Patience is not something someone is born with. It is an acquired skill, and not one that everyone learns. I still have to exercise my patience everyday, as a mother, wife, and human being on planet earth. I remember my parents saying “Patience is a Virtue” and never knowing what they meant. What I wish they had told me was “Patience is not about the ability to wait, it’s about the ability to keep a GOOD ATTITUDE while waiting”. Because that I can understand.
Time is going to pass, whether we get our act together and do something with it or not. Trust me, I know this. I have been through depression and did nothing but lay in bed for several months. And I look back now and wish I had spent that time doing something, all that precious time, wasted… well, I was sick, so it wasn’t by choice. But the point is that time passed, regardless. When you have to wait for something, time will pass, regardless. Patience is a person being happy and having a good attitude while having to wait.
I want to teach Gregory patience, it’s difficult to do that when he’s two. But I think I’ve been able to communicate with him and he’s now able to better understand me when I explain that we need to wait and be patient. We will get to whatever it is that he so direly needs to get to, it will just take a little longer than he requires. He would throw a tantrum and cry until he got his way before I started teaching him patience. This was not good for my nerves. Especially when we were out in public and momma gets social anxiety.
Step One: Starting Out Easy
I really wanted to start introducing patience in a simple and fun way. Honestly, I couldn’t think of any other way than finding a video or cartoon that Gregory enjoys that focuses on patience. We’ve been really into The Big Comfy Couch at our RAD house lately. I was a major fan as a little girl and love sitting to watch with my Bean. I found an episode where Loonette learns a little bit about patience, and I wanted to share with you because it was a fun and entertaining way to start our journey. Maybe it’ll be a hit with your Little too.
Don’t forget to do the clock rug stretch!
Step Two: Explaining Yourself
I don’t enjoy baby-ing Gregory. He’s a person and deserves to be respected and treated as a full person. Of course I take into consideration is level of comprehension and age, but I think children are more capable of understanding us if we talk to them like they are a person who can understand us. Having this mindset provoked me to start talking to Gregory about our plans. This was my Step Two.
I plan our month, week, and rough daily activities for me and Gregory, it’s really essential for me as a SAHM. Doing this I can easily look forward in the week and see what we’ve got planned. On Monday night when I’m putting Gregory to bed, and we’ve finished reading out books, singing our songs and now I’m talking to him about the day, I started to add in what we planned for the next day when he wakes up. The conversation looks like this.
“I had a really nice day with you today. Remember when we went outside and the kitty got scared of the mailman and fell off the fence? [giggles with Bean] And that birdhouse you painted, I loved how you chose to paint it. Very nice. We can go outside and hang it up in the tree tomorrow morning when it’s dry. After we have a sleep and wake up in the morning, we’ll check it and hang it up. Does that sound good? …”
The conversation continues on like that. You can see where I threw in something about what we can do the next day? I might also tell him that in two days we’ll go to the library and get new books. Or on Friday we’re going to play with the Kids, Aunti Pauline and Aunti Karla at Regalia class. Gregory gets excited and really happy right before he goes to sleep, and I make sure to inform him that we only go after he sleeps. I like doing this because he goes to sleep imagining the fun times he is going to have, promoting healthy, happy dreams.
And no, he doesn’t overexcited and suddenly rowdy right as I’m putting him to sleep. We’re usually whispering quietly, laying in bed, having quiet time. It’s an intimate moment together that I really enjoy having with him. And I love it when he wakes and runs to me in the morning and says “Burr-how?” And request me to immediately check on the dryness level of his recently painted birdhouse and hang it up outside. He looks forward and remembers what we are going to do as a result of our intimate good-night conversations.
Step Three: Checking In with Your Toddler
This might sound silly, but I check in with my toddler. If we’ve got plans to go ride the choo-choo train, you can bet your bottom Gregory knows about those plans. He loves his trains. But the trains don’t open until 10AM, and only on the weekends. So we can’t go until after nap/lunch time, which gets us out of the house around 2pm. When we wake up with plans to go to the choo-choo we talk about our plans for the day over breakfast so he knows our game plan… and that I didn’t forget about the choochoo.
“Gregory, you want to go to the choo-choo train today still, right? Okay, good. Me too. [giggles with Bean] We can’t go until the train opens, which isn’t until after nap time. SO! We’re going to finish up breakfast, I’ll tidy up the house while you watch *Insert educational show he is hooked on at the moment*. Then we’ll play for a bit and have a nap. THEN we’ll wake up, have lunch and go to the train, okay? Cause the train will be open when we wake up and eat lunch. The train will come out of his home.”
Once again, I explain our plans to Gregory, he listens and I’m never sure if he grasps everything I say. I tell him in my normal voice, as if I’m talking to another grown up, but I use words and sentences he’ll understand. Reminding my son that I, too, am excited for the train, and that we will go, we’ve just got to wait a bit. Waiting for the train is not a fun time. But it has become much more bearable since I’ve started to check in with him.
Checking In with my toddler means as we finish our tasks, making our way closer to going to the train, I’ll make sure to let Gregory know. As I finish washing the dishes and get ready to make the bed, I’ll tell him.
“Gregory, look! I’ve finished the dishes so fast. I’ll go make the bed and I’m almost done cleaning. Then we can play, have a nap, eat lunch and go to the CHOO-CHOO TRAIN! We’ve just got to be a little patient, that’s all.”
Yes, I am yelling at you with those capital words! Emphasis and enthusiasm helps my toddler understand that I’m excited to have fun, and that we will get to the fun. It’s a process. Sometimes I’ll even tell him “We’ve just got to go through the process, then we’ll have lots of fun.” 9 times out of 10 he gets so excited, cheers, smiles and sits back down to let me go finish tidying. The tenth time he comes to the bedroom with me to join in making the bed.
Gregory understands me, he is learning so many words everyday. Just because he can’t speak them doesn’t mean he can’t comprehend it. Having control over your mouth is tough enough as it is. He’s still learning to get all his food in his mouth. I don’t expect him to full communicate verbally back to me. Gregory’s ability to understand me means I can help him understand how to be patient. To wait for something with a good attitude.
Patience is a virtue, the ability to wait for something with a good attitude will make you a happier, and friendlier person. It’s not easy teaching a toddler patience, they don’t understand much about the world yet. But I can help my toddler understand and learn, and I have. These three simple steps I’ve taken are again: introducing patience in a nonchalant way, explaining the game plan to him, and checking in with him by updating on the progress made towards our goal of having fun together. Each time we are a small step closer.
Before You Go
Let me know what you’ve done to teach your toddler patience, and if my system worked for you. It doesn’t work overnight… well, it might. But don’t bet on it. Remember that learning is a process, and your are teaching your child patience. The more patience you have during this process, the less frustrated they will become and easily absorb what you are trying to convey to them. Children want to understand, they want to please mom and dad. Life is just a hard thing to get a hold of.
I’m teaching my son how to be patient. It’s pretty RAD, it’s a slow process, but it’s really helped those moments when I need my Little to know that we will get to the fun, all in good time. It’s also helped me realize what is most important, what things on my list do not need to be before having fun with my son. Now THAT is something worth noting. In teaching my son patience, I have learned what things are worth more than fun.
Pro Tip: Not very much is worth more than having fun. Some chores need to be done, and some chores are great at passing time. But chores that are being done now that could be done later should be put off. Choose your kids first.