Patience in Parenting

By Zig Ziglar

November 11, 2015 4 min read

If there is a genuine need to acquire a new talent, skill, or overcome an adversity, the effort we make will be much greater to do so. When we have the "gotta-do's" or "wanna-do's" big time, we uncover skills and abilities that otherwise would never see the light of day.

Anyone who has watched a baby contemplating taking his or her first step knows what a bad case of the "wanna-do's" looks like. Parents seem to instinctively know that their baby needs lots of encouragement to take that step. They know that when their toddler takes a misstep and ends up on his or her seat, it's just part of the process of acquiring the ability to walk. Parents also seem to understand that encouraging their baby, as he or she becomes a toddler and starts taking more steps and doing more things, is essential to the baby's development.

Then, something very sad happens: When the child reaches the age where he or she wants to "help" the parents, too many times the parents do not have the "time" for them to help. In their anxiety to finish the task at hand, they forget their most important task is to work themselves out of a job. In order to save time and "do it right," they discourage the child from helping, and do the job themselves. That's unfortunate, because they frequently miss out on a great educational/developmental opportunity, and an opportunity to grow closer to the child.

I clearly understand that we frequently do not have the "time" to stop and teach. But really, how much time would it take? Five minutes? Ten minutes? A little child has a very short attention span, and will quickly grow weary or bored with the process, and off he or she will go to something else. The five or 10 minutes that are invested teach children that they can depend on Mom and/or Dad. Thus, the personality of the child, the growth and development of the child, and the feeling of being loved and accepted grows. That's an important process in raising healthy, happy, well-adjusted children who one day will be out on their own.

The old saying, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly — until you can learn to do it well," is true, whether it's in a high-tech job with new equipment, or teaching a youngster the proper way to set a table. You name it, and we soon discover that our first efforts are seldom as effective as later ones. But our expectations of "instant everything" frequently serve as a damper for the unskilled or the young person to attempt to acquire that new skill or talent.

All of us, whether we realize it or not, are mentors in the truest sense of the word. We teach by example. We accomplish many things by simply persisting until we become skilled at it. The message for parents, educators, employers, trainers, speakers, coaches, and so on, is clear: Be patient with your children, proteges or the people you are teaching or mentoring. When you develop the skill of patience, and show your delight in teaching, your effectiveness as a parent, teacher or coach will increase significantly. After all, I'll bet the first class you taught, or the first team you coached, did not produce instant, dramatic success. Actually, the first child you reared probably presented challenges the second, third or fourth child did not. If your first child is old enough to express himself or herself and has younger siblings, I can almost promise you that you have heard or will shortly hear this statement: "That's not fair! When I was _____, you wouldn't let ME ... !" It's true that we learn from experience, and our first children are our first attempt at parenting. I like to think that overcoming the adversity of having new parents makes the first child stronger. Think about it.

To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at

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