Children and Family Resources

Patience – Character Materials for Children

Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky


Contributed by Trudy Pettibone
Minister of Christian Education, Mt. Washington Baptist, Cincinnati, Ohio

July 25, 2001

Character Materials for Children


PATIENCE vs Restlessness

Accepting a difficult situation without giving a deadline to remove it.

I Will:

  • change the things I can change and accept the things I can’t;
  • keep trying until I succeed;
  • make the most of my spare time;
  • not interrupt;
  • not complain if I don’t get my way.

Following are some ideas of ways to encourage children in patience. Reading can be done by the child, if older, or can be done for the child. Activities should be done together and, as much as possible, should be full-family activities. Break the scriptural passages down into small segments to fill the entire week.

Week One: change the things I can change and accept the things I can’t.

Scripture: While Job seems to be anything but patient, he did have a good grasp of what could and could not be changed. Choose passages from the book which especially hilight his acceptance of his circumstances, such as Job 1:13-22; 6:10-13; 13:13-19; 42:1-6.

The key to accepting a problem is realizing that it is more productive to change the things you can change than to get angry about the things you can’t change.

Parents: Help children realize some of the things that are in their power to change. These may be things like habits (not keeping their rooms clean), preferences or inappropriate behavior. Help the child make a goal of deciding on one thing they can change, and help them plan the steps for change.

Instant gratification has become the hallmark of today’s living. Encourage the child to put off doing one thing each day that he or she might ordinarily do immediately. An example might be an afternoon snack. If the child usually eats as soon as they get home from school, help the child learn to do some other activities first, thus delaying the gratification of the snack. Be sure, however, not to allow the snack to be so delayed that it interferes with supper.

Week Two: keep trying until I succeed

Scripture: Peter is a good example of someone in scripture who just couldn’t seem to get things right. Try as he would, this “faith” thing just would not stick, until after he encountered the resurrected Christ and then experience Pentecost. Read about some of Peter’s attempts and his ultimate victory in Matt. 14:25-31; Matt. 16:15-23; Matt. 26:57-75; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 2:14-36.

Identify the things with which your child becomes most frustrated. Develop a plan for accomplishing each task. Pray with the child that he might accomplish each small part of larger tasks. Work with your child to do these things in small steps, thinking through each step. Praise the child when each step is accomplished without frustration. Plan a special celebration for the time that the task is fully completed without the child becoming impatient.

Week Three: make the most of my spare time;

Scripture: Joseph, the son of Jacob is a good example of one who seems to have made good use of his “spare” time. Read how Joseph patiently waited and used his time until God was ready to fulfill his purposes through him. Genesis 39:1-6, 21-23; Chapter 40; 41:9-36, 37-45.

Help your child determine exactly when his or her “spare time” occurs. Is it when not in school or doing homework? Is it when chores are done? Once the determination of spare time is made, watch for a period of time to see exactly how the child uses that time. Then, if necessary, list some alternative activities, such as reading, puzzles, journaling or listening to music, which will enrich the child and make this spare time more effective. As much as possible, encourage enriching activities that fit the child’s interests. Praise the child for effective use of the time.

Week Four: not interrupt;

There are really not any scripture references that specifically point out somebody not interrupting. There are displays of patience exercised in speaking, as in Judges 3:17-21, but this is not really a story you would share with children, unless they were very mature.

When children have something to say, it is very difficult to hold it in until a “proper” time. Help the child understand the benefits of not interrupting: (1) If you let others have their say, they should return the courtesy; (2) You can learn by listening rather than interrupting. Encourage the child to learn acceptable methods of getting an adult’s attention, while waiting patiently for the adult to give them their undivided attention.

Reward the child for waiting patiently for the opportunity to speak. Remember, when a child does not interrupt, that child deserves your undivided attention as soon as you are able to give it.

Week Four cont. (And week Five if necessary): not complain if I don’t get my way.

Imagine how disappointed Caleb (and Joshua) must have been when they returned with their report of the promised land, and were overruled by 10 other people. But they did not complain, as the rest of the people were doing. Read Numbers 13:30-33 and 14:1-10. Tell the child that “tearing ones clothes” (14:6) is a sign of sorrow and mourning, not of complaining.

If the child complains a lot, try to tape record everything the child says for one day. Play this back to the child, and help him think of a better way to respond in each situation.

