“Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you’re waiting.”
Teaching the virtue of patience to a child can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Then throw in a slew of family activities, crowded malls, and gift exchanges, and everything can feel a bit chaotic. The holidays can be overwhelming for all children, but for children with special needs, exercising patience can be that much harder.
Here are some ways you can adapt and design to help your child practice patience even in the midst of stressful situations:
- Start Small – Patience is a skill. And like all skills, it must be learned and practiced. Impatience in children often stems from a place of insecurity that the thing they want isn’t coming. But, if we can find small opportunities to delay gratification for a short time while at the same time providing reassurance, it can help to reinforce their waiting skills and they will learn that the reward will come eventually if they are patient.
- Timers & Calendars – Timers and calendars have proven to be quite helpful, particularly for children with autism. This could be a sand timer, a countdown app on your phone (there are several geared specifically towards children), or simply a wall calendar. Each of these devices can track the passage of time and allow children to see how long they need to wait. qSince many children do not yet understand the concept of time, these tools can help them to make sense of it visually.
- Choice Boards – As stated above, often times, children with special needs respond better to information communicated visually vs. verbally. But sometimes you might not know exactly when you can provide something your child requests. This uncertainty can trigger negative behavior so one idea is a “choice/no choice board.” This visual tool can highlight which activities or “choices” are available right now, and which are not. This can help make it easier for children to understand what alternative options are available if the one they want is not.
- Be an Example – One of the best ways to teach any child patience is by modeling patience ourselves. We need to practice what we preach not only in general, but within this teaching process. Grant yourself some grace in knowing that cultivating patience can be a lifelong process, not only for your child, but also for you.
When these strategies are leveraged, they can really help your child strengthen their patience skills. Many children who have autism tend to do best with structure and predictability, so if you practice these consistently, you will both be set up for success.
Interested in hearing more about how to successfully adapt and design environments for your child’s or student’s developmental progress? If you need support in getting started, Pieces of Inspiration is offering a one-of-a-kind course and sharing weekly strategies on the blog, guidance on YouTube and through weekly newsletters! They also offer FREE downloadable resources created by experts in the field!
Visit Pieces and subscribe to our email list to receive weekly support, meaningful resources, educational input, inspiration and so much more!