How to Teach Your Child to Be Patient

Paige Geis Bradshaw
How to Teach Your Child to Be Patient

Parenting is a path that requires endless patience. Sometimes, being a patient parent is a breeze. Other times, you reach the end of your rope and respond to stress in ways you normally wouldn’t. (And that’s okay—it happens to the best of us!)

When patience is something you’re still mastering yourself, you may not feel equipped to teach it to your child. But remember: Nobody’s perfect. You are more capable than you think!

If you’re hoping to help your child improve their patience, keep reading for guidance on how to teach your child to be patient.

Why Is Being Patient So Hard?

We know this much: Patience is a challenge for many of us, regardless of our age. But why is being patient so hard for us?

For starters, we live in a world that offers instant gratification around every corner. If we want to be entertained, all we need to do is pull out our phones. If we want a burger, we just head on over to a fast food drive-thru. If we need an ego boost, we can post a picture on Instagram and watch the “likes” roll in.

In a study conducted by University of Massachusetts Amherst professors, it was found that Internet users will abandon an online video if it doesn’t play within two seconds. The real shocker? That was ten years ago. Today, most Internet users won’t watch long-form videos at all. Thanks to short-form video platforms like TikTok, videos longer than a few minutes are far and few between!

In short, as time passes and technology advances, it becomes increasingly more difficult to develop—and maintain—skills in patience.

But why is being patient so hard for children especially? Children are still learning how to regulate and manage their emotions. When emotions run high, instant gratification can soothe negative feelings.

How to Teach Patience

Teaching patience to children can seem like an impossible task. But with a little extra effort and some perseverance, it can be done in no time! (Pun intended.)

Here are five tips, tricks, and activities to teach patience:

Take Small Steps

Good habits are a lot easier to build at a gradual pace. Asking your child to wait ten minutes before they can go outside and play might be a big ask at first. To a child, ten minutes can feel like an eternity!

Instead, start small. Ask them to wait one minute while you prepare a snack for them or pour them a drink. Over time, increase their waiting time by thirty seconds. Soon enough, your child will be able to wait for minutes at a time while you fold laundry, make a phone call, or finish a creative project!

Make It Fun

Patience is a lot more fun to learn when it becomes a game! Your child will stay engaged and entertained with these games and activities to learn patience:

  • Jigsaw puzzles: Between sorting pieces, trial and error, and putting the pieces in the right place, jigsaw puzzles require a lot of patience to complete!
  • Board and card games: From Candyland to Uno, any board or card game that requires taking turns can help your child learn how to be patient.
  • Freezing games: Games like Red Light, Green Light and Statue Tag can instill the importance of waiting and listening.  
  • Permission games: Simon Says and Mother, May I? not only reinforce lessons in patience, but they teach your child how to listen to directions and respectfully ask questions.

Try Timers & Visual Tools

In addition to telling your child the amount of time they must wait, try setting a timer. This provides your child with a visual representation of how much time is left. They can also watch the timer as it ticks down to zero!

For other occasions and events that are a little longer than what a timer can count down, make an interactive visual tool like a paper chain. Each link represents one day. Every morning, your child can remove a link from the chain. This is an excellent option for holidays and vacations!

Keep Your Cool

Staying cool, calm, and collected is a challenge when your child won’t stop asking the same question over and over again. However, snapping or getting upset can sour your child’s experience with learning how to be patient.

Young children can’t quite grasp the concept of time, either. To them, there is little to no difference between a few minutes and a few hours. Help them develop that understanding by making specific references to time that relate to them. For example, instead of “we’re almost there,” try “grandma’s house is an episode of Bluey away.”

Lead the Way

Children are like sponges. They pick up on their surroundings pretty quickly! If they watch you lose your composure, they might start to mimic that same behavior during times of stress.

Instead of exhibiting road rage in tight traffic, turn on calming music or play some popular road trip games with your child. When you’re in another situation that calls for patience, like standing in a long line at the store, share that with your child. Tell them that it can be difficult to wait, but there are things you can do to pass the time, like look at checkout stand magazines or think about what the rest of the day will bring!

Benefits of Patience

We’ve all heard the phrases “patience is a virtue” and “good things come to those who wait.” Researchers have joined forces with religious leaders, philosophers, and artists to support these messages—because science says so!

Here are some of the proven benefits of patience:

  • Improved mental health. You lose your temper less often, you cope with stress, and you deal with day-to-day frustrations like traffic jams and technical difficulties.
  • Rational decision-making abilities. You can take your time to weigh your options and consider long-term impacts. You’re also less likely to make impulsive choices.
  • Strong listening skills. You don’t rush to finish others’ sentences or fill quiet space with your own voice. Instead, you listen intently and carefully consider your responses.
  • Close relationships. When you’re patient, you tend to be more cooperative, empathetic, and forgiving as well. These qualities help you build healthy and meaningful relationships!
  • Diligence when learning something new. Patience provides the pick-me-up you need as you try your hand at a new hobby. Instead of giving up when it becomes hard, patience will motivate you to see it through! This same diligence can help you reach personal and professional goals, too.

Patience isn’t the only lesson your child will need to learn. It’s important for them to know how to use technology in an appropriate and responsible way as well! Teach them how to use technology as a tool with Troomi. These kid-safe smartphones offer all the benefits of any other smartphone—without any of the dangers. Click here to learn more!