Patience: this month's life skill | American Family Martial Arts

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Patience: this month’s life skill

Every month during our karate classes at American Family Martial Arts, we focus on a life skill. This month’s life skill is patience.


Definition: The ability to endure waiting or delay without becoming annoyed or upset, to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties; the ability to tolerate being hurt, provoked, or annoyed without complaint or loss of temper.”


It is difficult to categorize at what age children will learn patience.  In order to learn patience, one must learn how to deal with disappointment.  If people give in to every demand of a child, than that child will never learn how to wait for what they want.  This can be a difficult cycle to break, but it is possible if you understand this fact; as well as some ways to better teach patience.

 One of the things to understand is stages of development for different age groups.

  • With children ages 3 and 4; they are very impulsive and will want to be first during every activity. It is our role as instructors or parents to help them understand the importance of waiting their turn.
  • With children ages 5 and 6; they are impulsive and will blurt out an answer to a question without raising their hand and waiting for the teacher to call on them. It our role as instructors or parents to teach them how to wait for proper directions.
  • With children ages 7 to 9; they are at the age where instructors and parents teach them patience during difficult times, such as dealing with bullies.
  • With children ages 10 and up; now is a great time to teach them how to have patience as it relates to perseverance and endurance required to accomplish large goals.

RELATED ARTICLE: Age Specific Martial Arts

Remember, some children will demonstrate great patience at an early age. This is the nature of the individual child and does not mean that every other child will be the exact same without some direction. Do not compare the patience of one child to that of the others, because it may frustrate the children that are naturally impulsive.

How does American Family Martial Arts incorporate this life skill into our classes? After a warm up, the students are seated for a mat chat and the instructor goes over the life skill for that class.

For our Tiny Tigers program: ages 3 & 4, it goes something like this

Are you showing patience if:

  1. You cry if you don’t get to go first in a game?
  2. If you let someone go before you?
  3. You cut in line?
  4. You let other people get in front of you?
  5. You get angry because the movie is taking too long?
  6. You do your best to sit quietly until the movie is over?

Finishing the mat chat: “I want everyone to practice patience this week. For example: when you have dinner wait until everyone is sitting down before you eat. Also practice patience by letting someone else go first during a game. This will show your friends and family that you care about them!”

At this age, instructors are showing and teaching children how important it is to wait their turn. This develops their “patience muscle.”

For our Little Ninja program: ages 5 & 6: it goes something like this:

Let’s Play a Quiz Game

  1. Who can tell me one type of dinosaur that once roamed the Earth?
  2. Who can name an animal that lives in the jungle?
  3. Who can name a type of fish that lives in the sea?

Some of the students will blurt out the answers because they do not have the patience to wait until called upon, point out to those students that they are NOT being patient. 

Finishing the mat chat: “I want everyone to practice patience this week. For example: if one of your family members is talking on the phone, patiently wait until they are off the phone before you speak to them. At school, make sure you raise your hand to answer questions and do not speak out of turn. This will show your friends and family that you are strong enough to have patience.”

This mat chat builds on the “patience muscle” by reinforcing by waiting to be called on, they demonstrate patience.

RELATED ARTICLE: SHARING: this month’s life skill 

For our Core Program: ages 7-9, a typical mat chat looks like this:

“Let’s try a quick game to help you practice being patient with bullies:”

Explain to the children that bullies are only successful with people that are impatient. If you have patience, then the bully will not win. If you are impatient, and lose your temper, then the bully wins.

Teach the students how to have patience with bullies by giving them a great response to bullies comments. For example, tell them to pretend there is a “window” between you and a bully and you can only see the bully, but you can’t hear him (her).

Pick one student to stand up. Call the student a very silly name, or say something silly about their hair. The student will demonstrate patience by saying “window” and holding their hand by their ear each time the bully tries to make an insulting comment.

Finishing the mat chat: “I want everyone to practice patience this week. For example: if someone tries to test your patience by calling you a name or making a rude face, remember what we practiced. By demonstrating patience when others try to annoy you, you are showing them that you are strong. This includes your siblings!”

For this age group of 7-9, bullying is a common issue. In our classes, we work on the life skills needed to overcome bullies. One of those skills is patience or not losing your temper because someone said something mean or silly to you.

RELATED ARTICLE: Six Tips to Deal with a Bully

For our Extreme Program: ages 10-14, a mat chat would go like this:

“Let’s try a quiz to see if you have patience:” Questions:

  1. You have a five-page book report that is due in a month. Which example below best describes you, and is that example the best form of patience?
  2. You set goals to accomplish by reading the book the first week, writing a rough draft the second week, re-writing the draft the third week, and then editing and perfecting the report the week it is due.
  3. You wait until the last week to read the book and write the report. (This may seem like patience because you are waiting, but in fact it is the exact opposite because you are missing out on valuable time to re-work your report so that it is the best it can be.)
  4. You have a big belt testing coming up next month. Which example below best describes you, and is that example the best form of patience?
  5. You make a list of the areas you need to practice most and then you practice on them first. You ask questions and arrange for additional training on the areas that you do not fully understand. As testing gets closer, you run through everything over and over again so that you perfect your knowledge and skills.
  6. You wait and practice the day of testing so that everything is fresh in your head. (This may seem like patience because you wait until the last-minute to practice, but in fact it is the exact opposite because you are missing out on valuable time to perfect your knowledge and skills.) 

Finishing the mat chat: “I want everyone to practice patience this week. For example: plant a tree at home; start a savings account; or buy a book with a lot of chapters to read. As you progress, you will build even more patience which is a very important characteristic to have.”

By the early teenage years, American Family Martial Arts, hopes our students have been working on their patience muscle. At this age of 10-14, that is reinforcing their perseverance and learning to plan in advance and not wait until the last minute for things.

RELATED ARTICLES: How Karate Builds Character in Young Adults
Benefits of Martial Arts for Teens








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