At first glance, patience may be a fruit of the Spirit that means the same to the world as it does to Christians, and in many ways it does. Christians, however, have an added spiritual dynamic to patience. We at times have God ask us to wait for Him.
Waiting on God can at times require more patience than we care to have. Partially because God does not tell us when He will heal someone we love or return to take us to Heaven. We have to be patient in the unknown…which can be much more difficult than knowing we will only have to be patient for a specific period of time.
As you teach your children about patience, don’t forget to discuss this spiritual aspect of patience. Read Psalms and other places where people in the Bible grew impatient waiting for God. How did they handle it? Did they try to “help” God like Sarah, and unknowingly cause thousands of years of conflicts? Did they voice their frustration to God like in some of the Psalms? What happened when they were patient?
There are some fun things you can do with your kids to help them be more patient…some in more conventional ways and others with a more spiritual focus. Patience and perseverance often work together, so don’t be afraid to tackle both with the same activity. Although perseverance is not a fruit of the Spirit, it is mentioned in the Bible as a necessary character trait for Christians.
Here are some of our favorite ways to help kids work on patience.
- Board games. Let’s be honest. Playing Candy Land with your child requires a tremendous amount of patience! That game can last forever! Depending upon the age of your kids though, many other games require patience in various forms. Whether it’s the length of the game, the behavior of other players or the way the game itself is played, games are one of the easier, fun ways to help your kids be more patient.
- Jigsaw puzzles. The more pieces involved and the more difficult the design, the more patience it will require. Want to test someone’s patience? Hide the last piece and you will have a quick idea for how patient others are.
- Cooking. This works on patience the most of it is a food your child particularly loves or if they are already a bit hungry when you begin cooking. With cooking options today, you can start by stretching your kids’ patience by a few seconds with a microwave recipe or minutes to hours using traditional ovens and stoves.
- Arts and crafts. The less experience your child has and the more intricate the project, the more patience it will require. Some crafts like sewing, require pulling out mistakes and beginning again in order to complete the project.
- Teaching a parent or sibling a new skill. This activity can have other side benefits as well. If your kids have knowledge about a social media platform, a new technology, or something else that you don’t know, have them teach it to you thoroughly. For many kids, you won’t have to fake having trouble understanding what they are teaching you…an even faster than average learning curve with a parent can make them extremely impatient. Once they can teach you something with patience, they can try teaching a sibling something.
- Musical instruments. Learning to play an instrument well requires patience and perseverance. The more difficult the instrument, the more practice they will need to master it…requiring more patience and perseverance. The key for success though, is allowing the child to choose an instrument they are passionate about mastering. If the instrument is dictated, it may require more patience from you than them!
- Races, hiking, rock climbing. Set goals and help them increase their stamina towards reaching the goal. Sometimes an external motivator for reaching the final goal can make patience a little easier.
- Waiting. Whether it’s waiting in a check out line, waiting for you to cook dinner or waiting for the sermon to end, learning how to wait patiently is a skill that requires practice. Real waiting isn’t fun, but encourage your kids to find ways that help the time pass more quickly.
Teaching your kids patience, may require your patience as well. You may find doing these things with your children makes you more patient as well. Everyone will benefit when your family is more patient.