Sometimes complaints come without our thinking about them. Establish a way to let your child know when he or she is beginning to complain. Reward the child when the complaint is changed to a positive statement. Variation: If you are aware that you complain a lot, establish a signal for the child to let you know that you are beginning to complain.

Activities for Patience in General

Always share personal experiences with your children of when you were successful-and unsuccessful-in exercising patience.
Read the story of George Washington Carver, and how he was patient in very trying circumstances. (See, for example, PATIENCE, Character First! Education Series 2, Booklet 2. For contact information, see Bibliography, also under this “Other Resources” icon.)

With your child, list ways of making use of time spent standing in line or waiting for turns. Don’t be afraid to be silly, but be sure that none of the ideas can offend or hurt other people.

Plant some seeds with your child, and teach your child how to nurture and care for a plant that will seem to him or her to be forever in developing. If possible, let the seeds (or root) be something that will produce fruit.

Craft: Patience Placemats (taken from Character First! Education Series 2, Booklet 2). Supplies: 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper; colored paper; templates for differently-shaped keys; glue; scissors and clear plastic Contac. Give each child a sheet of paper (placemat). Using the key templates, let the children trace several keys on different colored paper. Then let them think of ways they personally need to practice patience and write them on the keys. After cutting out the keys, glue them to the placemats. If extra room is needed, glue some keys to the back for a “reversible” place mat. When complete, laminate the placemats with the Contac and put them some place where the child will be reminded of the need to be patient.


This object lesson fits a classroom situation best.
Materials: Bible with 2 Peter 3:9 marked; a bowl or bucket filled with many cups of beans or dry cereal; one empty bowl or bucket which holds as much as the first; a teaspoon per child.

Present Object Talk: Have the filled bucket on one side of room and empty bucket on the other. Give one volunteer the teaspoon. Ask: How long do you think it will take to move all these beans to the empty container, one spoonful at a time? If time is limited, give all volunteers a spoon to help at once or to do the job in relay form. During the activity, ask the children how this job makes them feel. Make comments like: This is a big job. If we were not patient, we would probably just give up. If we keep going, the job will get done. If one child wants to quit, allow another child to help, but encourage the first child to continue and have patience. Say: Sometimes I think we try God’s patience. I am glad to know He doesn’t set time limits for us and then give up on us. Read 2 Peter 3:9. God is so good. He will never run out of patience with us. God is willing to give us as much time as we need to make sure that we have every opportunity to turn to him.



Have some active games – Perhaps the Object Lesson above

Song: In His Time

Scripture: NIV Joshua 6:1 – 5

Wiggle Time: Tumbling Down:

Have children form two unevenly-numbered groups.Have the smaller group form a circle, holding hands and facing inward. Have the larger group form a circle around the smaller group, facing inward. Tell kids in the middle that they are living in Jericho and having a good time. Tell them to hold hands and skip around the circle. Tell them that when they hear the children in the outside circle make trumpet sounds, they have to fall down. Meanwhile, have kids in the larger circle march around the smaller circle. When they’ve gone around seven times, have them pretend they’re playing trumpets-with full sound effects-causing the children in the smaller circle to fall down like the walls of Jericho. Repeat several times giving the children opportunity to be both walls and trumpeters. Then say: Lets all march back to our seats to learn about how the walls of Jericho really fell down. From Fidget Busters, Group Publishers.

Listening Song: Jericho: The Shout of Victory (This is a cut on the Carman Heart of a Champion CD)


With great exaggeration and action, tell the story of Joshua, the Israelites and the walls of Jericho. Emphasize all the factors that might have caused impatience: marching around once each day; all the people; the heat; the inability to talk (6:10); the disbelief; marching 7 times in one day. Have the children follow you around for the final seven circles (you might want to put Jericho in another room). Finally, with a great flourish and lots of noise (have the children make all the appropriate trumpet sounds and then the shout), have all the “walls” fall down. Talk about how it might have seemed like nothing was going to happen, but God knew all along what he was going to do. It was just a matter of patiently doing what He wanted the people to do. (Be warned: the children probably would have seen the Veggie Tales Josh and the Big Wall, so they will have some variations on the theme).


Thank God that even though it is hard to wait, we can always know that He will do the things he has promised.



This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.