In today's fast-paced life, patience is a scarce commodity. Being patient and responding patiently to situations is a skill which most of us struggle with. Nevertheless, it is an important life skill and must be taught to children from a very young age.
However, parents should not expect their child to learn patience at the same age as other children around him. While some children develop patience early, some need to be trained for a longer time. The thumb rule is that we should not expect children to start behaving like mature adults overnight.
Here are 8 activities to teach patience to your child:
1. Catch the drizzle
The next time there’s a drizzle or light shower, ask your child to place a deep jug or bowl on the window-sill and wait for it to fill up with rain water. The process of waiting for the entire vessel to fill will be an interesting way to teach your little one patience.
2. Await your turn
Teach your child that she cannot interrupt you when you are conversing with someone. This holds good even more while you are on the phone. Here’s an interesting way of teaching this - when you are on the phone and your child needs to talk to you, then ask him to tap on your hand and you can tap his hand back. This means I hear you and I will get back to you once the call is over. This can be made a fun activity by practising fake calls. It also makes for good pretend play.
3. Finger on the lips
Silence is an importance part of patience. Therefore, it is a good idea to play what is called ‘the silent game’. You can set a timer and tell your children to sit silently. Monitor them if they get fidgety and urge them to sit still. This can prove to be a true test of patience for your little ones!
4. Pass the parcel
Wrap a gift in multiple layers (as many as possible) and pass it on to your children. Ask them to take turns and unwrap the gifts slowly. This will teach your children to patiently wait until the last layer is unwrapped to finally take a look at the gift.
5. Use creative waiting strategies
You can teach your children various strategies whenever they are forced to wait patiently. You could tell your children to get their creative juices flowing by coming up with an interesting story or poem. They could also be told to sing a song while they wait. These strategies will ease the tension of waiting and teach your children patience.
6. Practise taking turns
You can set a timer or a sand clock and play games with your children. For example, if there is a toy that needs to be shared, then you could use the sand clock to teach one child to wait while the other plays with the toy. This can be a great lesson on patience.
7. Engage your child in shopping
It is never too early to teach your child how to shop at a grocery store. Engage him by asking him to make his own list. The idea is to keep him occupied and keep his mind off the whole process of waiting while you shop. Making a list of his own will not only keep your 3-year-old busy but also help him learn the names of the vegetables and other items available in the store. The most trying times for children are at the billing counter. The best way to handle this is to hand over the money to your child (under supervision, of course) and ask him to make the payment. Engaging your child in such activities is the key.
8. Take up gardening
Most of the activities our children engage in give results in a very short time. As a result, they start expecting everything to happen quickly. To avoid this and develop patience, engage your child in gardening, where his efforts will bear fruit slowly. Let him sow some seeds, water it every day, and see the sapling grow into a big plant.
The best way to teach patience to children is to provide them with an environment that is not just stimulating but also predictable. Letting them know consistently what is expected of them in various situations and going through the rules repeatedly will help them exercise self-control and patience.
The author is a professional German translator, interpreter, foreign language instructor for schools and visiting faculty for colleges and corporates.