Virtue of the Month: Patience

In his April 2010 message at general conference (titled “Continue in Patience”), Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared the following story about a Stanford professor:

“[He] began a modest experiment testing the willpower of four-year-old children. He placed before them a large marshmallow and then told them they could eat it right away or, if they waited for 15 minutes, they could have two marshmallows.

“He then left the children alone and watched what happened behind a two-way mirror. Some of the children ate the marshmallow immediately; some could wait only a few minutes before giving in to temptation. Only 30 percent were able to wait.

“It was a mildly interesting experiment, and the professor moved on to other areas of research, for, in his own words, ‘there are only so many things you can do with kids trying not to eat marshmallows.’ But as time went on, he kept track of the children and began to notice an interesting correlation: the children who could not wait struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems, while those who waited tended to be more positive and better motivated, have higher grades and incomes, and have healthier relationships.” (See a video of this message here.)

It’s remarkable that a skill such as resisting the temptation to eat a marshmallow could have such an impact on the children’s futures. This example demonstrates the extreme importance of learning to develop that skill—the ability to wait for something to happen in the future, or to have patience.

Amazingly enough, music lessons are one huge way to help children (and adults!) develop patience. Our students at the Utah Piano Conservatory have the chance to exercise that skill every day as they practice and work at their pieces. They develop the vision that the work they do every day will benefit them in the long run, even if they don’t realize it.

Consequently, it’s critical to help the students develop those habits of patience and hard work! We can help them celebrate their progress along the way and appreciate the way their hard work is paying off. This month, focus on giving your students encouraging words that will help them stick with it and get results!