Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tips on Teaching Patience/Week of the Young Child

For all of you who are attending my keynote at the Week of the Young Child event in Alexandria, Minnesota on April 15, I am posting some notes here from my presentation. Hopefully the snow will be on its way out by then! Sheesh!

I am speaking about the importance of patience skills for school readiness. Below are three primary temperaments of children (remember that children can cross over into more than one, so get to know them all), their characteristics, and how to work with each on patience skills...You can begin to incorporate these ideas around age 3.

High Activity Level
Slow to Adapt/Transition at times
Approaches New Things with Vigor
Intense, Sometimes Physical Reactions (Positive and Negative)
Low Persistence
Low Focus

Teaching Patience to Feisty Kids:
•Need Opportunity and Challenge
•Leadership Options ("little helpers/little mommies or daddies"
•Faster-Paced Activities & Games
•Work on Cooperative Play (pass the blocks; roll the ball; clean up time)
•Work on Etiquette (please and thank you)
•Burn off the Energy!
•Coping Strategies - breathing, touchstones like a smooth rock or soft toy, anger dance (silly physical dance to calm down), counting, self talk ("He didn't mean to bump into me.")

Empathy –
•Cooperative games (It's okay to lose.)
•Discussing feelings (After given some space to calm down)
•Problem solving (giving three options and allowing them to choose)
•Work on social cues…facial expressions, body language, hands to self, quiet voice, personal space
•Recognize that they need to burn off energy for focus

Mindfulness –
•They’re going to want to argue about what happened and why they are right. Instead...
•Rather than focusing on the past, ask what can be done now to solve it.
•Offer mindful coping for frustrations like breathing, counting, bringing them back into their bodies; touchstones; anger dance (shake it off physically and in a silly way; get them to lighten up)

Self-Leadership –
•Getting control of selves will be very important (allow time for that)
•Give space to cool off (so they don't hurt themselves or anyone else)
•Make lists to build a routine during play to reduce frustration with others (everyone gets to choose an activity to add)
•Helping skills
•Put them in charge of something each day (feeding pets, watering plants, bussing dishes, snack helper)
•Talk about language of a leader, please and thank you, calm voices

Slow to adapt in new situations
Physically sensitive
Distracted by other children; noise
Crave routine
Intense reactions if stressed or pushed

Teaching Patience to Fearful Kids:
•Need Time and Practice
•Build in Time for Decisions/Transitions
•Be Their Safe Harbor
•Work on Repetitive Activities
•Maintain Daily Routines; Prepare them if things are going to change.
•Provide Coping Strategies/Touchpoints
•Encourage Talking Out Problems

•I feel…
•Taking turns, respecting their personal space; practicing affection to gain a comfort level with others (shaking hands, high fives, holding hands to start)
•Respect fears; take them seriously to teach them to trust themselves; talk through fears; explain differences between fantasy and reality; dreams and awake time

Mindfulness- tend to think of what ifs…help them to focus on now and what’s happening now; are they safe now?

•Being in control of their emotional responses
•Relaxation exercises to calm anxieties (close eyes and think of a beautiful place or their favorite activity)
•Practice helping others; can take away focus on self
•Work with them on projects if they feel overwhelmed

Sunny Disposition
Regular Feeding, Napping
Fairly Persistent
Low Intensity/Low Sensitivity
Highly Adaptable

Teaching Patience to Flexible Kids:
•Need Acknowledgement
•Show Interest in Their Ideas/Play
•Promote Natural Cooperativeness
•Share Your Lap
•Praise Skills Specifically

•Naturally empathetic but can lose this if needs aren’t met
•They tend to be popular, so praise them for including others in play
•Watch for times when they hide emotions or use as attention devices; use as opportunity to talk through feelings and acknowledge them; explain why you have disciplined them

•If they are being silly or acting out, ask how they’re feeling right in that moment…happy, sad, angry, alone, excited?
•Working together; what can we do to make things better right now?
•Give choices to work out feelings

•Encourage helpfulness and cooperation…tend to get along well with others; provide opportunities for group play as well as solo play
•Like lots of people, so talk about the importance of including others who may feel left out
•Ask for help in solving problems; they will enjoy being included
•Work with them on projects to give them one-on-one time
•Keep it fun; allow practice before criticizing

Watch for more ideas for teaching patience in future posts. I'll include ideas for younger and older children. Thanks for your interest! And remember, you need to model patience to teach patience!


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