Teach Your Kids to W.A.I.T with Patience

By Jessica Wolstenholm


Patience is not only a Biblical virtue, it’s a valuable life-skill that every human (young and old) needs to develop. Some people are naturally born more patient than others but we can all learn to grow in patience with a little practice.

Waiting for their turn on the playground or on an electronic device may seem impossible for children now but the character muscle that is exercised in those circumstances will one day be put to the test when they are waiting for their turn to be put in the soccer game or to get a part in the play. Developing patience in small things will help our children learn to trust God and His goodness so that one day when they must wait for big things—that dream job or a spouse—they’ll resist the urge to run ahead of God and possibly, His will for their life.

I’ll admit, I’m not naturally a patient person. God is using motherhood to continue to develop this character trait in my life. I often wondered how I could possibly teach them to be patient when I struggle with it myself. But the truth is . . .  no matter what value we desire to teach our children, we have to remember: we are imperfect parents guiding imperfect kids as we grow together.

The beauty of our walk with Jesus is that we’re constantly growing. When we show our kids that spiritual growth never ends, they learn to aim for progress over perfection.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 NLT

The very encouragement we use to remind ourselves to continue parenting with patience is the same we can use to teach our children that waiting without complaining will reap beautiful rewards according to God’s goodness and His plan for us. Patience takes practice. And our practice doesn’t stop once we hit a certain age. Our patience character muscle needs to be developed and then conditioned for the rest of our life.

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Whether a parent or a child; an adult or a kid, when we practice PATIENCE, these good habits are formed in us as we learn to WAIT:

W – We are WILLING to yield to God’s way (or Mom and Dad’s way)

Ask: Do you think God knows when and how we need things?

A – We ACCEPT God’s goodness (trust that he, along with Mom and Dad, will not withhold good things)

Ask: Do you believe that God is good and will not hold any good thing from you? Do you believe we (your parents) also want to bless you?

I – We IMAGINE God’s best for us (which comes when we wait with patience)

Ask: What would it look like to wait for God’s best? How would waiting be better than complaining or running ahead?

– We THANK God for our many blessings (those we have now and those to come)

Ask: Can you think of a time God blessed you beyond your imagination? What good things can we thank God for right now?

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As you teach kids about patience and help them develop this important character muscle, focus on these important steps.

Grow in patience together.

We don’t have to have it all together to teach our kids God’s way. In fact, our kids will build a faith more deeply rooted if we lead them with authenticity. Be honest about your own process of growing in patience and invite your children to grow with you.

Give your kids opportunities to practice patience.

It’s so much easier to just give in. But our kids need opportunities to develop their character muscles. Let them wait. Look for ways for them to practice waiting. Practice means progress.

Let your kids experience disappointment.

I absolutely hate it when my kids are disappointed and yet, I know disappointment is something they need to experience if they are going to survive real life. We don’t need to rescue our kids all the time or fix every situation. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to know when to help and when to let your children deal with disappointment.

Refuse to reward impatience.

Consequences are a tricky business. Even with an If/Then chart hanging clearly on the wall, there’s a nuance to certain situations that are often hard to navigate. Impatience is one of those sticky situations. Patience means waiting without complaining. If the kids cannot wait patiently, they shouldn’t receive the benefit. There are always exceptions (and once again, the Spirit will be our guide here) but for the most part, allowing kids to reap the reward when they’ve had a bad attitude will not teach them to wait with patience.

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3 Bible Stories to Teach Kids About Patience

Read these stories in full text or in the Laugh and Grow Bible for Kids.

Abraham and Sarah – Genesis 15-21 (Laugh and Grow Bible pg 48)

Joseph – Genesis 37-45 (Laugh and Grow Bible pg 54)

God’s Example of Patience  – Moses and the Israelites in Deuteronomy (Laugh and Grow Bible pg 90)

Use this post for talking points around these stories about patience.

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Our family recently welcomed a bunch of teeny-tiny caterpillars into our home. When they arrived, they were so small, I thought it was a joke. I actually wondered if most of them had died in transit. We read up on the process of growing caterpillars for our Butterfly Garden and started following their amazing metamorphosis. Within days these incredible creatures have grown into great, big bugs. The process has been slow and we’ve got a ways to go but we’re enjoying this exercise in waiting patiently for something exciting. I didn’t purposefully plan for the bugs to arrive right before our Fruit of the Spirit lesson on Patience. But God . . . He’s so good like that. The perfect lesson in patience!