Learning to wait for good things is an important lesson we can teach our children, writes Julie Houghton.
Do you remember when you were small and good things seemed to take so long to happen?
Major happy events like Christmas, Easter and birthdays always seemed eons away, but there was something rather exciting about the anticipation of the big event—in fact, chocolate advent calendars have spawned an annual industry of helping us anticipate and count down the days until Christmas.
Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas, but it’s not just in the lead-up to Christmas that we experience a period of anticipation. While not as joyful as the approach of Christmas, the Christian season of Lent is also another time of waiting for Easter, when Christ was crucified on a Friday and rose from the dead two days later on Easter Sunday.
For children, the end point of a period of anticipation and waiting is the presents they discover under the tree on Christmas morning, or the Easter egg hunt that is a regular part of many Easter Sundays for families.
Learning how to enjoy anticipating events is something we need to let our children experience.
In an age where instant gratification seems the norm, if we allow our children to have whatever they want whenever they want, we are sending them the wrong message. How can they learn the important lesson that good things are worth waiting for if we let them have everything they desire just because they ask for it?
I recall that one of our sons was desperate for a super-duper toy truck with a crane so he could create marvellous constructions in his sandpit. Sure, we could have bought it for him, but as it wasn’t a cheap toy we decided it should be saved until his birthday was imminent, a couple of months away.
So we had weekly visits to the toy shop where he could see and dream about owning this marvel of technology, and tell us exactly what he was going to do with it. By the time we came to the birthday eve he could hardly sleep for excitement about what the morning would bring.
I will never forget the look of joy on his face when he unwrapped the prized toy, clutched it to his chest, and ran straight out to test it in the sandpit.
Had we given in to his desire to have it immediately, not only would it have been valued less, he also would have missed out on the fun of dreaming about it and looking forward to getting it on his special day.
Creating a period of anticipation for children to look forward to something special teaches them patience, and creates memories they will look back on fondly from the great distance of adulthood.