When someone says something will take a long time, how long do you expect to wait? An hour? Two? Thirty minutes? Do you think the definition of “a long time” has changed through the years?

While writing my latest book, Screens and Teens, I discovered tea advertised to help the throat. Since my voice frequently gets tired and my throat can get sore from all the talking I do at conventions, especially, I decided to try it.

I was skeptical but trusted my friends’ recommendations. After purchasing my first box, I looked for the directions. I don’t drink a lot of tea so I wondered if a recommended length for steeping it would be mentioned. It was.

I read “ten minutes,” did a double take, and exclaimed to myself, You’re kidding! Ten whole minutes? Then I think I laughed.

If I think ten minutes is a long time, imagine how the “I want it now” generation might feel. Have you heard or participated in conversations like these?

“Dinner will be ready in ten minutes.”

“Why so long?”

(Does this sometimes trigger an argument, delaying dinner further?)

“We had to wait at the doctor’s office forever!”

“He was only running 15 minutes late.”

“Like I said. FOREVER.”

Waiting is hard for our “instant everything” generation. It’s also challenging because they’re not used to quiet and having to be in touch with their own thoughts.

Would you like to increase patience and contentment while your children have to wait?

  • Join me in remembering that ten minutes is not a long time and make sure to talk about and model this.
  • Be as prepared as possible so your children have to wait less when you call them to dinner, say it’s time to leave for the store, and the like. If we say we’re ready and then we’re not, frustration with us makes waiting especially challenging.
  • Connect with your children during waiting times. Resist the urge to pick up your phone to play a game or check Facebook. Talk and listen instead.
  • Use waiting times to engage with children in “games” like “I spy something blue” and “How many three syllable words can you think of that start with s?” Ask them how ideas go together. For instance, in what ways can you connect an architect and fruit? A grocery store and a birthday party? The library and obedience? Not only will discussions stimulated by questions like these cause time to go by more quickly, they can awaken genius qualities. These examples are relevant to at least creativity, imagination, flexible thinking, and curiosity. Some children who interact with us in these ways will learn to think in similar ways while waiting alone. Therefore, they may be more content.

Think more about waiting and your specific children. The use of technology can cause them (and us!) to want everything instantly. If their impatience is a continual problem and results in additional character concerns, they may need to take some breaks from it. Or the ideas above may help enough. You may want to give them the choice.

[callout]If you’d like to learn about the genius qualities, check out our book. Different from the ways children are smart, awakening all 12, involving them regularly when talking with and teaching our children, and helping our children use them well is also valuable.[/callout]