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Teaching children patience (3) - FRIDAY MARCH 24

‘For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.’ Hebrews 10:36 NKJV

Do these three things:

1) Don’t be Mr or Mrs Quick-Fix-It. Your kids need to learn to respond the right way to difficult conditions. That means dealing with frustrations, not being rescued from them. Overprotecting produces a sense of inadequacy and powerlessness in them. By quick-fixing everything, you’ll rear children who cannot handle life. They’ll expect to be rescued from all trouble, and become overly dependent on others. The Bible says, ‘Troubles make us more patient’ (Romans 5:3 ERV). Allow your children to experience age-appropriate challenges, and they will thank you later for the strengths and coping skills they’ve developed.

2) Prepare them to wait. When you know in advance that your child will have to wait (for instance, in a doctor’s office or an airport), help them prepare for it. ‘Make the best use of your time’ (Ephesians 5:16 NLV). Have them pack items they enjoy. Because they chose the items, they’ll feel they invested in the process.

3) Keep a positive attitude. If you constantly complain while waiting in traffic, or for someone who’s late, your children will do the same. Instead, try saying, ‘This delay gives us time to tell each other about our day.’ Or, ‘Even when we feel frustrated about waiting, God’s timing is always perfect!’ Teach them God’s perspective on patience: ‘You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong’ (James 5:7 MSG).

Teaching children patience (2) - THURSDAY MARCH 23

‘Bring forth fruit with patience.’ Luke 8:15 KJV

Here are five more teaching tips:

1) Teach by experiment. Toddlers through ‘tweens’ can appreciate the time it takes a plant to grow, so involve them in planting a seed and watching it grow. Explain how everything in life takes time to change and develop. Teach the meaning of Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV: ‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.’

2) Make use of visuals. Younger children especially need visuals when waiting for an event to happen. If it’s 4:30 and dinner is at 5:00, use a timer. If it’s eighteen days until the family holiday, let them mark the days off on a calendar. Often their problem with waiting is not knowing when it will end.

3) Don’t interrupt and don’t tolerate interruptions. Toddlers to teens - kids interrupt! Adults, too. Interruptions are usually a rude and frustrating display of impatience. Unless it’s an emergency, be clear: Kids - and adults - are to wait their turn to speak. It’s more than good manners - it’s obeying God’s Word. ‘There is…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak’ (vv. 1, 7 NKJV).

4) Make use of board games. Most board games require taking turns, which means waiting. Your kids will hardly realise they’re practising patience! Chess and draughts are good for tweens. Scrabble educates teenagers and teaches them patience.

5) Reward their patience. When your toddler waits for his sippy cup to be filled while you feed the baby, thank him for waiting so well. If your teen saves her money to buy a new phone, compliment her wisdom and reinforce it by perhaps donating the last few pounds to her purchase.

Teaching children patience (1) - WEDNESDAY MARCH 22

‘But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.’ Romans 8:25 NLT

Waiting patiently is what life, God, and success demand. Even when we’ve done the right things, God requires us to wait for the results. ‘You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise’ (Hebrews 10:36 NKJV). How do we help our children develop this vitally important life skill? Writer and mother Tammy Darling says:

1) Set clear boundaries. For instance, say, ‘You may have that when I’ve seen you wait patiently.’ Don’t be moved by their demands!

2) Refocus their attention. Queuing in a shop can be an occasion for impatience. So try a guessing game - like ‘I Spy’ - with younger kids, or get older kids talking about family holiday plans.

3) Teach by example. Do you pass other motorists on the road just to get one car-length ahead? Impulsively buy something on a credit card rather than wait until you have the money to buy it? Whether they’re three or thirteen, your children learn by watching you.

4) Avoid constantly saying, ‘Hurry up!’ Toddlers typically dawdle. They’ve no idea how long getting ready takes. So instead of always telling them to hurry, help them learn the process and pace of getting ready. ‘It’s time to put your toys away…time to get your shoes and socks on…time to put your jacket on.’ Instead of frustrating them with commands to hustle, involve them in actions they understand and can handle. This teaches them how to manage time practically.

Be kind to the unkind - TUESDAY MARCH 21

‘Pray for those who mistreat you.’ Luke 6:28 NIV (2011 Edition)

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you’ (vv. 27-28 NIV 2011 Edition). Then He added, ‘Your reward will be great’ (v. 35 NIV 2011 Edition). God sees, He records, and He’ll reward you for every kind act you do. It’s easy to be kind to those who are kind to us, but you must grow in grace in order to be kind to the people who mistreat you.

In the comic strip Nancy, the character Sluggo once told Nancy, ‘That new kid in school is nothing but a big fathead!’ Nancy replied, ‘You shouldn’t call people names like that. I never call people names.’ Sluggo replied, ‘Well, I just got mad when he said you were stupid looking.’ Whereupon Nancy demanded, ‘What else did that big fathead say?’ It’s easy to react to acts of kindness with kindness. The real challenge is responding with kindness to those who lack it.

In 2009, tired of the vicious attacks politicians make against each other and the talking heads in media who label people ‘ignorant, stupid, and dumb’ because they don’t espouse their political philosophy, Mark DeMoss launched a movement known as the Civility Project. Its pledge goes like this: ‘I will be civil in my public discourse and behaviour. I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them. I will stand against incivility when I see it.’ It’s a good policy to adopt! Every one of us has a ‘kindness kit’ we carry with us everywhere we go. It’s better known as our tongue. Never underestimate the power of one kind word.

Judgment day will be a great day for you - MONDAY MARCH 20

‘Our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.’     1 John 4:17 MSG

Will you get into heaven because you are worthy? No, you’ll get there because Jesus, the One in Whom you’ve placed your trust, is worthy! ‘As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love’ (vv. 17-18 NLT).

On the day of judgment earthly wealth won’t matter. Physical beauty won’t be factored in. Fame will be forgotten. You might stand next to Napoleon or Julius Caesar, but you won’t be asking them about Waterloo or Brutus. All eyes will be on Jesus. Those who ignored Him will hear the words, ‘Depart from me’ (Matthew 25:41 KJV). But for those who accept Him as their Lord and Saviour there need be no fear. ‘We can face him with confidence because we live like Christ here in this world.’ Think about that! God sees you the way He sees Christ - worthy and accepted.

And since you’re ‘in Christ’ you can view judgment day the way He does - with confidence. Does Christ fear judgment? No, a sinless soul needn’t. Does He fear death? No, the giver of life wouldn’t. So should we who are ‘in Christ’ fear judgment or death? Not at all: ‘Our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.’ So judgment day will be a great day for you!