If you are a parent, then you are most likely familiar with how difficult it can be to remain patient in trying times. Sometimes our children encounter the natural struggles that come with life, so we should aim to do our best to offer our greatest selves to them, as support systems and guides. Below are five tips to become a more patient parent.
1. It’s all about perspective.
In those unfortunate, yet human, instances when we lose patience with our kiddos, we have to become more self-aware, take a step back and empathize with them. In the moment, recognize and embrace your impatience. Try to understand what about this moment affected you; perhaps you’re exhausted, hungry, busy, or just not in the right headspace. Label your emotions, as well as your child’s and open up a conversation. Involve them in discussing the situation at hand, rather than making it a one-sided talk. Be your child’s guide, instead of solely their persecutor. Talking with your child, as opposed to talking at them, displays inclusivity and models appropriate verbal problem-solving skills. The main goal here is to put yourself in your child’s shoes and create teachable moments. Not only will your increased awareness teach you more about yourself, but you’ll also be setting an example for your little one.
2. Don’t take it personally.
We can’t expect kids to deal with what life throws at them like adults do. It takes a good chunk of our lifetimes of practice and experience before we have the emotional intelligence to cope. Observe your child with intention and uncover their triggers. Planning ahead with those in mind can save you both a lot of trouble. Giving verbal cues and talking things out can make a world of difference in preventing misunderstandings and meltdowns. However, no matter how much we work on articulating our feelings and avoiding patience testing times, they’ll still come up here and there. Just know that your children are responding to life as it comes to them and are doing their best. They aren’t acting out to punish you or push your buttons—there are underlying reasons. Do your best by keeping their perspective in mind and try not to take it personally.
3. Be a role model.
When you’re empathizing with your child, notice how you typically react and how that might affect them. While reflecting on your actions and behavior patterns, ask yourself if that is how you would want your child to react if they were in a similar position with someone else. Kids’ minds are like tiny sponges, so checking in on what you’re modeling, for them is vital. Be a role model by being respectful, understanding, and communicative.
4. Prioritize self-care.
What they say is true—you can’t take care of someone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. As parents, we often feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. I can relate to this, believe me. I am willing to lose a bit of sleep to sub in a bubble bath, a walk around the neighborhood, or a few chapters of a book. Though I think getting extra sleep is an excellent form of self-care, I also believe that knowing yourself and what you need will make a huge difference in how you respond to your life. When I feel like I’ve had a small piece of time to be my own person, I find that I am a significantly more patient mother to my son. Find these little moments and make time for you. Leave those dirty dishes and unwashed laundry for tomorrow. Your kids aren’t going to look back and remember your “lived in” house; they’ll look back at how you interacted, as a family. When you’re losing your patience, give yourself permission to take a time out. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be able to take care of them even better. Now, that’s what they’ll remember.
5. Build your own support system.
The best way to be a support system for your child is to have your own support system. All parents deal with their own struggles, but many overlap and are relatable to another. Being a parent in the hard times can feel very stressful and alone. When we share what we’re going through with other parents, we hear their stories and can gain perspective and get our own issues off of our chests. Other parents can give us ideas on how to handle situations that we’re feeling unsure about and we can share our own insights with them. Building your own support system will give you perspective and help you feel less alone.
Being a parent is hard and being a patient parent is even harder. By implementing these five tips, you will have a deeper understanding of how to be more patient with your children. We can all use these tips to be better versions of ourselves for our kids and model to them what patience, compassion and unconditional love look like.