5 Ways to Teach Kids Patience

Kids Don’t Naturally Know How to Delay Gratification

When I first started working as a nanny I found a lot of great ideas to use with my nanny kids from author Sheila Ellison.  I will share her clever ideas on how to teach children to be patient today.

The only way to teach children difficult coping, life skills is to practice using those skills as play or activities to do together. But, teaching kids who crave immediate gratification to be patient can be particularly tricky.

In her book 365 Ways to Raise Great Kids Ellison explains that a child that is patient can entertain herself while waiting and listen until she learns and understands.

She writes, “A child who learns patience has found a tool that will help greatly in overcoming the frustrations of life.”

Here are 5 ways Ellison recommends to teach kids to be patient:

1. Use Calendars and Praise

It’s hard to wait patiently. Routine and schedules are important in reducing frustration in children, so be sure to use a daily and weekly calendar with kids so they know what to expect and when it will happen. Whenever they wait patiently for a snack, a lesson, or activity praise them for being patient.

2. Working Through a Task

Don’t jump in to save a child every time they get frustrated doing a task. Giving the child room to struggle teaches them how to be patient with themselves as they slowly figure out the problem. You can encourage them with positive praises like, “You can do it!”

3. Centerpiece

Remember “show and tell” at preschool? It teaches kids patience and listening skills. Have each member of the family bring something special to the dinner table and create a centerpiece with all of the objects. Then allow each person share the importance of the object they brought. This requires children to listen patiently as they wait for their turn.

4. Be a Role Model and Count to 10

It’s hard for a child that yells, hits, or bites to be patient when they are angry. Encourage children to count to 10 instead of acting out impulsively when they are angry. Model proper behavior by saying, “I’m feeling so angry. I’m going to count to 10 and think of what I need to say.” Do this exercise often and the child will learn to do the same instead of acting impulsively out of anger.

5. Patient Projects

Each time a child patiently waits for something that does come to pass helps them learn patience. Intentionally set up things to do weekly that require patience: waiting patiently for a snack, planting seeds and wait for them to grow, build something that takes days to complete, or make bread and wait for it to rise.


365 Ways to Raise Great Kids

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