when . . . then

On Not Being ALL Things to Your Kids by Teaching Them to Wait

The Goal

Any mom who is serious about being a good mother struggles with this. She wants to be available to her children; she wants them to know they can depend on her and trust her.  Every child needs to feel secure and settled. No child should be lonely or afraid, so moms cave in to whims and requests even when they themselves are busy. Moms want their kids to feel significant and important. These are all good desires for our kids, but there’s a way to get there without compromising yourself. This way helps you achieve this without becoming a slave to all things children.

Waiting Teaches Patience

We start by helping our child understand that the world does not revolve around him. Certainly an infant doesn’t understand that. If he’s hungry, he expects to be fed; when he’s wet or soiled, he expects to be cleaned up. When he’s got a bubble down there, he expects someone to help him burp it up. After a nap, he expects to be picked up. He only  knows the world as himself and is too young to understand that waiting won’t hurt him. That’s why we need to help him understand this. We do it by making him wait. 

Unless, of course, we think we must be all things to our kids. Then, before we know it, we’ve continued that norm into toddler-hood and childhood. Our kids expect us to drop anything we are doing to meet their demands because, after all, a child is too young to understand the word “wait.” 

Therein lies the problem. We lose opportunities to help our children learn the art of patience – of waiting, and doing so willingly.

teaching kids patience

Starting Them Young

I remember mornings when I had a house full of Littles. I’d sneak downstairs, fix a cup of coffee and settle on the sofa with my Bible. Taking a deep breath, I’d inhale the quiet and begin reading. Then it happened. Like a magnet drawing kids to me, that moment on the sofa was gone when one or more of my kids sensed my movement and found me. I finally learned to tell them that this was my time with Jesus. I’d tell them, “I need to read my Bible and listen to Jesus so I can be a better mommy. When I am finished, then I will get your breakfast.”

They learned to wait without complaining. You know something? It didn’t hurt them to wait fifteen or thirty minutes for breakfast. So what if their stomachs were rumbling? They weren’t malnourished and they needed to learn to wait. And, my hubby kept assuring me, I needed to take care of me.

The same is true for anything else happening in your house. Our children can be taught to wait quietly and patiently; they need to learn that the world still doesn’t revolve around them; that life brings us times of waiting, and patience makes the waiting easier. 

To help a child learn this, he can sit in Time Out for a certain number of minutes so he understands what “wait” means. For example, if he’s fussed and begged and bellyached for that snack or treat or for you to play a game with him; if you’ve told him he needs to wait and he keeps complaining, then teach him what it means to wait – and to do it patiently. Put him in Time Out and set the timer. Tell him that until he can sit there for x-number of minutes without complaining, you cannot meet his request. When he has waited those minutes without a complaint, then you will fulfill the request.

There are two reasons to do this.

The End Goal

First, he needs to realize that life is not about him; that sometimes there are other things or people that are more important than him in that moment. He needs to learn to be unselfish, and one of the best ways to do this is to help him learn to wait.

Second, if he can’t learn to wait in life situations now, he will not learn what it means to wait on God. If we teach our kids that their demands are higher priority than anyone else’s, then they will expect God to put their demands in top priority. It’s a life lesson, and we should start teaching it to our kids when they are toddlers. We’ll never raise a Moses or a David if we cater to our kids instead of teaching them to wait.

When we have to wait, we learn patience. We learn to trust, and we learn to be grateful – all character traits any of us should own. A patient child is a happy child. And happy children make a happy home.

teaching kids to wait

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