Hiding from kids in dark linen closets can be a highly effective way for parents to have uninterrupted telephone conversations. But teaching your child the art of patience doesn’t just allow you to make phone calls in the comfort of a chair.
Patience is a critical social emotional skill. It is also remarkably similar to resilience.
Patience is defined by Google as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset,” while resilience is, simply put, a heightened version of this. Specifically, resilience is the ability to endure extreme stress. So what better way to strengthen your child’s resilience muscle than to require patience from them. And not only that, but according to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkley, “Research suggests that kids who grow up into patient adults not only have better health and mental health, but they also have stronger relationship skills and make more progress toward their goals.”Why Patience is Hard for People. Not Just Kids.
Patience is not just waiting. It’s how we behave while waiting. Much of the time, being patient amounts to simply knowing how to rest in quiet. It is understanding when to hold your tongue and not talk.
Of course, learning patience in a world of instant gratification, instant downloads and instant entertainment is not so easy. Furthermore, if patience equates to knowing how to be silent, our culture complicates that. Silence is often viewed as a void that must be filled. Lulls in the conversation are awkward and to be avoided. In Asian and Nordic countries, a silence in a discussion denotes careful thought. In Western countries, if someone does not answer a question immediately, people are concerned that others may think that they do not know the answer or there is something wrong.
The Benefits of Practicing Patience
The irony is that being able to be quiet is a skill that promotes social connection, rather than an indication of social ineptitude. Knowing how to be quiet is necessary for empathy, in fact. When you’re able to sit in silence, you can really listen to others. And not just listen—you can truly hear and appreciate another’s ideas when your brain isn’t rattling off a response to whatever they’re saying. When you’re able to sit in silence, you can give someone space when they’re frustrated and might just need a moment. When you’re able to sit in silence, you can allow your anger to pass when an argument is escalating, rather than scream or lose your temper.
Additionally, silence has a calming effect and can help us relax. According to the parents.com article “The Power of Silence & How to Help Kids Find More of It, loud “noises cause the body to produce cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone that causes us to feel stressed and anxious. Some studies show how chronic exposure to levels of sound greater than 50 to 55 decibels can boost these stress hormones and increase blood pressure, hypertension, and heart rate.”
Silence also helps us be present to the world around us. Essentially, all of our senses are heightened when we are silent. We may notice sounds that we never did before, and view our surroundings with a fresh perspective.
Plus there’s the social etiquette thing. People who talk too much or interrupt constantly are, to be frank, considered obnoxious or off-putting.
And yet, patience is a social skill like so many others that often doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught and practiced to be learned.
7 Ways to Help Your Child Become More Patient and Comfortable with Silence
1) Model your own ability for silence. Show the kiddos that you take time out of your busy day for quiet moments, such as meditation.
2) Keep your house free from excessive noise and don’t use the television as a backdrop to your life. Turn it off when nobody is watching it, especially when you are eating as a family or when your children are doing homework.
3) When you notice a moment of silence has arisen organically in your home, point it out and discuss the beauty of it and how it makes you feel.
4) Implement quiet meditation time for your children before bedtime or use it as a break during a busy day.
5) Try driving in silence. When the radio isn’t blaring or a podcast isn’t playing, everyone has a moment with their thoughts before or after their hectic day.
6) Hikes or walks through nature often lend themselves to quiet. Challenge your children to listen to all the natural sounds around them, such as the rustling of leaves and birds chirping.
7) Set up a quiet zone in your house using pillows or blankets or whatever suits your family. Maybe even locate it in that linen closet which you need no longer use for phone calls.
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