Do your kids interrupt you when you’re speaking, demand a refill at the dinner table, and need constant attention? You’re not alone. It’s natural for kids to be impatient. As a parent, it’s how you address impatience that can mean the difference between raising a patient, well-adjusted child or an impatient child who grows up to be an impatient adult.
Patience is a Learned Behavior
If you want to raise a patient child, you have to be a patient adult. If you’re short-tempered in automobile traffic, or use your smart phone during family down time, your child will copy that behavior, needing constant entertainment and becoming annoyed when things don’t go his or her way.
In situations when you’re prone to becoming impatient, take a deep breath and consider how you would want your child to deal with the same situation. Would you want him or her to take that frustration out on others when traffic is congested or when there’s a long line at the store? Probably not.
To raise patient children, you have to practice patience yourself.
Limit Screen Time
Thanks to technology, we may all be a little less patient, knowing that entertainment and connectivity are just a finger-swipe away. However, in both children and adults, constant online screen time can create a sense of dissatisfaction and lead to impatience during our offline existence. Need another reason to pull the plug? The Mayo Clinic says that an abundance of screen time can lead to irregular sleep patterns, behavioral problems and impaired academic performance in kids.
Encourage Patience by Delaying Gratification
Emma Jenner, author of “Keep Calm and Parent On,” finds that a little discomfort is good for kids. In an article in the Huffington Post, she recommends that parents not worry about tending to their kids’ every need at every moment of the day. Instead, she says that there are some instances when “your kids can wait.”
Communicate, Don’t Yell
Yelling at children is an act of impatience. It communicates discomfort and frustration. Instead of yelling, communicate with your needs gently but firmly. Instead of saying, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?”, you might say, “I’m on the phone now, but I’ll be off in 20 minutes. I’ll talk to you then, OK?” Kids are like sponges, and so a reasonable approach teaches them to be reasonable, too.
Changing Our Behavior So That Kids Will Change Theirs
It all comes down to a big, family-wide behavioral shift, and making it takes time and fortitude. Don’t give up. Keep at it. Soon, you’ll see that your kids are happy and patient because you’re happy and patient.