Do long lines, slow traffic or slow people irritate you? Waiting calmly without complaining is often not easy—for kids or adults—and neither is learning about delayed gratification or lovingly accepting others and their imperfections. Life is full of difficult situations and people that we should learn to patiently accept. Patience is a simple concept to understand, but not always easy to teach or to apply to our lives. Be strong, the next time your child is demanding something right away—don’t feed the monster. The temporary unpleasantness of learning this life skill will eventually pay off for you and your child, resulting in a positive adult with some self-control. It is true that good things do come to those who wait—especially good character.
- Family tradition. Bake something together, go fishing, plant a garden—all of these activities teach patience because they require waiting.
- Object lesson. Caterpillars are rewarded for their patience and hard work by becoming a beautiful butterfly. Look for butterflies at the zoo, in the wild, or purchase a butterfly garden and observe the process of their metamorphosis together. Decorate with butterfly stickers or stamps. My favorite simple butterfly craft is to use finger-paints or glitter-glue (anything slow drying) to decorate one half of a simple drawing of a butterfly. Then fold the picture in half and smoosh one side onto the other making them identical. You can’t go wrong with anything that involves smooshing.
- Games. Any long games (such as Monopoly) requiring working with others or taking turns teach patience. The “Quiet Game” is the best car game ever, because your kids compete to see who can be completely noiseless the longest. “Sardines” is a fun rendition of hide-and-go-seek that is more fun the more people you have. The person who is “it” hides patiently and everyone else tries to find them. As each person finds “it” they quietly hide with them, until the last person finds where everyone is packed in.
Encourage patience in your home by committing to the following statements. Say these “I will” statements aloud with your children, and encourage them to apply them to situations in their everyday life. I will:
- wait calmly without complaint
- lovingly accept others
- try until I succeed
- control my temper
- keep things in perspective.
Sarah Holmes lives in Norman and is the founder of Wildflowers Character Resources. Find more at www.thecharactermom.blogspot.com.