With four children ranging from 6 to 16, one of my most popular sayings is "Honey, you'll just have to wait." But as you know, that's not something any child wants to hear. Instant gratification has become a hallmark of our culture.
Do you give your kids practice waiting? Or do you serve them quickly to avoid a meltdown? We must understand that the more we appease our kids, the more impatient and rude they'll be as adults.
Learning to wait is more important than we may realize. In a landmark Stanford University study, a group of 4-year-olds were each given a marshmallow. The kids were promised another one if they could wait for several minutes without eating the first one. Fourteen years later, as high school seniors, those who had quickly eaten the first marshmallow had lower self-esteem and were more prone to frustration, envy, and conflict. Those who had waited, were more socially competent, coped better with stress and frustration, and got better grades. In fact, those who waited scored an average of 210 points higher on their SATs.
The ability to wait teaches self-control and self-discipline. Kids who learn to wait are better able to think before they act and to understand the potential consequences of their actions. They learn respect and submission to authority. And learning to wait now will enable our children to "wait patiently for the Lord" as Scripture instructs in Psalm 27:14.
As you can see, teaching children to wait is about more than just waiting. Learning to wait also teaches patience, tolerance, delayed gratification, and the fact that other people besides them have needs and rights.1