Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit. God expects His people to be patient while waiting for His perfect timing in life. He also expects us to be patient with others – as in the ever popular, slow to anger.
Although we aren’t quite sure how the Holy Spirit helps us with the fruit of the Spirit, it’s never too early to help your kids practice patience. And as “unfun” as that sounds, there are plenty of fun ways to teach kids how to be more patient.
Let’s focus on the first kind of patience God expects from His people – the ability to wait patiently for God to fulfill His promises and to wait for the things for which your kids prayed and for which God is making them wait.
There are a lot of fun things you can do with your kids to help them practice and learn this concept. The trick is to give them the promise of a reward, but one for which they must wait. I believe scripture also gives us examples of God expecting people to do certain things while they wait for Him from time to time, so throwing in that aspect to your activity isn’t a stretch either. (The trick is making sure your kids understand that even if God wants them to do something while they wait, the eventual blessing is still from God and not themselves.)
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Ice cream in a jar. Place ½ c. heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla in a small zipper baggie and seal it well. Place the baggie in a quart mason jar and then fill the rest of the space with ice. Sprinkle the ice with salt and place the lid on the jar. Your child will need to shake the jar for five or ten minutes before the ice cream starts to freeze. (Note: Do this over a heavily carpeted area or over thick towels in case the mason jar is dropped. Or better yet, find a plastic mason jar or equivalent.)
- Butter in a jar. This one takes a lot of patience and will work better if your child has some hot biscuits, pancakes or rolls on which to enjoy the butter when it is finally ready. Take a mason jar (preferably plastic) and fill it ½ to ¾ of the way full with heavy whipping cream and add a pinch of salt. Place the lid on the jar and let your child shake and shake for probably at least twenty minutes. Eventually the solid will form, although there will still be some liquid left. Make sure it is solid or it’s more whipped cream than butter and will taste wrong! (Side note: The liquid left after removing the butter is buttermilk and can be used in your recipe for biscuits or breads!)
- Baking cookies that require the batter to refrigerate before cooking. My chocolate chip cookie recipe and my gingerbread cookie recipe both require a couple of hours in the fridge before baking to turn out well. Have your child help gather ingredients, mix the batter, time the refrigeration and then watch them as they bake. Want to make it extra challenging? Have them help you make a list and shop for the ingredients before baking!
- Planting seeds. This activity works best if the child is very young or absolutely loves the flower, fruit or vegetable from the plant you are growing. Otherwise the pay-out doesn’t make the lesson work as well. If you want to add a bit of excitement to the project, refuse to buy the item from the “crop” you have planted while you wait for it to grow in your own yard or container garden!
- Redecorating their rooms. We had a rule in our house that our daughter could only redecorate her room at ages 5, 10 and 15. It was about perfect developmentally as she would outgrow a taste for her current room about the time to redecorate again. Not only does the wait itself build patience, but the redecoration process requires a lot of hard work and patience. Even a five year old should put sweat equity into the process. He or she may be too young to help repaint a room at age five, but they can help cover and move stuff for the painting and depending upon the child, help tape woodwork, wash out paint brushes, etc.
Taking the time to help your kids develop patience will help them as they struggle to wait for God and His timing. Their patience will help the wait not become a stumbling block for their faith. Tomorrow I will share a few ways to help your kids develop the other type of patience required by God – being slow to anger.