How to Teach Your Kids to be Patient

Tips for teaching your children to be patient with one another.

Cherylyn Feierabend
4-minute read
Episode #154

Raise your hand if you think you are patient. Anyone? I’d like to think I’m patient, but the reality is that I’m only patient in certain situations. Even as adults we have difficulty with patience. Imagine how much more difficult it must be for children, who are just learning to control their emotions, to be patient. This week’s tips are brought to you courtesy of Chris and Melissa Bugaj also know as Mr. Chris and Miss Mel. They are the creators of Night Light Stories. Night Light Stories is a podcast featuring original children's stories. You can visit their blog and listen to some of their stories at http://www.nightlightstories.net. Melissa was kind enough to share some tips about how she and Chris teach their children to be patient.

How to Teach Kids to Be Patient

Find opportunities where adults can demonstrate patience with one another while the kids are watching. Chris and Melissa act out scenarios and have the children interact with them. For example, Melissa will call to Chris and Chris will not respond. Melissa will ask the children, “Why is Daddy not answering me? What should I do?” She will give them to opportunity to questions such as, “Should I yell or scream at him?” When the children respond that these are not good ideas, she’ll ask, “Should I walk over to him and gently tap him on the shoulder and let him know I was calling him?” Based on the agreement of the children, Melissa will then actually go to Daddy as directed and he will apologize and say, “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you.” By involving the kids in these activities and having them see the behavior acted out, it reminds them of how they could handle similar situations in the future. You can also use toys, dolls, or figurines to demonstrate similar scenarios. Would Princess Ariel take Cinderella’s dinosaur toy away? It gives the children opportunities to point out how the princesses should respond. When the kids say, “Cinderella, don’t be angry! Take a deep breath!” it shows that the children are incorporating one of the strategies they’ve been taught.

Melissa also uses pictures of the children to demonstrate patience and good behavior. She has pictures of the children in the act of sharing and she’s hung them in the play room and on the refrigerator at the children’s eye level. When the children are looking at the pictures, she reinforces the example by pointing out the pictures and saying, “I really like when you play and speak so nicely to each other.”


Gentle Reminders can Help

Find opportunities where you can demonstrate patience while the kids are watching.

When children begin to fight or take one another’s possessions without asking, gently remind them with a key word. Melissa uses the word “patience” to remind her children what behavior is expected from them. When you catch your children in the act of working together and sharing, remind them generously with praise just how much you appreciate such wonderful behavior. If your children have meltdowns when they are upset with one another, remind them to use their words or walk away. Melissa and Chris let their children know that before they can ask for help with the situation, they need to use their words calmly without screaming or crying.

Let Them Work on it Together

Children need to be given time to figure things out for themselves sometimes. Melissa suggests letting kids fight it out for a few minutes when there is a disagreement. Oftentimes the strategies you’ve taught your children will kick in once they realize what they are doing. You can also give your children opportunities to practice being patient. [[AdMiddle]When you are preparing meals or gathering items for a craft, having your children wait for you together will give them a chance to practice being patient. Melissa has noted that her children often have great conversations with one another while they are waiting. They sing, laugh, and enjoy their time together.

Be Patient!

Finally, and probably the most obvious tip of all is to set the example. Remember that your children are watching you. If you repeatedly lose your patience, you are reinforcing the negative behavior. Being patient, even as an adult, can be very difficult at times. Practice deep breathing and remember to remain calm when approaching difficult situations. Sometimes I wish I were a child so I could just practice the fine art of walking away, but we grown-ups aren’t always given that option!

I would like to thank Melissa and Chris for sharing their tips with us.  Please be sure to check out their blog where they offer free downloadable stories and activities, along with the vocabulary and weekly Lighting the Way With Words at nightlightstories.net. One story in particular titled “Captain Destructo” is available for download directly from their page. It’s a great story about patience between siblings.

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Impatient Girl image courtesy of Shutterstock