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Patience With Children

It is hard for kids to be patient. The ability to manage impulse control simply isn’t there when we are children. It is a part of the brain that isn’t fully developed until much later in life. Like many parts of the brain, it needs practice to develop, which I feel is part of the reason that even some adults show little patience and impulse control when it comes to getting what they want or getting things done by a particular timeline.

Children have it especially rough because they have to wait for so many things. Wait until you are older. Wait until after dinner. Wait until someone can help you with that. Children are told to wait a lot, both verbally and subconsciously the message is being sent to children. Many of these same children are also simultaneously receiving the message to hurry up. Parents get especially frustrated when it is time to go somewhere and children are slowing them down. Requests come with an edge to them and then comes the phrase, “how many times do I have to tell you?!”

By this time, both parents and children end up leaving the house frustrated and angry. Parents wonder why children can’t just listen the first time when they were told to get ready. Children wonder why the parents are being so rude.

It makes me think of an interaction I witnessed the other day. The man calmly repeated his directions over and over again. As he gave clear and simple directions, the person he was talking to kept getting distracted, wasn’t listening at times, or wasn’t understanding at times. I listened to the man speaking slightly louder and slower and working to make sure she understood and completed his instructions, no matter how many times he had to give them. The man never became agitated or raised his voice in anger or annoyance with her. In the end, she completed the task and both of them walked away from the interaction unscathed. I believe the biggest factor in how the man talked to her, despite having to repeatedly explain the directions, was that she was not a small child; she was an 80 year old woman.

Some people may think, “but we need to respect our elders.” I do not disagree. However, I think that respecting our elders does not mean that the opposite must also hold true. We do not need to be disrespectful to our children in order to get them to listen to us. In the end, the task will still get done, but both parents and children will fare better if the adults can manage to take a deep breath and muster up their patience when talking to their children. Children learn most things by modeling those around them, especially the people who are important to them. We need to demonstrate how to be patient, how to remain level headed and calm, and rest assured that they are still growing and developing

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