Do Your Children Need More Patience?

Do Your Children Need More Patience?

My son opened the shower door, stuck his head in and asked, “Dad, will you come watch me build my lego car?!”

“Yes," I replied, "I just need to do three things first. I need to dry off, get dressed, and do my hair, then I’ll come watch.”

Soon afterward, I’d already dried off and got dressed, and was in the middle of doing my hair, when my son returned with some frustration in his tone and said, “Dad, you told me you would come watch me build my lego car!”

All of us parents have probably been at this place. Our kids are waiting for us for about one minute before they come back. When they do this, they often feel frustrated, because they are “still waiting.” I’ve observed a lot of reactions from parents in these situations. Some return the frustration and some are gentle. No matter the tone they take, most parents ask a question.

"Didn't you hear what I have to do first?!” (Frustrated) 

“Did you hear what I need to do first?" (Gentle)

“Didn’t I tell you I’d be there soon?!” (Frustrated) 

“Remember I said I’d be there as soon as I can?” (Gentle) 

Some parents don’t ask a question, but tell their kids, “Patience is a virtue.” Unfortunately, most kids have no idea what that even means. 

Our children all have to learn to wait. Everyone (including us) has to wait for things at some time or another. Patience is not that we have to wait, it’s how we wait. 

 Everyone waits, but few wait patiently

Our responses in these times will either impart patience or destroy it.

I chose to respond gently to my son with a question, “Do you remember the three things I need to do before I come watch you?” He answered me with the exact three things I’d told him. Then I said, “As soon as I finish my hair, I’ll be there buddy.” 

As the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized I could add something that could help him. I said, “If I come now, I’ll be trying to finish my hair while I watch you, but then you wouldn't have my full attention. I would rather give you my full attention, not just some of it. How about you? Would you rather have all of it, or just some?” 

Of course he wanted all of it, so he gladly went back to his room to wait. But he didn’t just wait; he waited patiently. 

My response imparted patience to my son by helping him see that waiting was actually going to be better than if he had me now. 

If your kids need more patience, are you giving them the information they need to help impart patience to them? 

Are you gently asking questions, or are you asking in frustration? 

What are things you do to help your children learn patience?