Can You Teach Patience?

Posted: March 4, 2012 in kids, parenting, patience, storytelling

I picked up my godkids this weekend to hang out with them a bit and give their mom a much-needed break. I enjoy spending time with them because they absolutely crack me up. The boy is 9 and the girl is 5. They love coming over here because I have the Xbox 360 Kinect. They go non-stop on that thing and I wonder if sometime they’re on the verge of passing out from exhaustion.

Anyway, my godson wants to play a game called Hydro Thunder. It’s a super-speedboat racing game that isn’t extremely hard, but does require a few instructions to play. As the game started, I sat back and allowed him time to view the instructions, but he skipped past them. “Don’t you need to read the instructions to know what you’re doing?” I asked.

“No, I know how to play,” he replied which is code for “I don’t want to.”

So, I decided to do the “tough love” thing and I completely dominated him in the game. He seemed only a little bit frustrated, so we played again and I beat him even worse the second time. “You know,” I started, “if you read the instructions, you may do better.”

He didn’t respond as he hit the start button en route to his third straight butt-kicking at my hands. Finally, he decided to go back to the menu and read the instructions to see how he could improve his play. After he read the instructions, I rewarded him by allowing him to barely beat me. “Do you see how much better you played after you took time to read the instructions?” I asked.

“Yes, sir,” he responded never taking his eyes off the screen.

I allowed him to win a second game which brought a smile to his face. Did he learn a lesson? Only time will tell. I’m not sure if you patience is something you’re born with or not, but I’m doing what I can to instill it into my god kids. Things can turn out so much better when you take the time to learn how to maximize your abilities by reading. I wonder if kids are so impatient simply because everything in technology these days brings about instant gratification.

I always read the instructions before playing a video game when I was a kid, but then again, video games were a quarter when I was young. I knew that I would be foolish and quickly out of money to play without taking the time to learn the controls. So, maybe that’s where I developed some patience. Or, is it because I always saw my older brother buy something and read the instructions before he even bothered to take the product out of the box.

Can you teach patience or do you have to be born with it?

  1. I prefer the games that didn't come with a lot of instructions. Super Mario Brothers, Pac Man. You just go and figure it out.Kind of like life was a ways back. How did you learn to swim? Did you take weeks of lessons, or did you learn by the 'sink or swim' method?I believe patience can be taught, but I also believe some things are better when you figure it out yourself. I didn't have someone to teach me these lessons, and I feel much more confident in myself that I figured it out on my own.

  2. I remember reading the instructions first, because I liked to build up the anticipation of playing the game.Nowadays with games, it takes so long to install onto my PS3 before I can play that I have no choice but to read the instructions.I think that patience is a learned skill. But you have to want it, first.

  3. You can teach it but in a world where kids demand instant gratification its becoming increasingly more difficult to do! Kudos to you for the way you handled the situation though!

  4. Thank, Q says:

    I get that, but reading the instructions doesn't mean that you're not independent. I learned a lot of things on my own, but it came from being paying attention and learning and not just doing.

  5. Thank, Q says:

    I almost can't play today's games without first reading the instructions. There are nine buttons on an Xbox controller and three freakin' joysticks. Most games use each and every button, so sometimes you have to read! LOL!

  6. Thank, Q says:

    (takes a bow) I just hope it works 🙂

  7. Q. I wish we had been friends when my kids were young. I could have called you to come over and teach my kids stuff. With my ADHD, I ran out of patience right after teaching them how to play with a pacifier.And instructions- are you kidding me? I bought a Pong machine for the kids and almost pulled my hair out trying to teach myself to play.

  8. Alice X says:

    This is such a cool way to teach them patience. I must say though, i myself loath instructions, mostly because they're usually awful!

  9. Thank, Q says:

    LOL! Mooner, how many more stories would I have to tell had we grown up together? I would probably have a 2nd blog called "Mooner & Me."Pong came with instructions?

  10. Thank, Q says:

    I guess I'm in the minority when it comes to instructions!

  11. I grew up in a family where we were "allergic" to reading instructions. To this day – my dad and I will always attempt to put things together SANS reading instructions (it's almost a badge of honor to assemble something without looking at instructions, and damn near a SIN if you HAVE to resort to reading the instructions!). And in my family, there was always a theme that revolved around, "Pronto! Now! Hurry up! Move it! Faster!" So, I think I was actually taught "impatience" in my family. I had to learn patience on my own. Trying to teach patience skills to my hooligan is quite trying. I feel like a broken record saying, "Well…you don't always get what you want when you want it." The inability to delay gratification is an epidemic these days.

  12. Thank, Q says:

    Reck, I bet it's hard as ever to get a kid to understand patience on a day-to-day basis. That by itself takes tons of patience from the parent, for sure!My father was big on putting things together without instructions. In the end, the product would work, but never like it was supposed to. LOL! You would have to tweak something to get it to operate correctly.

  13. says:

    Born with it? Na, but it does take some kicks and bruises to learn that you better start reading it pretty quick. I can't count how many times my hard head didn't read the fine print and got stuck with something stupid. With some kids, there are some that easily adapt and those that are just "stuck on stupid". Either way, what you did with your Godson was priceless. I think he got the message real quick, because kids at that age hate to lose.

  14. Thank, Q says:

    I hope he got the message, Sonia. I was going to keep winning until he got the message. And if he would have quit, then he would have learned the lesson of "not being a quitter." LOL!

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