“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?