Character Chats

What Patience Looks Like

What patience looks like

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social-emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, the owner and chief instructor, here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education and we’ve developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students, who are 3 or 4, and our oldest student, who is 85.

This month, we are talking about patience. We started off the month defining it as waiting without getting upset. We talked about how it’s a skill that we need to practice and grow. We talked about the fact that everyone around us is showing us patience as much as we are showing them patience. It’s a skill that we are all engaging in all the time, and we don’t know what people are going through at any given moment of the day.

As we practice our patience, one of the things that we need to talk about is, what does it look like? When our kids are younger, it looks like very clear boundaries, very clear ideas. What do you mean? I would be on the phone or having a conversation with an adult. My kids knew that if they put their hand on their arm and then I put my hand over it, they were then respectfully and politely getting my attention without running up and interrupting, without running up and, “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.”

They could then practice their patience because they knew as soon as there was a break in the conversation, I would then ask them what was going on. What did they need? Now, they were able to wait without getting upset because they knew they were going to be heard. So, it’s those kinds of things where we need to demonstrate and teach those parameters and it looks different depending on the situation. Going to the doctor’s office or the dentist’s office, it’s teaching our kids to bring something with them.

“Do you have a book to read?” “Do you have something to color?” “Are you going to play on your phone?” “Do you have a game?” “What are we going to do to pass the time as we’re waiting to see the doctor?” Because it might be a short wait, it might be a long wait. They need to understand how to keep themselves busy. It’s the situations that you’re not quite prepared for, that then you teach them how to be creative.

Well, what do I mean? You’re at the store and the line is super long and you weren’t expecting it. You’re getting hungry, the kids are getting hungry. Whiney-ness, you can tell is about to ensue. So, what can we do to help teach them how to wait patiently? Count the food that’s in the carts, or what do you see that’s red? Play the I Spy game. Talk about what you’re going to do when you’re through the line, or divvy up jobs for later on, like you’re going to get all the vegetables and you’re going to get all the fruits and those types of things.

Things that are distracting can help them understand that waiting patiently could be giving yourself a distraction along the way and then as they get older, they’ve built some of these habits. They’ve built these skills, so that they can then wait patiently in high school, in college, as an adult going through life on a day-to-day basis. As we’re talking about this, we want to make sure that we’re teaching how to wait patiently, but we also need to teach when it is important to interrupt, when you want to not be patient whatsoever because it’s an emergency and you are needed right then and there.

Again, we set very clear parameters. If there’s blood, if there’s something broken, if things are going in the wrong direction, i.e. the toilet’s going in the wrong way, or you are suddenly very ill with the stomach flu, those kinds of things constitute an emergency and there’s no waiting patiently. There’s “I need help right now,” and teaching them how to respectfully interrupt and not send you into a panic as they’re running up going, “I need help,” is an important skill.

But using that as an idea of, it’s okay to interrupt here, it’s not okay to interrupt with this. Homework, not an interruption. The dog has gotten ill on the floor, that’s an interruption. So, teaching them the difference between the two helps them better understand when to wait patiently and when not to wait patiently. So, as we continue practicing our patience this month, next week, we’re going to talk about what happens when we lose our patience. What does that look like? How do we pull it back? What strategies can we implement, so that we can continue to practice our patience and be patient with the world around us?

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here. True Balance Karate is at 406 Ogden Ave Downers Grove Illinois, 60515 (next to CVS) Check out our Facebook!