In Fun Ways to Teach Kids Patience, I gave you activities to do to help your kids develop patience while waiting on God to fulfill His promises or while waiting on God’s perfect timing. Today, I want to give you some things you can do to help your kids develop the other type of patience – keeping their cool when someone or something is getting on their “last nerve”.
This is the kind of patience God requires us to give to others. Not because we are waiting for them to do something good for us, but because we want to treat them as we would wish to be treated. It’s the type of patience so rare in our world today. Just by having it, your children will stand out in a way that will make people want to listen when they share their faith.
If you are like me, you still struggle a lot to maintain this type of patience yourself. Just when I think I am getting better, someone manages to push every one of my “buttons” in thirty seconds flat and then my patience falls flat, too. So what are some things we can do to help our kids (and ourselves!) practice this patience when dealing with the negatives of life? The patience for which there may be no positive reward?
Only time and practice with the negatives of life will really test whether these activities make a difference, but they should help give your kids a little practice.
- Playing certain games. Granted board games aren’t meant to be painful, but sometimes the level of challenge can make them feel that way. (Operation for example!) Not all board games require patience and if your focus is on winning, the patience while doing something difficult can be lost. Try and find something challenging but not particularly competitive. Games like pick up sticks and Jenga usually have the person more focused on trying to improve their abilities than to “beat” someone else. Cooperative games can also be good for teaching patience. (I am not a big fan of video games because of all of the negatives attached and because they actually have secret “brain” rewards built in to get kids hooked on them.)
- Brain Teasers. Although these aren’t painful in the same way staying patient when someone makes you angry is, they can get really frustrating. Our daughter had a teacher that sent home some fun ones designed for gifted kids. Our neighborhood used to laugh because the teacher let families work on them together and we would all be out in the cul de sac trying to figure a couple of them out with neighbor families working on the same puzzles! I think the parents were more frustrated than the kids when we got stuck. The trick to practicing patience with these is to not allow your children to “give up” until they have solved the puzzle.
- Sorting through clothes and toys to give to others. Technically, there are some rewards built into the process, but since there is an element of chore involved… To make this activity help your kids develop patience for when they have to deal with something “negative” (the sorting), be patient and receive no reward, the last part is crucial. This is not the time to promise new things if they give away old ones. Or to promise ice cream when they are finished. There are Mary Poppins ways of making it a more enjoyable task like playing fun music while working . After you are finished, discuss ways of distracting themselves when they feel they are losing patience. (Like you used the music to do while you were sorting.)
- Distraction Treasure Hunt. Part of the trick in staying patient is to get your mind to take its focus off of the things that are bothering you. Probably, one of the many reasons behind Philippians 4:8. Have your kids go on a treasure hunt of sorts for ways to distract themselves when they feel themselves losing patience. What if they aren’t at home? What if they don’t have anything with them? Who can think of the most things? Encourage them to look around your house and/or yard for more ideas.
While none of these things will guarantee your child won’t snap his siblings’ heads off the next time they irritate him, it can be a beginning. Remind your kids they can be patient and learned to be while doing these activities. Teach them other ways to keep calm and be patient with others. It’s a godly life skill worth teaching.