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Patience and self-control in a child – how to train them?

We don’t like waiting, but we often expect it from our children. Sometimes, the reason is for their safety, and sometimes it is required by savoir-vivre. Fortunately, there are ways that your little one can practice patience and self-control without becoming bored. As it turns out, the effectiveness lies in the simplicity of activities!

1. Abstract time

As a child learns to wait, we need to realise that time is an abstract concept for him. Because the area of the brain responsible for abstract thinking does not develop until around the age of 9, before that age, it is difficult for him to understand the difference between 15 and 30 minutes. Since the passage of time for children is noticeable only during normal activities, it is worth the effort to support him in learning communication skills and patience. How do we do it? We can mark the times of play, sleep, and rest on the clock with felt-tip pens or stickers. A child will understand much better that time for lunch is when the “little arrow” hits green. A timer can be a nice gadget – for example, you will find that your child will be more likely to brush his teeth when he must stop before the clock goes off.

2. In public places

Waiting for a tram or in a queue in a store or clinic are situations in which it can be difficult for a child to be patient. Unfortunately, when children get bored, they come up with various ideas, mostly crazy and not necessarily safe. In order to avoid such stressful situations, it is advantageous to use the child’s energy for another activity, preferably in the form of play. Search games, such as five red cars, skipping lines on the sidewalk, stomping only on the red leaves, or counting people standing at the cash register, are great ways to pass the time and learn self-control. Once your child can behave correctly in this form of waiting, you can move on to the next stage, games and playing “in the mind”. In this way, you can control him in places where silence is required.

3. Self-control and independence

This duo is a dream for every parent. A child who can control his emotions and has no problem taking care of himself – although it sounds abstract – is achievable. Immediately after your child learns to wait patiently, it is time to practise independent play, and you will not need to worry about any queue. This skill has a major plus – it can be used anywhere and anytime, and it depends only on the child’s imagination. Its resources are almost limitless! So, instead of playing a cartoon on your phone, suggest a game of treasure hunting, role-playing, or imitating sounds or even objects.

4. Creatively about events

We remember well from our childhood when we had to wait for a birthday, a holiday trip, or the arrival of Santa Claus. These are such emotionally charged events that even the most patient children will wriggle at the thought of Christmas presents or blowing out the candles on a cake. In this case, we can spark the joy of waiting in the little ones, which we can do by using a creative calendar (something like an Advent calendar). A shared activity for each day or a bag with a small sweet gift will surely transform the negative memory of waiting into something associated with fun and joy. A regular calendar can also be used where the child himself marks the days that have passed while waiting for a given event. In this way, he will speed the passage of time and unknowingly train himself in the process of achieving goals in stages.