Ms. Lara in our Meadowlarks class teaching a group lesson to her 2 year olds with Color Box #2
See the picture with the babies in the wagon to the right? In my head, I call it the Patience Mobile. The wagon holds four babies, and since at least one starts crying more often than not while all four are getting strapped in, I take a deep inner breath when they get the wagon out. 😉 You see, our two infant rooms are near the Office, and the proverbial “nails down a chalkboard” for me is crying babies. Our 16 babies get to go for a wagon ride at least once a day, so I’ve been practicing the skill of patience several times a day. 😉
Children at Sunrise Montessori all learn the skill of patience over time. In part, because it’s in our curriculum and also, it’s unavoidable. In a classroom of 24 Primary students, for example, there is only one material called the Red Rods, so if someone else wants to use it, they have to wait. As Joyce Meyer once said, “Patience is not simply the ability to wait. It’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” How do we teach our students patience and what can you do at home to help your child (and yourself) deal with those inevitable moments of impatience?
Why is teaching your child patience worth the time? (So many AMAZING reasons!)
- Helps focus on long term goals (helps you set and achieve your long terms goals)
- Make more rational choices (it’s harder to make good decisions when you are overcome with emotion)
- Builds our reputation for persistence (no one likes a quitter)
- Makes people like you more (if you are a patient person, others will want to deal with you more someone who blows their top when they get mad)
- Better Mental Health (worrying too much is not good for your mental health)
- It’s a way to practice kindness (it’s less frustrating to give in to the easier solution, but that doesn’t mean it’s better for others)
What are some easy, fun ways you can do with your child to help them learn patience?
It’s easier to be patient as an adult if you learn how to be patient as a child. Young children who learn patience grow up to have more self-control and more long-term critical thinking skills. In fact, many child development experts argue that teaching a child patience is an important step in child development. It’s no secret that kids have trouble waiting for things. This struggle can lead to a lot of frustration for parents and kids alike. Teaching kids patience is possible, though, and can even be done through fun activities. For parents wanting to teach their child patience at home, it’s important to understand that kids are not small versions of adults. They lack maturity and the ability to fully grasp certain concepts.
Here are some Montessori ways you can practice to help your child learn the skill of delayed gratification:
- Move slowly when your child asks for something (let your 12 month old see you getting them a sippy cup, but make every action take a little longer)
- When your child makes a request, tell them that you will do it after you do something else first
- If your child is whining about something they want, acknowledge it out loud. You can say, “Waiting is hard sometimes, you are doing so good waiting right now.”
- Play games with your child as a family and have the adults or older children take their time to make their move. Or play the Egg Spoon game with your children and their friends where they have to do the egg walk across the lawn.
- Model the practice of patience yourself when your child starts to show impatience. Say out loud, “This line is taking a while. I wish it would move faster, but long lines happen sometimes.”
- Use a timer to help your child visualize the wait. If your child is waiting for dinner or someone to come over to your house and they are about to burst, you can set a timer to help “see” how much longer it will be.
- Make bread! The amount of time it takes to make it from scratch and wait for it to rise is a great activity for your child to help with. Most baking activities are great for practicing patience.
- Have your child keep track of a plant’s growth! Push a ruler down in the dirt or take pictures each week so they can compare. For older children, you can go up a notch by placing two identical plants outside in pots and add fertilizer to just one.
- Wrap a Christmas gift several times so that it takes them longer to open it. I do this every season for John and he now laughs and loves it!
- Practice the art of silence in the car. Turn the music off and tell your child you’re going to both be completely quiet as you drive home.
How do we teach patience at Sunrise Montessori?
In many ways! The simplest one we practice daily is the hand on the shoulder. It helps teach patience and it’s also a lesson in grace and courtesy. In Montessori classrooms, children are taught how to place their hand on the teacher’s shoulder to let them know they would like their attention instead of verbally interrupting them, then they wait until the teacher acknowledges them. You can do this at home, too! We also help the children develop their skill of patience by asking them to wait their turn, assist others, resolve conflict peacefully, take some breathing time alone when upset, taking the time to say things like please and thank you, and so much more. Stand outside of one of our classroom’s observation windows and you’ll see patience being practiced.
If all of that hasn’t convinced you, how about this? Have you heard of the Marshmallow Experiment? Children who were willing to delay their gratification and wait to receive a second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, and better social skills. Wow! Delayed gratification is one of the top indicators of successful people and patience is is the root. Learning how to wait is the gateway to so many skills that are required later in life! By having your child enrolled in a Montessori school and sprinkling a patience activity here and there into your child’s time with you, only the sky will be the limit to your child’s potential.