Life Skills – How to Teach Kids Patience

In this post we will discuss how to teach kids patience. We currently live in a society of instant gratification.  If we have a question that needs answering we search the internet from our computers or smart phones.  We need to buy something; Amazon can send it to us the same day.  We need to get a hold of someone, we can call them on their cell phone day or night, from anywhere in the world.

Teaching kids patience is challenging in our instant gratification society
Teaching kids patience is challenging in our instant gratification society

Technology has certainly made our lives easier but at the cost of patience.  We now expect things to happen quickly and get agitated when they don’t.  As adults we try to instill patience in our kids but often lack it ourselves.

When things don’t go the way we want them to, it is easy to react with anger.  This is the gut reaction for most people and is the result of not thinking things all the way through.  In most situations, anger will only cause the situation to be worse.  Taking the time to understand the situation and react with compassion and understanding is the cornerstone of patience.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

When you teach kids patience, there is more to it than just waiting
When you teach kids patience, there is more to it than just waiting

Let’s apply the process to patience.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Perseverance means “Not being in a hurry. Taking the time to understand something before reacting.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Take 3 deep breaths: when something happens that tests our patience, we tend to react quickly without thinking.  We let our emotions control the situation.  One great strategy to use when you find yourself feeling impatient and upset is to take 3 slow, deep breaths.  This has all calming effect on the body and allows you to think more clearly about the situation.
    • Think about how it affects others: when we find ourselves in a situation that requires patience, we often think only about ourselves.  There is something we want, and we want it right now.  When this is the case, we usually don’t think about how our actions affect other people around us.  There could be a very understandable reason for the situation causing our impatience.
    • When you are impatient you don’t get what you want: when we want something really, really badly we always want it right this minute.  If we don’t get it right away, we get impatient and angry.  When this happens, the people that are responsible for us not getting something immediately will get angry and might cause us to not get it at all.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of patience in karate: earning a black belt is one thing in karate that requires patience.  There is not a fast track or speedy way to do it.  Earning a black belt will likely take 5 or more years of consistent, dedicated training.  There will be times when you will need to practice the same thing over and over again while other students get to move on to new things.  It will require patience to overcome these times in your training.  Trust that your instructor has a plan for your progress and is helping you reach your goals.
    • Example of patience at home: you just got a brand-new video game and want to play it all the time.  Your mom tells you that you can play it but only after you finish your homework.  You can’t wait and want to play right now.  You throw a fit, your mom gets angry and says now you can’t play the game at all.  If you had just showed some patience, you would have been able to play the game.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have patience?  When you are patient you will usually get what you want, you just need to wait.  When you are impatient, other people get upset and you could get into trouble.  Most likely, when you are impatient you will not get what you wanted at all.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Taking 3 slow, deep breaths will help in remaining patient
Taking 3 slow, deep breaths will help in remaining patient

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids responsibility.

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