“Wait a Minute…”

Purposeful Parent Tip:  Patience is within all of us. Show your child how to access this gift.

“Patience, my dear, patience.”  How many times have you heard this phrase?
Perhaps it was when you were a child anxiously waiting for that new toy. Or
maybe as an adult, you found yourself saying this to your own child as they
tugged on your skirt for attention. It can be hard to wait no matter what your
age. 

We live in a time that promotes the exact opposite ofwaiting. We live in a “want it now, get it now” culture and our children are experiencing this as well.  Unlike our parents and ancestors, we wait for nothing. There’s instant coffee, instant lotto scratch-off games, instant access to information via the Internet.  Got a question? In less than five seconds,Google will return not just one answer, but multiple from which to choose.

No idea what to make for dinner? Not to worry. Your local fast-food or diner can take care of that for you. See a great new handbag in the store window that you want? You can get it instantly with a swipe of your credit card. All of the modern conveniences were invented to make our lives easier and less stressful. However, I have to wonder if they really have.

Because I know that I can get a pizza delivered in less than 20 minutes, it makes me jam pack my day right up until the delivery person appears at my door. I don’t have to plan to make dinner because it’s done for me. Now I’ve written quite a bit about my dinner woes, but truth be told, rather than plan a meal, it’s simply easier to order one up. That is, until you review your checking account ledger and see entry after entry made out to local restaurants and fast-food establishments. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially after you’ve spent monies at the grocery store that same week.

More importantly, what is this crazed and frantic lifestyle teaching my children? To date, it has taught them to rush around and then settle for a quick meal so that you have more time to rush around again. And worse, it has taught them that there’s no need to wait for anything. This spills over into other areas of their life, not just dinner.

There’s no need to wait for the sneakers to be shipped in the normal delivery timeframe. By paying extra, they can have them in a few days. There’s no need to save up for that video game, you can trade in an old one and get the latest and greatest one today.

When they are faced with a situation where they do have to wait, they’re lost. They become irritable and whiny. Things aren’t happening fast enough. There’s no instant gratification. We become frustrated with our children when this happens, but who taught them this behavior?  We did.

Every time we honk a horn at a car driving too slow or huff and puff because we have to wait in the grocery store line behind the person with a full cart, or roll our eyes at the customer service representative who isn’t processing our return fast enough for us, we teach our children that waiting is an undesirable state. We teach them impatience. How are we to teach our children to be patient when we can’t even wait at a stop light without
becoming frustrated?

It’s almost 2012. We live in a fast-paced world, there’s no doubt about that. Things will only get faster. But if our children are not taught that there’s value in waiting, there’s value in being patient, then how will they handle the bumps in the road when they are forced to wait? Will they one day become the rude person yelling at the teller at the bank who isn’t working fast enough? Will they bury themselves in debt because they can’t wait to save up for something they want to buy? Will they yell at their own children
who aren’t doing something up to par?

Our children learn by our example. They learn by watching and observing their parents and the adults around them. Your actions speak so much louder than your words, it is not even funny. Be the person you want your children to emulate. Show them the value of waiting by positively occupying your time or planning your day.  Start early. Make up fun games to do in the grocery line with your toddler. Do math calculations at the stop light. There are lots of things to do to pass the time constructively and teach your children how to do so in their own lives.

We are all born with patience. There are those who can readily access this gift and others who struggle. But we can all develop it and teach our children how to utilize this resource effectively so that waiting does not become something to avoid, but rather a small gift of time for which we can be grateful for in these busy times.

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2011-2024