ABOUT THE SERIES: This summer, I’m working on developing my kids’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Each week, we’re focusing on a specific characteristic. Through this series, I’m giving you the books, discussion questions and action plans we’re using. Last Week: Teaching Kindness This week: Teaching Patience
There’s this little mantra I’ve written that I whisper to myself whenever I’m close to losing my mind with my kids. It goes like this:
“Patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience. (Deep breath.) Patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience, patience.”
I know: It’s pure poetry.
Sometimes I feel like the Bible is mocking me: Patience (my own personal Achilles heel) is mentioned dozens of times — pointedly. I mean, take I Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind … .” There it is — right up in front!
Patience is so far from being my strong suit that I’m not certain it’s even in my deck.
So, how on Earth, I ask myself, am I supposed to teach my children patience when I struggle so much with it myself?
With patience, in particular, I’ve decided it’s best to just own up to my struggle — and ask for forgiveness when I fall short: “Look, kids, Mommy is struggling to be patient right now. Yes, you three need to do a better job of listening. But my job is also to take some deep breaths and to remain calm. So, please — (mentally thinking, ‘for the love of all that is freakin’ holy’) — give Mommy a few minutes of quiet.”
Note: One of my children views that statement as a “Let’s Try To Actually Drive Mom Crazy” challenge, like a pre-teen version of “Hold my beer.”
But I keep trying.
Book Selections for Teaching Patience
Waiting Is Not Easy (preK-K), by Mo Willems
Llama Llama Red Pajama (preK-K), by Anna Dewdney
Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild (early elementary), by Mem Fox
Patience, Miyuki (early elementary), by Roxane Marie Galliez
101 More Life Skills Games for Children: Learning, Growing, Getting Along (late elementary-middle school), by Bernie Badegruber
A Wrinkle In Time (late elementary-middle school), by Madeleine L’Engle
Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel Of The Landmark Civil Rights Case (high school), by Patricia Hruby Powell
Discussion Questions for Teaching Patience
How would you define or describe patience?
What is the definition of patience? (Look up in dictionary.)
When is it hard to be patient? Why is it hard to be patient at those times?
What other feelings contribute to our impatience (tiredness, frustration, resentment, etc.)?
Let’s talk about times when we might be impatient: How would we respond with patience? How would we response with impatience? What happens next when we’re patient? Impatient? What are the consequences? How do we feel?
Summarize your discussion: “So, when we’re patient with each other, we feel __________ and we get ______________ .”
What are ways we can be patient at home? at school? in our community?
Action Plans for Teaching Patience
(Here are some options in case you’re stuck. But I encourage you and your kids to pick your own. It’s more fun, and they’ll be way more engaged!)
For younger kids: Act out scenarios when kids might feel impatient at home, school and in the community. Perform each scenario twice — once in which the characters respond to the situation patiently and one in which the characters respond with impatience. Make sure that the “play” includes what happens after the patient/impatient response.
Have fun with this! Let the kids make backdrops for their scenes. Let them dress up. We’re teaching them, yes, but it’s also a chance for fun and family bonding!
(BONUS POINTS: Record this on your phone and put it on YouTube. Many kids love making YouTube videos.)
For older kids/teens: Ask them to write a short story about someone who has to exercise patience for a significant reason in their life. Have a sibling or parent read the story. Discuss the importance of patience in the character’s story.
All ages: Create a game that rewards patience. Play it as a family.