Now-a-days, we live in an “Instant” world- Instant messaging, instant replay, instant booking, instant tea, and instant messaging. So much so that even our hunger pangs find solace in instant Ramen/Maggi noodles and ‘fast’ foods! Long gone are the days where one patiently waited in queues at the movies, banks, shows, railway stations- well……ok we may still see that one especially if you live in Mumbai and travel by local trains. It’s amazing how the internet has simplified our lives. Move over 2G and 3G, all thanks to 4G and the smart phones everything happens at the tap of our fingers in a flash of a second even from one continent to another. Incredible!
And while our life runs smoothly by the bits and bytes of internet power, our patience hangs lose to bits and pieces.
A few days ago, I took Haripriya to the play area. As usual, both swings were taken. She whispered to me that she would like to swing and that I should go ask one of the boys to get off. I obliged. Instantly I went up to him and asked him to give Hari a chance to swing. And I felt like a winner, Hari was happy and so was I. In about 5 minutes, another kid came by and asked Hari for the swing. As I watched the tables turn, the scene turned into an eye opener for me. I realized that perhaps the other kid who gave Hari her turn also might have just gotten his turn. How impatient was I to let my child have her way instantly! She came back “bawling.” I will be honest, I tried to pacify her, but the damage was done. I had fed her impatience and now it was testing my patience.
We often come across numerous situations like these in our lives where we are forced to play “the waiting game.” Our attitude, both, in behaviour/action and words, during those situations determines our levels of patience and those that our children will inherit.
Patience is a very important virtue in character building and the best way to teach patience is, well, to practice it! Easier said than done right? Some people have an inbuilt app called patience. They can breeze through the most stressful situations whereas some may struggle to get by. Children are no different. However, it is important to cultivate this important character trait in them. Some of the benefits of practicing patience are:
- Children are able to avoid impulsive behaviour
- They give themselves a chance to think over problems and hence
- They are better able to solve problems
- It leads to inner calmness and emotional strength
- Keeps temper tantrums at check
- They begin to have realistic expectations from life
- Begin to respect time
- It helps them become emotionally mature
So how can we can practice patience and perhaps transform ourselves and our children from “IMPATIENT” to “I M PATIENT.”
Patience is the ability to apply self-control and have a good attitude despite a compelling situation. Imagine you are travelling as family for a vacation and along the way you hit a lot of traffic, now instead of constantly cutting lanes, honking, huffing and puffing (hopefully not cursing) trying to get ahead by a couple feet, what if you turned your “patience” app on. Not only will you relieve yourself from the constant mental battle of getting “there” faster, but also give yourself a chance to have some meaningful conversation with family. Voila, and also you would demonstrate to them, how important it is to “not lose your cool!”
So how can we apply this virtue of patience, without being complacent? Here are some tips that will help both parents and children cultivate patience.
- Lower your expectations: Often times we have unrealistic expectations from our children. Most of the times this stems from comparing them to other kids. For e.g. STOP immediately, when you find yourself thinking how quickly a friend’s child eats her lunch when asking your child to finish hers quickly. Embrace the differences, reminding yourself of the things your child does well and the things you are too slow at.
- Check your language: Do you often unnecessarily use terms such as “hurry up,” “quick”, “right now” way too often? A confession, I DO! Hari once told me “mommy, for everything thing you keep saying fast, fast, fast, I am small, I cannot do things as fast as you.” So now, instead of just saying hurry up, I explain the reason for my rush, like, let us get to the park before it gets dark or instead of say get ready in 5 minutes, I do a countdown since kids don’t have a sense of time really.
- Listen: Give them a listening ear. Pay attention to what they have to say or show without distraction. By modelling such behaviour they also learn to listen to you patiently.
- Identify triggers: Identify triggers that make you impatient towards your kids and try and work on them. For me it is making her do homework. It would get me really irritated because she would take FOREVER to finish one page. But the underlying cause of my impatience was a laundry list of things that I had to do in the course of the day. So now, when I have to make her do homework, I forget about the things I have to do and concentrate on her solely and whole-heartedly.
Our practice for patience as parents will act as a springboard on which the attitude of our children will take off.
- Slow down response time: No more “at the drop of a hat.” When they need or demand something, evaluate the need and then respond. For e.g. when you go to the mall and they want a toy or something, ask how important is it for them to have it? Can it wait till an occasion, like Diwali, Christmas, birthday? Making wish lists is also a great way of allowing their “I want it and I want it now” tantrum to subside.
- Making waiting fun: Children are intuitively impatient, so teaching them how to cope with waiting is important. When waiting in line at the mall, grocery store, bank etc play games or tell short stories. This works really well with little ones. Hari and I often play the game where we take turns to pick a colour wherever we are waiting and either one has to point to or say the name of the object matching that colour.
- Activities for Patience: Engage children in activities that require time like solving puzzles, art, planting/gardening, learning an instrument. Chess is a great game for cultivating patience.
- Taking Turns: This is a big problem for little kids. Taking them to fairs, public parks, events for kids will reinforce this behaviour and help them cope with the wait.
- Patience in small doses: Test their patience in small doses periodically to see where they stand. I do this by sometimes purposefully pretending to not hear what Hari may have said, to see how she gets my attention again, whether she gets angry or walks up to me again and speaks with respect. I follow it up by saying “sorry I did not hear you the first time.”
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This article was originally published at mycity4kids