I was brushing my almost-4-year-old niece’s hair a few Saturday’s back when she cunningly tried to squirm away from me. On returning her back to the mirror I bargained that if she counted to 10, slowly, I would be done. She turned around, looked at me, touched my arm and said; “No Jodi, I need to learn patience.” I was speechless- what a mature statement! It got me thinking more about patience and how my sister-in-law has managed to instill the seeds at such a young age.


We are all familiar with the the saying that patience is a virtue and the Bible has numerous references to practicing patience.

  • 1 Corinthians 13v4 “Love is patient…”
  • Colossians 1v11 “… unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.”
  • 2 Peter 1v6 “And to knowledge self control; and to self control patience; and to patience godliness.”
  • Ecclesiastes 7v8 “…and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5v14 “… be patient to all men.”
  • Hebrews 6v15 “And so, after he patiently endured, he obtained the promise,” to name a few.

What does patience teach a child? The skill of delaying gratification is most definitely a skill necessary for maturity. Patience can develop the ability to think through and resolve difficulties and it can even counteract impulsivity. The value of patience lies in its ability to lead to inner calm and emotional strength of character.

How do we teach a child patience?  Teaching patience, by example, helps children learn resilience, self-containment and the ability to self-soothe. Listen carefully, suggest taking a breather, practice relaxation techniques and quiet time. Don’t come running every time your child asks you to do something. Do projects together that require patience. For example gardening and growing vegetables. Break out a sand timer occasionally. Stories are an excellent way to help little children be patient. You can use their dolls, stuffed animals, toy soldiers or puppets as characters in a story about patience. Instill self-esteem in little children with honest feedback. The better children feel about themselves the more able they will be to hold themselves together with authentic patience when the situation requires. Offer mindful coping for frustrations like breathing, counting, bringing them back into their bodies; touchstones; anger dance (shake it off physically and in a silly way; get them to lighten up). Lastly, deliver on promises.


 Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity  -Carl Jung


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