More and more, children seem to lack the patience, resilience and commitment to see an activity through without becoming easily fatigued, agitated or overwhelmed. At school or at home, this can be a difficult hurdle to address. As adults, we understand that while we may live in a culture of instant gratification, success and self-development take a consistent and strong work ethic. We know that work takes commitment, effort, trial and error, passion and most often patience.
So how do we help our children overcome this hurdle?
In the final post of this three part series, I will share some tips on how to help children remain patient while working and enjoy the process of their work instead of becoming frustrated and overwhelmed by it.
5 Tips to Help Children Enjoy the Process of Work
Any adult, who has worked with children, knows that it’s a delicate balance of supporting children in their work while encouraging them to be patient and persistent throughout the process.
Below, I’ve shared some tips from my experiences finding this balance, as well as some benefits. I’ve also included ideas on how to help young children build patience while working, as well as, how to help children who are already struggling with frustration.
Practice Activities with Many Steps
Give your child tasks with several steps at an early age. As your child develops and masters those steps, add more steps into the activity. For example, toddlers may help prepare dinner buy cutting 1 vegetable for the meal. As they are ready, you can have them cut all the vegetables, stir the pot and wash the dishes. If your children are older, they can help prepare the whole meal from start to finish, set the table and even write up a menu! As they are ready, you add in more responsibilities and steps to the activity. This helps children to understand that work and activities are a process and helps them get used to the idea. They are also feeling like rock stars getting to help around the house.
Model Work and Projects
I will always go back to the importance of modeling, because children imitate and learn the behavior that they see. If you model that work is terrible and frustrating, then your child will develop a similar distaste for work. If you model that work can be challenging and fun, then your child will share similar feelings. Find fun projects to do together from big art projects to detailed construction projects. Take time working with your children and enjoy the process of the project even if it takes weeks or months to complete.
Encourage them to See it Through
Children need to understand that when you commit to do something, you see it through until the end. So often we allow children to stop an activity that they wanted and chose to do or agreed to help us do. If they are saying they are bored or that it’s too hard, observe and see if you can figure out what’s going on. They may need a little help to move forward. If you can offer this help and show them how to do it and walk away, then do so. Be cautious in the way you help. Often, we help children too much or we enjoy their activity a little too much and then find ourselves finishing up on our own sans child. At the very least, have your child stay with you and watch while you finish the task, so that they will know how to do it next time.
Give them Space and Show Trust
Nothing puts children off an activity, like an adult that doesn’t trust them or allow them to participate. They may say that they do not want to finish an activity or they are bored because in fact they just don’t want to work with you. Make sure that you aren’t taking over their work and that you are giving them the space to enjoy their activity. This is a balance but an important one to find.
Get Creative and Have Fun
Find creative ways to redirect children to complete activities that don’t involve punishment and reward. Think outside the box and make it fun! We like work especially when it’s purposeful and enjoyable. Sometimes, it’s as simple as making a game out of an activity. Other times, all children need is a little help breaking down the steps of a task. We can help children to really enjoy their work by showing them that work can be fun.
I would love to hear from you. What do you do with children to help them enjoy the process of work? How did you enjoy the series on building patience with children?
Keep well, S