“You teach preschoolers?? Oh you must be soooo patient!”
“You have four kids? Oh you must be soooo patient!”
Actually, patience doesn’t come easily to me. I was not born with an innate ability to be calm and understanding, to wait, or to stop and think things through. And yes, they are right, working with kids, whether your own or someone elses, takes lots of patience. Luckily patience isn’t something you either have or you don’t, it is something you can learn and get better at. Right now I think I need to work on it a little… ok a lot!
So I’ve been thinking about ways I can be a more patient parent…
Know The Triggers and Plan For Them
I often loose my mind at about 6pm, somewhere in between bath and dinner. Maybe for you it is morning rush that sees any semblance of patience fly out the window? Or perhaps it is four kids waiting at the Dr’s? Figure out the times or situations when you struggle the most, or when you need the most patience, and plan for them.
I always cope much better with the bath/dinner/bed rush when I have at least pre-planned dinner, or even better pre-cooked it. Waiting goes better for all of us if I bring things for my kids to do and especially eat. And just knowing when things are likely to be difficult seems to help me find some extra patience.
The same goes for certain behaviours. If there is something your kids do that drives you insane, spend some time thinking about why that behaviour bothers you so much, how you can change it long term and how you can react with more patience in the short term. I try to use my ‘positive first response‘ tip to help buy me a little time and patience when one of my kids is pushing my buttons.
It’s hard to be patient when you are all doom and gloom. When something goes wrong, or takes longer than expected if I get frustrated and can only think of how terrible it all is, my patience disappears. If, on the other hand, I can find something positive in even the most annoying situations, that little glimmer of hope helps me be more patient and understanding. I also think this is a really important skill to teach our kids, finding something good in what seems to be all bad and the positives that come from that.
Be Less Busy
When I am busy I get stressed. When I am stressed I lose all patience.
This year one of my goals is to be less busy and more calm. Sometimes that means saying no to things I’d kinda like to do, sometimes it means putting in some hard yards preparing or planning in advance, and sometimes it just means literally, physical, slowing down. I am not finding it easy but when I do manage it I find I am much more patient than usual
I am not a fan of ‘time out’ as a behaviour strategy for kids, but I am a fan for me. When I recognise that I am feeling impatient and frustrated if I can just stop for a moment, if I can step out of the situation, physically or even just emotionally, it can help me find more patience. Even just closing my eyes for a moment, or going outside, or the trite ‘counting to ten’ actually helps.
Let it Go
Sometimes patience is about accepting that things won’t go to plan. It is about letting go of perfection and looking at the big picture. Free Range in Suburbia’s 80/20 rule explains this perfectly. If your child only ate one grain of rice and two peas for dinner, don’t worry…. breathe…. they will eat more tomorrow. If you messed up today… let it go… there is always another day tomorrow to do better.
How do you conjure up more patience when you need it?
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Great advice , my patience is very thin during arsenic hours of 4.30-7.30
My patience is thin between about 6:30am and 8pm.
I find encouraging my kids to express their feelings really helps me find more patience. For some reason even the most annoying behaviour becomes less annoying when my kids can explain why they do it. Even when it’s obvious and even when I already know why. E.g. When my 6 year old forgets his hat/water bottle/lunch box for the 8 millionth time as we are leaving for school, I find it incredibly irritating. But when I asked him how he feels when we are getting ready for school he said ‘I’m always so excited and I have so many things in my head that I want to do with my friends when I get there that I forget about the things I have to remember at home’. Suddenly I felt much more understanding – even though the behaviour didn’t change. Also, my 3 year old told me when I was getting impatient with him for taking about half an hour to put a shoe on ‘I’m still only little you know. I’m actually the littlest in this family and I’m still learning how to do things these days so it takes me longer’! So true – but hilarious hearing it from his mouth, it totally took away my impatience!
Rachel T says
Great ideas. Around 2.30-3.00 were our troubling times, and I realised that my children (they’re 3 and 1) and I all needed some down time around then, to just relax. So that is now when we have a little sit down and watch some TV or do a quiet activity like reading. But generally we all just need to veg out and breathe!
A thought provoking post Kate…i struggle with patience at the moment and it was a hard task when working with kids too…i tended to let it all out at home because i had to hold it all in during the day! At the moment lunch and dinner times are my danger periods as i get frustrated with all the sensory needs we have with eating….time out for me is what i have started to do…i leave them to eat and walk away to get their rooms ready for sleep…that cheers me a little! Great tips thanks x
Love this post. Great tips. Thanks!
The Monko says
love this post. I too find counting to ten actually does work – i have no idea why it should but it does. I also find controlling my breathing helps. If I intentionally slow my breathing an concentrate in it it calms me down. But you are right about knowing your triggers and slowing down. Sometimes not getting into situations where you are likely to lose patience is easier than trying to stop yourself losing it.
I’m sharing this on the Sunday Parenting Party pinterest board, thanks for linking up
The Monko says
featuring this post on SPP this week
Thank you so much for breaking it down for me! To many times I hear read and know I need patience but it’s the “How” that I needed help with and you explained it perfectly! Thank you so much xo