Children need patience to succeed in school and fulfill their goals. This is why children who have patience also tend to be successful as adults. So how can parents help their children develop self-control and be more patient?
Research has proved that during the early years a child’s sense of self-control is more important than his/her knowledge. This research is based on the experiment called “The Marshmallow Experiment”.
In this experimeneat, a marshmallow is put in front of each 4 year old. The experiment leader lets each child know that if the child waits for the leader to get back in the room before eating the marshmallow, he/she will get another marshmallow. If he/she doesn’t wait then he will not get another marshmallow. The children do not know how long they will have to wait. While waiting, some of them play with the marshmallow or plate and others try to find other things in the room to keep them busy. Although the waiting period is only about 15 minutes, only 23% of the children could wait for the leader to get back to eat the marshmallow. About 70% of the children were unable to wait.
Going back to the children who showed patience during the experiment when they got older, the researcher found that they scored on average 210 points higher on US university entrance exams than the children who could not wait to eat the marshmallows. Children who were unable to wait at all during the experiment tend to have more bad behavior as children and adults. Children who showed self-control when they were young tend to show self-control as adults as well.
How can parents encourage their children to be patient and have self-control? If they ask their child to sit and read a book for 30 minutes all of a sudden it will be difficult for them to sit still for an extended period of time if they are not used to it.
The best way to encourage self-control at home is through discipline. Discipline surrounding everyday life, such as picking up toys and paying attention to the bath time and sleep time schedule are easy rules for children to follow.
Start out by telling your child that he/she has to follow the rules and cannot always do what he/she wants.
Once your child enters elementary school parents should add rules about studying and afterschool activities.
Children want to continue to do fun things and avoid tasks that they find boring or annoying. Therefore, it is important for parents and teachers to let them experience having to stop fun activities to do tasks that they do not like or find annoying.
However, using too much discipline and preventing your child from moving freely may have the opposite effect. It is a good idea to attend early learning centers with your child so he/she can gain social skills.
One more important task is for parents to tolerate their children’s mistakes.
Children do not know what they can do by themselves if they do not try new tasks and challenge themselves. However, challenges often come with mistakes. Parents should not get angry when their child makes a mistake but should instead encourage their child to recognize their mistakes and help prevent them from making the same mistake again.
Tolerance is the same as coddling but it is important that parents tolerate their child’s mistakes and not their selfishness.
It is hard to gain self-control once you are an adult. So it is important that parents encourage their children to gain self-control and patience from when they are young.