How to teach patience to a child? 6 useful tips

Children are impulsive and impatient by nature. But, with your help, your children will be able to develop patience more easily. Find out how to do it.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz on October 09, 2021.

Last update: October 09, 2021

Patience is one of the learning that costs the most to all, children and adults, especially in the era of immediacy. Nevertheless, The little ones need you to help them develop this virtue by example and with effective strategies. Therefore, below we show you how to teach a child patience.

The ability to wait It is acquired progressively as cognitive maturity occurs. It is important to bear this in mind so as not to overdo it and demand something from your children that is beyond their means.

Children are naturally impulsive and have self-control difficulties; Furthermore, in their early years they have not yet adequately developed the conception of time.

Thus, it is convenient to be comprehensive and adapt the teachings to children’s abilities. Nevertheless, learning patience can begin as early as two or three years and it is important that you encourage it from home.

Why is it important to teach a child patience?

Teach your child to be patient from the age of two.

Patience is necessary in many situations in a child’s daily life. For instance:

  • To save your turn to speak in a conversation
  • By claiming the attention of their parents if they are busy with another matter
  • If they have to wait to use the bathroom
  • When other children are using the toys he wants
  • To endure the wait in monotonous situations or boring like the pediatrician’s office
  • When they are hungry, the food still lacks time
  • When it comes to doing their homework with precision and calm instead of rushing and making mistakes

All these situations can be a real challenge for your child, but they need to learn to manage them. Failure to do so will not only suffer more from impatience, but it can lead to conflicts and fights with peers or with parents and teachers. In the end, patience is essential to live in society.

6 tips to teach a child patience

Patience cannot be worked with a child before the age of two. While they are babies, their demands and cries must always be attended to for the parents, otherwise they may feel great fear and anguish. However, from that age on, there are several guidelines that can help encourage patience in children.

1. Lead by example

Have you stopped to analyze how is your own reaction to waiting? Many adults despair when they encounter a red light, a long line at the grocery store, or when children take longer than necessary to put on their coats.

These attitudes are perceived by your children and have an influence on them. You cannot ask them to be patient, if you yourself take them running from one place to another or you get frustrated and restless when you have to wait. Start by working on yourself to be the example you want them to receive.



2. Establish schedules and routines

It is okay for children to exercise their patience, but adults need to be aware of their limitations as well. At an early age, certain aspects of basic needs (such as hunger, sleep, or the need to go to the bathroom) cannot be delayed.

A) Yes, It is important to establish schedules in this regard and try to comply with them every day. As the minors grow and develop patience, it will be possible to make them more flexible.

3. Use games and stories

Learning values ​​and developing skills can be a lot of fun. Thus, if you want to teach a child patience in a pleasant and natural way, you can invite him to play board games in which you have to respect your turn.

Also, you can read together some stories that deal with this aspect. By identifying with the protagonists, the little one will acquire tools to manage impatience.

4. Discuss and explain

Explaining to children why they should wait is critical to fostering empathy.

Throughout the day, children are often asked to wait, but not always one takes the time to explain why. If your child demands your attention, explain that you are finishing cooking, that you have to put a washing machine first or that you must end the call and when you finish, you can go play with him.

In this way, You help them understand why they are waiting and foster empathy instead of making you feel rejected or neglected. You can even encourage him to help you with the tasks to liven up the wait and finish earlier.

5. Teach strategies to regulate impatience

To help your child wait, be patient, or delay gratification, you can teach him some strategies. For example, in a well-known experiment conducted in the 1960s by psychologist Walter Mischel it was found that children who were successful in delaying gratification used the following strategies:

  • Get away from the stimulus. This could be used by a child who wants a toy that another infant is using by walking away from that scene instead of staring in wait.
  • Distract attention. For example, while waiting in the pediatrician’s office, you can take the opportunity to chat, play watch, or draw in a notebook.
  • Remember the good that is sought (think before act). Mom said I can have a cookie now or wait for snack and have several. So, I hope to win that second option that is more attractive. Using self-instructions has been found to help children stick with their choice.


6. Natural learning

Finally, it is very positive use everyday situations from day to day to help children understand the different rhythms and to train patience.

Involving them in the kitchen and food preparation allows them to see how necessary the times are for the food to be ready. Taking care of a garden or an orchard helps them to visualize that nature itself also has its times and there is no use trying to speed them up.

Teaching a child patience is setting him up for success

Although it may seem like a trivial matter, by teaching a child patience you are preparing him for life and for success in the future and that is what, after all, every parent wants.

In subsequent reviews of the aforementioned experiment it was found that children who best deferred gratification later became more successful and confident adolescents, with greater self-control, more intelligence and more ability to concentrate.

Therefore, start working on this virtue with your children from their early years. Remember that your own patience, calm and flexibility will be the best way to convey this teaching.

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