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Nurturing patience in young minds: Practical tips for parents



While patience is said to be a virtue, it's also a skill that can be developed and honed over time. In today's fast-paced world, where instant gratification is often the norm for many of us, cultivating patience within ourselves can seem like an elusive task, and what about the young children in our care?


Teaching children patience sets a foundation for resilience, emotional regulation, and perseverance.


And the good news is that with dedication and practice, anyone can become more patient.


Here are some practical strategies to help you build more patience skills, boosting your own wellbeing as you nurture this invaluable trait in your young ones.


1. Lead by Example

The first key in helping young children to build patience is to practise it yourself. Children learn by observing the behavior of the adults around them so as an adult, our actions speak much louder than words. Model patience in your daily interactions, whether it's waiting calmly in line or in traffic, handling setbacks with grace, or practising active listening during conversations. Your children will mirror your behavior, so be mindful of how you demonstrate patience in your own life.


And if you haven't displayed patience, own it and speak to your child about it. 'I wasn't being very patient then. I am working on that. Next time.......' and then follow through.


2. Remember that children are children

Children, especially younger ones, have limited attention spans and impulse control which is all part of their development.


It's important to set expectations for patience building based on your child's age and developmental stage. Break tasks into smaller, achievable steps, and offer praise and encouragement along the way.


By setting small and achievable goals, you can help your child experience the satisfaction of accomplishment and build patience through incremental progress. If they are small, start small.


3. Practise Mindfulness Together

Introduce mindfulness practices into your family routine to cultivate patience and emotional awareness. Take a few minutes each day to engage in simple mindfulness exercises like deep breathing or mindful eating.


Remember you are practising mindfulness whenever you are paying attention to the present moment without judging it. Encourage your child to pay attention to their thoughts and emotions without judgement. This will help them develop self-regulation skills and become more patient in challenging situations.


4. Acknowledge and praise often

Acknowledge and praise your child's efforts to wait patiently or exhibit self-control, even if it was only for a short time. Offer specific praise such as, "I noticed how calmly you waited for your turn," or "You did a great job staying patient while we finished at the shops." Celebrating small victories reinforces positive behavior and encourages your child to continue practising patience and making progress with this important skill.


5. Work to promote a calm environment

A calm and structured environment supports the development of patience in children. Establish predictable routines and clear expectations to reduce stress and anxiety. Minimize distractions and create designated spaces for focused activities, like a calm corner.


Teach your child relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation to help them manage frustration and stay patient in challenging situations. (There are some great ideas in the [free to join] PLS Family Link.)


6. Foster Empathy and Understanding

Help your child develop empathy by encouraging them to consider the feelings and perspectives of others. Talk about emotions and how they are all valid and how different people may react differently in various situations.


Teach empathy through storytelling, role-playing, and discussing real-life scenarios. When children understand the impact of their actions on others, they're more likely to exercise patience and kindness.


7. Practise Patience-Building Activities

Engage your child in activities that promote patience and delayed gratification. Puzzles, board games, and arts and crafts projects require concentration and perseverance. Saving up for a special reward also builds the delayed gratification muscle.


Encourage your child to set goals, plan strategies, and work through challenges independently. These activities not only strengthen patience but also foster problem-solving skills and creativity.



 

Patience is a valuable skill that lays the groundwork for success and happiness in life.


As parents and caregivers, we play a crucial role in nurturing this essential trait in our children. By modeling patience, setting expectations that fit, practising mindfulness, creating a calm environment, fostering empathy, and engaging in patience-building activities, with lots of encouragement and with repetition and practice you can help your child develop the patience they need to navigate life's challenges with resilience and grace.


Remember, patience is not built overnight—it's a journey of growth and learning that unfolds over time, for all of us.


Until next time,






The PLS team

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