I want what I want and I want it now. Thanks to the Internet I can instantly look up the answer to table topic questions. I want my burger well done and on my plate as soon as my mouth starts watering, and I lean toward going to the farmers market rather than grow my own vegetables.
My patience is short. Especially when it comes to my child’s behavior, it is hard for me to not react with a “I told you not to color on the floor without a piece of paper underneath your drawing,” instantly. So how can I teach patience?
This recently came up at a church gathering, and my pastor answered that you can’t. He says patience can’t be taught. Patience has to be modeled.
This challenged my whole notion of asking my pre-school son to wait for the chips at lunch until he finished his vegetables. Just one mention of serving chips with the sandwiches sent him into a frenzied tailspin of wanting the chips instantly and screaming for them.
The one area where I feel patience can be taught is in not responding immediately when my son struggles with something, say zipping up his jacket. I’ll often say, in a minute or an I believe you can do it for some support. Even my nine-month old infant doesn’t need to be picked up instantly when whining ensues.
Scholastic Parent’s resources mentions several things that can help teach patience: using reflective listing, keep expectations reasonable and even using a timer. However, the first bullet in their list of ways to teach patience is to model patience.
There is an old anti-drug PSA where the father holds out the paraphernalia and asks his teenage son where he learned to use this stuff. “I learned it by watching you,” the son shouts back.
And why is the old axiom of do as I say and not as I do ringing in my ears right now?
This question of whether patience can be taught is debatable, but the more I look at it, the more I think it must be modeled. I don’t instantly need to rush in at my son’s frustrating whines. The baby doesn’t instantly need soothing when fussy. And ignoring the tug at my shirt while talking to my wife is healthy, for both our marriage and modeling patience.