Teaching Kids Patience
We had multiple kids so they could entertain each other.
Have you heard that explanation from parents, whether in truth or in jest? I have jokingly said that, but also am so thankful that my boys have each other as playmates. What I was not anticipating is how useful siblings are in teaching kids patience. Sibling relationships are prime ground for practicing and developing patience.
My boys are all two years apart in age. Often this leads to cooperative playtime, but because of the age differences there are also disagreements on how to play. For instance, when the boys were ages one, three, and five the five-year-old understood how toys were supposed to work and which action figures were the “good guys” or the “bad guys”. The one-year-old just wanted to chew on anything and everything. The three-year-old would be more interested in battles, but would be more prone to mixing up the characters or messing up the correct sequence of play. The one-year-old would get frustrated at not being included, the three-year-old would get frustrated that he was being told that he was playing wrong, and the five-year-old would get frustrated because no one was following the rules. Frustration abounded and impatience would lead to raised voices, thrown toys, and hurt feelings. I would use this opportunity to remind my boys, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32). I would encourage my older boys to be patient with their brothers and to teach them how to play correctly. I would suggest ways to play so that everyone could be happy and to save “big boy” games or toys for the younger brothers’ naptime. I would remind my older boys that sometimes they do not follow God’s rules and He is patient to give them plenty of opportunity to learn.
As the boys would grow older and each would hit new developmental stages, they would discover new ways to play together. The older boys would see the fruit of patience with the younger brothers. The younger brothers would learn the benefit of working together and following the rules. The boys would agree with Romans 14:19, which says, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Family relationships are prime ground for seeing how patience and working together are beneficial to all. This is serves as a clear example of how the family of God should work. By teaching our boys patience with each other, we are also preparing them to show patience to other believers as they grow and learn in the ways of the Lord.
Why is teaching our kids patience important? Paul reminds us, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4). Our primary purpose in parenting is to bring glory to God by raising little disciples of Christ. These little disciples will then grow to evangelize and disciple others. We teach our children the Fruit of the Spirit when they are young so that these seeds can grow and blossom. By teaching our children patience we are teaching them to put others before themselves and to imitate Christ in His unceasing patience towards us. By teaching our children patience we teach them to be members of the body and not concerned with merely their own bodies.
Want to know a secret? This doesn’t just apply to kids, but to any followers of Christ! How often do we, as mothers, need to practice patience with our children? How often do we need to be kind and forgiving when our children don’t seem to conform to our rules? How often do we need to remember to pursue what makes for peace as we wait for our children to outgrow childish habits? How often do we need to look towards the interests of our children and our whole families as we make decisions? Just as we are constantly in the process of teaching our children patience, so also the Lord is so graciously teaching us patience.
Siblings provide prime ground for practicing patience. What if your child does not have siblings? Find playmates for them at various ages so they can both practice having patience and receiving patience. We learn patience through relationships and experience and isn’t that just like our God, who is in the relationship and personal experience business.