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How to teach your child to be patient

If you want your child to grow up to be a decent human being, you have to purposefully reach them positive traits like kindness, respect, self-control, and patience. None of these traits come naturally.

This article will focus on patience as one of those all-important life skills that your child absolutely needs to learn. So how can you raise a patient child? Here's how: 

How do you teach your child patience?

Here are some of the ways you can teach patience to your child:

1. Start small

You need to be patient to teach patience. It's going to be a slow process, so you better prepare yourself mentally for it. It'll take small doses, little by little, every day, until you get a patient child. This is why you need to start right at toddlerhood.

2. Teach them self-control

Before they can be patient, they need to know that they have control over their emotions and actions. Make your kiddo understand that they can do this regardless of whether they feel anxious, eager or even tired.

Picture this: your child has a request that they demand should be fulfilled. Say, they want a new outfit, for example. You need to sit them down and make sure they have full control of their emotions before you even think about doing what they want. Do this every time they start acting out to reinforce the idea that acting out is not the way to get what you want.

3. Delay Purposefully

Remember all those cute outfits they wanted? Well, take a step back first before pulling out your credit card. You want to teach your child about delayed gratification in a world filled with instant gratification. As a parent, you need to consciously delay some of your kid’s requests for no other reason but to teach this important lesson.

Unless it is an emergency, there is no reason to have anything they want right at this minute. For example, if they want a pet, take that opportunity to teach patience. Have them wait until the holidays, their birthday, or some other special occasion. This will show them that it is sometimes worth waiting for things that matter just a little longer and everything will turn out alright in the end.

4. Teach them to wait in line

One way kids can learn patience is by taking turns. There is no better opportunity than this to teach your child to wait in line, especially for a fun activity. Your kids will slowly learn to be patient when you expose them to situations that force them to exercise some restraint.

For instance, you can regularly take your kids to the park swings to play with other kids. There, they will learn that everyone has to wait for their turn at the swing.

If your child is still struggling with waiting his turn at the swings, make more trips to the park. This will reinforce his need to be courteous and patient.

5. Use the stretching technique for toddlers

Here is an effective technique that works wonders for toddlers. It is called patience-stretching, or simply, the stretching technique. It will have your little one acting way more patient within just a few days! 

How to use this technique

The first step is to have something that your child wants, such as a treat or a toy. Once you have this, here's what to do: 

  • First, "almost" give them what they want. So if they want a favourite toy, immediately stop what you are doing and repeat their request to them. "Teddy! You want Teddy?" Then get what they want and start handing it to them. Then suddenly, hold up a finger and exclaim, “Oh! Wait! Just a second dear."
  • You want to pretend that you have just remembered something very important. Turn away and pretend to look for this phantom object, but not for more than thirty seconds. This is their first rodeo anyways. So stretch just a little, to begin with. 
  • When you find the “thing” you were looking for, turn back and hand them Teddy. As you do this, heap them with praise, “Wow! That’s good waiting! Good waiting!” This is the payoff stage where they get rewarded for being patient. They learn that waiting is not so bad after all. It also shows them that you always keep your word, which will be important as you continue using this technique.
  • Whenever a chance like this presents itself, stretch the waiting time more and more each time. Let’s say that you do this every day. Within a week, your toddler will be able to wait a minute or two, possibly more.

As they grow older, you can start using a timer. It's a great way to progressively measure the duration your child waits. Doing things this way will also help you to consciously increase your child’s waiting time. Make waiting into a fun game!

When you use your timer, be sure to set it to increasingly longer durations over time. Remember to come back fast when it dings. Praise your child and give them what you had promised.

Also, keep things fluid. Once in a while, set the timer for 20 seconds or less. It will trick them into thinking that they were patient for much longer than they actually were, especially once they have started waiting 2 minutes or more. You can also give a double reward to surprise them. They'll start associating getting way more than they expected with being patient. 

Patient stretching is a powerful technique because it affirms positivity. Compare that with taunting or teasing your child and you'll see the difference. 

Final Thoughts

Patience is a skill. It needs to be taught. If you want to have a patient child, you will need to put some deliberate effort into instilling it in them. When you teach your child how to wait, you set them up for a happier, more successful life, and they'll thank you for it. 

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