A few days ago, I was watching a movie with my younger brother and, as most kids do, he asked questions incessantly throughout the entire sitting. While agitation churned inside me, I tried my very best to respond to all of his queries in a calm, collected manner. Patience truly is a virtue, and a challenging one at that. However, my brother’s innocent determination to understand the complexities of the film we were watching highlighted the importance of patience in its faceted application and merits. Sometimes patience is about waiting in line, other times it may be about cooperating with someone you may not have liking for, but whatever the situation, patience cultivates an inner peace that allows us to move through this world with a certain dignity, both for ourselves and those around us.
According to a study conducted by Naser Alghababaei and Mohammad Taghi Tabik, patience is associated with higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of depression, anxiety, and psychological dysfunction. Thus, patience as a virtue and character strength nurtures one’s well-being.
So how can we ensure we foster such virtues and traits in our children?
- Stay true to your word: when making promises to children, it is important that we fulfil our side of the agreement. Children don’t often forget what they truly want, and if we make them wait longer for what they were promised or break the promise altogether, they will develop an inaccurate sense of time and a habit of wanting what they asked for as soon as they desire it, out of fear that it may never come otherwise. Therefore, we must ensure that our end of the bargain is upheld.
- Experience the wait: if your child is waiting somewhere, for example at the dentist’s, let them pass the time in a way that is more engaging and productive so that they feel the passing of time in a fruitful manner. When we use our phones to play games or watch a show we do not experience time in a way that allows us to be consciously present. Learning to wait cultivates patience.
- Practice patience: a more active practice of patience can be carried out with little activities in the home. For example, if your child wants a cookie, show them the cookie then tell them “wait for a moment please”. Turn around and count a few seconds before turning back and giving them the cookie. Try this out with different scenarios, increasing the wait time a little bit each time. Such an activity will actively teach your child to wait and be patient in waiting.
There are countless more ways to practice patience, as is wonderfully demonstrated in Episode 7: Patience and Perseverance, which can be watched here.
The advantageous effects of patience on mental health permeate into other aspects of our lives, such as the ability and drive to achieve our goals, create meaningful connections with others, and more. We can think of patience as a spirituality that allows us to experience our walk through life in more profound, meaningful ways. It is therefore crucial that we engender such a spirituality in our children, so that they can lead gratified and prosperous lives.
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