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The Patience Tank

Blog

The Patience Tank

Pierre Séguin

keeping-your-cool

Kids don't always have a great sense of how their behavior is making parents feel, and parents aren't always great at communicating their feelings before losing their cool. Drama can ensue.

One of the tricks we discovered with Leo to help him appreciate the effect of his behavior on the way we feel has been to refer to the level in our patience tank. It's pretty straightforward - if he's giving us hard time, well before we get upset, we tell him he's draining our patience tank. If he's behaving pleasantly, we tell him he's filling our patience tank.

The visual this puts into his mind helps him understand the relationship between his actions and the way we feel better than asking him, through gritted teeth, to start behaving please, like right now.

This week, I discovered an improved variant on the technique while we were working on Leo's homework (an exercise that typically draws heavily on our limited reserves of parental patience.)

After telling me for the eighth time about how little he cared about the difference between an isosceles and a scalene triangle, I got up, walked over to the whiteboard we have in our home office, and drew this:

patiencetank_full.jpg

Then, as he watched, I took the eraser and did this:

patience_tank_emptying.jpg

He clued in right away and focused intently on his aligning his protractor properly, so I did this:

patience_tank_refilled.jpg

"Hey," he said, "it's like a game!"

"Yeah," I agreed. And the rest of the math homework went smoothly with the occasional erasing and refilling of patience in the tank. We're going to keep doing this, I think.

Have you tried something similar? How did it work? Would you like to see something like this as a feature in Brili?