Nurturing Patience In Children During The Holidays
Dr. Kristi Smith, D.Ed., M.Ed.   •   December 12, 2023

As the holiday season unfolds with its dazzling lights, festive decorations, and the promise of joyous gatherings, it also brings with it a sense of anticipation that can be challenging for young children to navigate. From the excitement of counting down the days until the much-awaited celebrations to the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, fostering patience in our little ones becomes a valuable gift. We believe that young children can be taught patience, so much that we have made it our Character Value for December and have incorporated many lessons involving patience into our proprietary curriculums for the preschool and school-age children at our early learning schools.

Because Children’s Lighthouse Early Learning Schools are committed to partnering with the families in our communities, we want to  share the holiday “love” and help you in nurturing the character value of patience in your children. Here's a guide on helping young children be patient during the holidays, creating a harmonious home atmosphere for both the young and the young-at-heart.

Set Realistic Expectations: The holiday season often comes with a flurry of activities, from decorating the house to attending gatherings and waiting for special treats. Helping children understand the timeline of events and managing their expectations can be a key to instilling patience. Create a visual calendar or countdown that allows them to see when each special event will occur, making it easier for them to grasp the concept of time.

Engage in Mindful Practices: In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it's crucial to carve out moments of calm. Introduce mindfulness practices tailored for children, such as deep breathing exercises or short guided meditations. These activities not only help children develop patience but also provide them with tools to manage their emotions during moments of excitement or frustration.

Involve Them in Preparations: Instead of viewing holiday preparations as a time-consuming task, transform them into bonding experiences with your children. Whether it's baking cookies, wrapping presents, or decorating the tree, involving children in these activities not only builds their excitement for the holidays but also encourages patience as they wait for the culmination of their efforts.

Teach Delayed Gratification: The holiday season often revolves around the exchange of gifts. Use this as an opportunity to teach children the concept of delayed gratification. Instead of having them open all their presents at once, encourage them to wait patiently, savoring the anticipation of each unwrapping. This practice not only instills patience but also enhances the joy of the gift-giving experience.

Create Rituals of Anticipation: Establishing rituals can transform waiting into a delightful experience. Whether it's opening a special holiday-themed book each night or having a designated day for a favorite holiday movie, these rituals become markers in the journey towards the main event. The anticipation that builds around these rituals teaches children the art of patience in a fun and memorable way.

Model Patience: Children learn by example, and parents or caregivers serve as their primary role models. Demonstrate patience in your own actions and reactions. If things don't go as planned or if there's a delay, use these moments as opportunities to showcase calmness and resilience. Your child will pick up on these cues, learning that patience is a valuable skill in navigating life's twists and turns.

Celebrate Small Victories: Acknowledge and celebrate moments when your child displays patience. Whether it's waiting in line at the store or holding off on opening a present, recognizing their efforts reinforces the importance of patience. Positive reinforcement helps children understand that patience is a virtue worth cultivating.

The holiday season provides a unique opportunity to instill the gift of patience in young hearts. By setting realistic expectations, engaging in mindful practices, involving children in preparations, teaching delayed gratification, creating rituals of anticipation, modeling patience, and celebrating small victories, we can guide our little ones through the holiday rush with grace and resilience. In doing so, we not only create more harmonious celebrations but also equip them with a valuable life skill that will serve them well beyond the festive season.

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