Lipa Learning logo

How to encourage kids’ patience

Written by Itziar Madera, Educational Specialist at Lipa

05 October, 2017

Patience is the ability to stay calm in chaotic and confusing situations, to accept and support others despite their flaws, and to raise obedient children without yelling or hitting. Someone who lives patiently has a better understanding of the nature of problems, creating peace and harmony around them. That is, they have the sensitivity to face all those setbacks with calmness and keep an inner balance.

Small children have difficulty understanding the concept of patience. When they want something, they claim it immediately, and often feel frustrated at not being able to satisfy their immediate desires. For them five minutes, an hour, or even more, are abstract concepts that cannot be understood, which is why they insist again and again until they get what they want.

The maturity of the child is important when it comes to ensuring they have patience. A child in early education with a high level of selfishness and the need to for larger amounts of attention will demand a greater amount of time. In any case, it’s important to lovingly teach the value of patience to children in their early years.

Tips for Encouraging Kids’ Patience

Leading by example is of vital importance in teaching children to be patient; this means that if parents come to a place and want to be served immediately or else become desperate, they can’t ask their children to be patient.

Don’t give in to their demands quickly. Often children will throw tantrums to get different food or things, and if parents give them what they want immediately, they will grow to be impatient people. It’s better to stay calm and talk reasonably and not to lose our own patience.

Children are very perceptive to body language, so we should teach them to maintain composure in situations that are frustrating for adults too, such as queuing/lining up at the supermarket.

Manage your time to ensure you don’t create too many expectations–such as the children finding and putting on their shoes within five minutes. Announce activities or events one or two days in advance also helps children get into the mindset of doing something and not feel surprised.

Keep your promises. If we promise to be with the child in five minutes, or to perform an activity with them, we must keep our word. If it’s not possible, explain the reasons for not being able to give them your time.

If you want the child to wait, it’s more beneficial to use concrete and not abstract examples. That is, avoid saying “in five minutes” and instead use “when you pick up the toys” or “when we finish dinner” so they can understand roughly how long the wait will be.

Teach children not to interrupt others’ conversations–everyone deserves their time to speak and be listened to. To enforce this, we should always let our children talk and not interrupt them during conversations.

If we know that we have to wait in places like the doctor’s office or in traffic, bring games, stories and activities for the child to do.

Board games with several participants, or team sports, will help children understand how to wait for their turn.

Enjoy activities or games that encourage patience, such as puzzles, riddles, cooking, etc.

It’s appropriate to award patient behavior; this doesn’t necessarily mean giving children presents or candy every time they are patient, but simply express your appreciation of it and always explain why patience is so important.

It’s necessary to repeat these teachings constantly, because children don’t learn to be patient overnight.