Children do silly things, that’s a fact and a part of growing up. But there are times when your patience as a a parent/teacher are certainly tested.
Let’s be clear on the definition of patience firstly: ‘the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset’
Everybody has their own ‘patience barometer’, and some have a better one than others…
You can almost see daily people who seem to be devoid of patience when around children. I’m sure you have already created a mental image of a particular person you know that lacks patience.
I have numerous images of faces cast in my mind, certain teachers I know/knew, parents and even family members! Patience then, if we know it to be a virtue, why is it so lacking around us? I believe it is linked to language…
Patience comes hand in hand with language ability. If you’re able to express to a child how they can do better or do something in the correct way, what you say and how you phrase to them is hugely important to them learning quicker, and thus reducing the chances of the silliness in the future.
Words or phrases which infer a negative, such as; ‘don’t eat with your fingers’ can be replaced (disregarding the negative connotation); ‘eat with this fork instead’. In english this is quite a simple remedy.
However, something I noticed with the Chinese language however, is negative connotation words and prevalent in everybody speaking, especially so when directed at children. It seems fairly deep-rooted in the grammar, and thusly may not be such a quick fix as with english.
There are however other ways to become more patient and they are as follows:
Slow down and observe - when a situation is testing your patience, don’t rush into spouting out a flurry of words which could easily make the situation worse. Instead take a deep breath, control your emotion, engage your brain and either say nothing or say the right thing! Remember ‘a meaningful silence is always better than meaningless words’.
Sing a song - it’s simple and often effective at taking a child’s attention away from the current situation. You don’t need to be a Mary Poppins (although would definitely help)!
Play along - if the situation allows it of course, play along with it, and you’ll be surprised how easy it can be turned into something humorous and positive.
Reminders of past positives - remind your child on the positive past experiences you’ve experienced together and they may see why the current situation is not to be expected.
Express your feelings and thoughts - let the child know the effect their behaviour is having on you, this will give them a chance to raise their empathy level.
I've summed up the previous statements in the graphic below:
I hope that the next time your patience comes to be tested, take a step back and do one or all of these!