Patience is a Virtue. If you are my age, or fall somewhere in my age “group”, you probably grew up hearing this phrase more than once, usually when you were complaining about something taking too long. Like, “Why does Blockbuster never have the movie I want to rent?”, or “How long before the library gets that new book I want back in stock?”. Today, if a movie we want to watch or a book we want to read takes too long to download to our phone, tablet or computer we might be prompted to remember that old saying. If your kids or grandkids display signs of impatience, we might consider reminding them that patience is a virtue. However, expect to get “the look”. You know the one. Kids today are growing up in a world where patience is no longer a virtue. And, while we all appreciate the convenience of instant movies and books, should we worry about the consequences of a generation that doesn’t practice patience?
Wondering where I am going with this? Back to the importance of teaching kids to write letters. (Stay with me on this one.) Not only does a letter provide a tangible, touchable “thing”, having kids write letters has many other benefits, including teaching patience. Instead of just texting grandma and hearing back from her in a matter of minutes, have them write a letter and then wait to hear from her. Maybe she’ll write back and let your child know how happy she was to receive a letter. How exciting it will be for your child to receive mail! Delayed gratification. Patience can be rewarding.
Aside from the obvious benefit that writing a letter will take your kids away from screens (of any kind), there are other benefits to your child as well. Writing a letter can help your child learn how to express gratitude. In today’s world we all should be striving to express more gratitude. Studies have shown it can increase our happiness levels, leading us to live satisfied lives. Expressing gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships (Harvard Health). Who wouldn’t want that for their child? Writing a simple thank you note can help to do all of that. Wow!
If your child doesn’t like to write and school writing assignments turn into nightmares, maybe writing a simple letter to someone will help them along. They may enjoy writing letters, and that may lead to less stress completing schoolwork. Having a hard time coming up with who they should write to? How about a letter to a cousin who may live in a different town? Instead of sending a message or text about something that happened give them a piece of paper, envelope and a stamp. Or, have them write a letter to a friend, maybe about how much they appreciate their friendship; gratitude. There it is again. And, of course, we probably all have family members who don’t “do” technology all that well. It’s especially important to keep in touch with them.
Writing letters not only benefits the person receiving the letter, it also benefits the sender. It’s important to start kids writing letters when they are young so that as they grow it will become a routine thing to do and the benefits will multiply. Even if they can’t write yet, a handprint and a few words written by you will suffice!