I got caught in the undertow at Point Pleasant last month and broke my toe. I actually, I broke my foot too, but saying that you broke your foot in the undertow doesn’t quite have the same ring.
Broken bones take time to heal — a lot of time.
Some days I notice progress—a little less pain when I walk or wiggle my toes. Mostly though, there are just long stretches of waking up to the realization that my foot hurts just as much as it did the day before. Those are the days I start to worry it might never heal. I imagine doctors scratching their heads, trying to figure out why there’s still pain, why the bone hasn’t fused. That’s when I feel my patience wearing thin. Or, more accurately, I don’t feel my patience at all.
Patience is a skill we are not born with. It must be acquired. We start at young age waiting for food when we’re hungry. As we get older we begin to trust that food will come, but we face more challenges: We have to wait for a play date, wait to say something when others are talking, wait to find out how we did on a test—or worse—wait to open a birthday present!
In reality, patience isn’t really about being able to wait. It’s about being able to keep a good attitude while you’re waiting. So, while I’m waiting, and waiting, and WAITING for my foot to heal, I’m working on my attitude.
Here are some things to try if your yogi needs help learning to keep a good attitude while she’s waiting? Try these tips and activities:
- Let her know it’s coming and, if possible, when: More than half of the anxiety that chases patience away comes from not knowing if we will ever get what we want or need. (Infants don’t know that their actually going to get food, so they scream.) If your yogi knows she WILL get that birthday gift and she WILL like it AND that she will get to open it at 6 o’clock, then she can relax a bit. Note: It’s better to set the event at a specific time than it is to set it for the end of an activity. If you tell your yogi she can open her gift after dinner, she’ll just be tempted to scarf down her food and rush everyone else at the table.
- Distraction, distraction, distraction: I asked my 10-year-old what the hardest thing about waiting is. He said it’s not being able to stop thinking about what he’s waiting for. Distraction can help with this. It might not sound like living in the moment, but it can be as long as you’re your yogi is aware of what he’s doing. It’s about being intentional. At some point, your yogi will get better at sitting with a difficult feeling, but at this young age it would likely do more harm than good. Ask your yogi to come up with some options for distracting himself. If he’s stumped, you can help him out. How about playing a card game, going for a bike ride, reading a book, talking about something altogether different, etc.?
- Practice: Intentionally give your yogi a reason to be patient so she can practice. If there’s something your yogi wants, have her save up for it. She can make a chart and come up with an anticipated time line. (This can double as a lesson in financial responsibility.) Or, tell your yogi you’ve got a surprise for her. Tell her it’s going to be a good surprise that she will like and tell her what time she will get the surprise. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just something your yogi will like. Throughout the day, help her with strategies for patience. Afterward you give her the surprise, you can discuss what it was like to wait, or you can just let the lesson stand alone.
- Play with patience: Have an ice cube race to make developing patience a game. All you need is the same number of ice cubes as there are players. Place one ice cube in front of each player then see whose ice cube melts first. Touching ice cubes is not allowed, but breathing on them is.
- Yoga, of course! Introducing your child to a regular yoga practice is an amazing way to help them develop patience! Linking movement with breath and learning mindfulness techniques can help with self regulation and impulse control that helps kids fend off the urge to incessantly ask about the object of their desire. Click here to sign up for fall classes!