Teaching patience

Some handy tips to help you teach your child how to be patient.

Although children are not born with patience, they will need to learn to wait as they grow older. Instant gratification was fine when they were infants, but the inability to wait or exercise patience in older children can affect the relationships and various outcomes in their life, at a later stage.

Children are not born patient

Instant gratification is appropriate for infants, but the trouble occurs when we, as parents, treat our older children with the same urgency as when they were infants. As children grow, they will need to learn to wait.

Allow children to wait if you’re busy, or in the middle of a conversation

Persevere with this, and be consistent because they won’t learn how to do it if they never have to. Teaching children to wait builds impulse control and is an important ingredient for motivation, achievement, friendship, communication and conflict resolution.

Give children time to problem-solve and make decisions

Allow them to “mull over something”. If your son is not sure about whether he would like to do an extramural activity, give him the space to think about it. Parents too can use this tool – especially when you are being pressurised to make a decision.

Take the time to think through a decision but realise that if you hesitate and always say “yes”, then your kids will learn that hesitating is a “yes” response and will push you to “think about it”.

Set hierarchical boundaries

This will ensure there are privileges that children will look forward to.

For example, a 7-year-old child can sleep over at a friend’s, a 12-year-old can wear eye-make-up, and so on. The point is to give children the chance to wait and to look forward to growing up.

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