Teaching Your Children to Wait Patiently



“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

As I was reading this verse about waiting on the Lord, I began thinking about how hard it is to wait on God. When we want answers from God, we want them now, don’t we? It’s really no different for children. When they want something, they don’t want to wait, no matter how old they are. Waiting on their parents to decide if they can do something is torture. A good deal of sibling conflict occurs over “waiting for your turn.”

Another word for “waiting” is “patience.” Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Patience is a virtue, but how well do we as parents demonstrate this virtue to our children? Do you show patience when you are driving in traffic, waiting to check out at the grocery store, when your husband is watching sports and you want him to do something for you? It is not easy to wait, especially in a culture that tells us to go, go, go.

Teaching your children the character quality of waiting (patience), will give them a better ability to wait on the Lord when they become adults. How do you teach your children to wait “patiently”? Your children need to see you be patient before they will decide it is important for them to be. As more is “caught than taught,” I encourage you to pick one area in your life that your children can see you becoming more patient in.

Let your kids know you are working on the area you choose. Let’s say you decide to be patient when you drive. The next time you are stuck in traffic and your children are in the car, tell them how hard it is to sit and wait for the traffic to get going again and how much you want to say something unkind to the other drivers. Let them know you are working on being patient and how hard that is for you at that moment.

If your children are in the older elementary school grades and above, teach them why we need to be patient, when we wait on God to answer our prayers. He knows exactly when the answer needs to come. It doesn’t matter when we want our prayers to be answered. All that matters is we need to trust God to know when it is the right time. It is also a good time to teach your children that just because you want something, doesn’t mean it is a “need” God will supply. Mom could share she wants new furniture, but does she need it? Dad can share he wants a brand new sports car, but does he need it?

God supplies all our needs, but He does not give us everything we want, no matter how hard we pray for it. Waiting for God to answer our prayers the way we want Him to is not wise. Waiting for God to answer our prayers the way He wants to, shows wisdom and maturity. This is what it means in the verses at the beginning of this post when they say to “Be still before the Lord” and to “Wait on the Lord.”  Most kids want people to think they are smart. God thinks your kids are smart when they are patient. (Proverbs 14:29)

We want our kids to wait patiently, but how do we train them to do this?

Recently a mom stopped by our home to drop a few things off and we ended up talking. Her three year old son was standing quietly through our conversation, holding his mom’s hand. After about ten minutes had gone by, he was understandably starting to show signs he was done waiting and was ready to go do something else. I told her what a great job she was doing teaching him to wait. She thanked me and they left. Would your preschooler have been able to wait this long?

We know this family well, and we knew this mom worked on training her children to be patient. She has taught them to wait quietly with their hands folded for their food to be served when they eat. When they have video time, these three young boys each sit on his own blanket and are not allowed to run around and play. This mom uses things that are a part of their day as opportunities to teach her children to wait and sit quietly.

Teach yourself to wait first! We all have areas we can work on when it comes to patience. Then work on teaching your kids the value of waiting, so they will one day understand what it means to wait on God.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)