How Hard is It for Kids to Learn to Wait?

I’ve shared it here before that on the weekends, my family could be mistaken for a family of sloths. We’re slow moving and, well, just plain, ol’ lazy.

I like to have my tea, write, and spend time on the Internet doing whatever it is that I do.  My husband is quite similar.  We’re two peas in a pod in that way, but, as you can imagine, our habits can be rather boring for the kids.

Because of our lack of morning activity, we allow morning TV for our children or they must actually put their toys to good use and, in turn, leave us alone while they play.  The house gets messy, but our short amount of adult time makes up for that inconvenience.  

It makes all of us quite happy, really. 

But I’m starting to see a little problem.  It’s brewing with our youngest one. 

It's hard to teach the virtue of patience and self-discipline. It's a parenting challenge in today's world.

The 2-year-old is obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Minnie Mouse.

If Minnie Mouse and the Clubhouse gang are not on the small screen, then the diva will let us know that she’s not happy about the programming IMMEDIATELY.

Unfortunately, desperate for some peace, we’ve catered to some of her demands through the beauty of TV on demand.  

Her recent tantrums over TV programming got me thinking about the problem of instant gratification with kids today and how they expect things “right now.”

My children now live in a different world from when I grew up.  There have been many articles written about this very subject, and how it could impact their future economic and character traits.

On the flip side, I was a child who grew up in the N.C. mountains in the ’70s with a TV equipped with just an antenna.  We received three channels, and only one of them was clear to enjoy.

Yes, this was also the era of waiting for handwritten letters in the mail and waiting for people to answer their home phones. And get this: There was no way to leave a message if no one answered. 

Even popcorn had to be cooked on the stove.  Gasp! It took a whole hour to cook a Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pie. 

I had no choice but to learn about delayed gratification.  The only thing instant in my life was maple and brown-sugar oatmeal. 

But that is not the case today.

Recently, we had some issues with our TV DVR and the use of on-demand programming. We told Baby Diva that Mickey Mouse would be live on TV in eight minutes. She is probably too young to really understand, but those few minutes were complete torture for all of us.  She wanted instant gratification.  Her behavior was deplorable.  She acts the same way when she wants “down from the dinner table” before dinner is over.  She doesn’t want to wait until we are all finished.

Right now, my parental problems focus around teaching our children the virtue of patience, self-control, and self-discipline.

It’s not an easy task, but we’ve got to teach it. 

So far, I think we’ve mastered the concept of not buying our children everything “right now” fairly well. My husband runs a tight budget ship, so they have the necessities but few thrills. 

We’re about to embark on a short weekend to the N.C. mountains as a reward for my son, who worked hard in school this year.  To him, we aren’t going “just because,” but rather because he earned the trip through his good school behavior and for trying his best.

We’re also learning to let the Diva wait, no matter how unpleasant that task may be right now.  

And, eventually, I know she’ll be in bed for the night.  After all, good things come to those who wait.


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