Patience: teaching children

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All of us appreciate it when other show us patience when we are struggling with our schedule or learning something new.  We know how frustrated we feel and all the reasons why we cannot accomplish what we wish and we are thankful when others put up with our circumstances even if it inconviences them for a small period of time.

Patience many times is another facet of empathy, putting ourselves in the shoes of another.  Teaching our children about patience can begin with taking turns playing a game, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting to speak to an adult, or even if we must wait for an older person or disabled person to complete a task.

Helping our children to understand that “waiting without complaining” is what we do when we are showing patience, and that this is a great character trait.  Not showing patience can make the other person feel in the way, not important, or as if they are not being treated fairly.  While patience can be a challenge for us in our busy lives, it can also have great rewards, especially in having faith in ourselves and our ability to wait for something we really want or do.

Focus: reaching our goals

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There are no parts of life that focus is not needed.  It does not matter if we are playing a game or doing the specialized work of a doctor or scientist.  But in fact many of us have problems focusing on the task at hand as we think about all the other things going on in our lives.  

I would like to think for a few minutes about the things that really need our focus.  For each of us those things may be different, but I would think that it is possible that many of them may be the same.  Who would not say that focusing on our family and health are two of the most important.  Yet for many children today the average amount of time their parents spend with them alone without interruption from media and other distractions may only be 8 minutes per week.  

Our health is another area that we could all agree needs our focus.  Yet our eating habits and workout schedule may be pushed to the side due to us focusing on other matters.  So many times I have parents tell me how healthy they and their children eat, yet both parent and child are not at a healthy weight.  So what is it that you want to focus on?   What are the most important things in your life?  

One of the things that will help us focus on our ‘most important’ things is by setting goals.  With a goal that is specific and with a completion date our mind can focus to reach that goal.  General goals do not help us focus.  Specific goals however concentrate our energy on the stated goal.  

Goal setting, focus and commitment to them is something I work on all the time.  In fact I invite you to join with me in that regard.  I believe that having ‘teammates’ is an important part of keeping our focus and reaching our goals and holding us accountable.  I am here and ready to do that with anyone that wants the support.  Of course it will be a two way thing, as in any team, both of us will benefit. 

Empathy: predicting feelings

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While it is important to figure out by looking at someone or a situation what someone is feeling, it is just as important to predict how someone may feel if you speak or if you act in a certain way.  When we are able to predict how someone may feel given a set of circumstances, we can gauge how and what we may say or do.  

This is an important social skill that we can teach our children by playing a game with them or by just simple conversation.  We may ask them, “Lauren just moved and will be going to a new school tomorrow. How do you think she will feel?”   We can make up other scenarios that may be applicable to our own children that would be good for them to consider the feelings of others.

When we take children out of the scenario, their own emotions about the situation do not get involved and they can express clearly what may happen.  When the time is appropriate you can compare it to a situation that they are in and it will be easier for them to understand how they may respond with more empathy.

When we are in the middle of a situation, especially if there are emotions involved, it can be very difficult to be empathetic.  Practicing predicting the feelings of others can be helpful for all of us, child or adult.