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Is Patience a Lost Virtue? Check out those waiting for elevators

A couple of days ago, I printed one out of a list of “ponderisms”…things that might make you wonder. I have another one today.
?       Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?  
I have to admit that if an elevator is very slow in arriving, I sometimes do that myself. Upon reflecting about it, I don’t think I conciously do it to tell the elevator to hurry up. More often I want to remind it  that I’m still here. I think I do it in the thought that maybe it didn’t get the message the first time or it has forgotten about me.

So many people whom I observe punching the button several times also often  pace and talk to the elevator in a stern voice saying, “Come on. Come on.” Like the elevator would obey them somehow.

In the thirty years I spent in education, I noticed, among many other things, that more children were lacking in their abilities to show patience. At first I thought it was just the recognition of Type A go go go personalities vs. the more laid back Type Bs. I thought you either had it or you didn’t. However, the numbers of children who exhibited impatience were increasing.

 Among those in the younger grades, more of them were having melt downs right in front of their parents and teachers. Too often, that behavior led more quickly to them obtaining what they wanted.

Did you know patience can actually be taught? I was not aware of that. Apparently the number of parents who know that is also decreasing.  Here is a list of suggestions from one web site.

More Ways to Teach Patience
Learning to wait and to take turns are important elements of learning patience. Try these skill-building strategies:

  • Model patience. “Your child is always learning from you, so be aware of the words and body language you use when you have to wait for something,” says Leiderman. Instead of acting anxious when you’re stuck in traffic, put in a relaxing CD, for example.
  • Use reflective listening. Young children don’t have to words to express what they’re feeling, but you can help verbalize those emotions. In the checkout line, you might say, “I know it’s hard to wait. This is taking a long time, but you’re doing a great job waiting.” Says Leiderman, “If you acknowledge your child’s struggle, he’ll naturally try harder.”
  • Keep expectations reasonable. Asking your preschooler to wait an hour for food is just too long. At a restaurant, ask your server to bring bread or crackers as soon as you sit down, and have a book or quiet game handy to keep your child occupied.
  • Help her develop strategies for waiting. When you must wait, help your child figure out what she can do to pass the time. Say, “What can we do while we’re waiting? Should we sing songs or read a book?”
  • Use a timer to help your child visualize the wait. If he is begging for a story, but you need time to finish what you’re doing, set an egg timer for 5 minutes and tell him that when the bell rings, you’ll read the book, suggests Lerner.
  • Consider preschool. “One of the real values of having your child in a program before kindergarten is that she learns waiting and self-control — two foundations of school readiness,” says Lerner. If your child hasn’t learned these skills by the time she starts school, her impatience may draw a negative response from the teacher and other students.

Now that last one about putting them in pre-school is not meant to give you permission to pass the problem along to the teachers. Parents still have to continue to do their part. 

According to Wikipedia, “Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.”

I think part of the problem for most of the “civilized” world is the fact that we have sped up the time it takes to get what we want. Think of the time savers we’ve grown accustomed to in the last 100 years. We have called it for several years, “Instant Gratification.”

The major time savers were in the field of transportation. Automobiles at first could go 10 -20 miles per hour. Now when people enter school zones they get impatient having a very long 20 mph stretch of road where they have to slow down to that speed. My mother, who was born in 1906, wrote in her memory book that as a  young woman she and her friends made it all the way from Peoria, IL to Joliet, IL, a distance of approximately 120 miles, in one day. It was amazing to her they had traveled that far. Now we expect to make it in under two hours.

As far as long travel, who would have thought how short a time it would have taken in the early 1950s for my mother to travel by plane to California to see her sister? When I was one, the whole family traveled in several days to get to California. She died in 1950 before she could ever travel by plane. With the advent of jets, the time was reduced to about three hours. That would be totally incomprehensible to her. She would refuse to believe I made it from Texas to Japan in thirteen hours.

In the realm of food, there are very few homes anymore that do not have a microwave. Children expect their food in minutes compared to hours.  The advent of the computer has sped up our ability (most of the time) to acquire answers to our questions. Compare that to the 1960s when in high school we had to travel to the library and use card catelogs.

The list goes on. Unfortunately, the more time we “save”, the more people develop impatience. Look at the increase in road rage in major cities.

In terms of religion, patience is one of the seven virtues that is extolled in all the major faiths. Perhaps it is time we turned back to our Holy Books and reexamined the idea of patience in our lives. Perhaps with saving “time” we have lost other more important aspects of our humanity. Perhaps we would be better off taking deep breaths and lowering our blood pressures before we stroke out. Think of that the next time you reach for the horn on your car or the elevator button. Namaste. Attic Annie

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