Oct 16th
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Becoming a Patient Parent

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I love our recent Facebook thread asking the question, “What is your biggest challenge as a parent?” (November 23rd)… so I thought I’d continue the conversation here…

I’d have to say “yes” to pretty much every answer. I think many of us feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities we have as parents to raise happy, emotionally stable, intelligent, thoughtful, kind, polite, and social responsible (etc. etc.) children… while still attempting to remain sane ourselves.
Patience was one thing that was mentioned again and again by many of you.

I don’t claim to be the world’s most patient parent — but it’s a goal of mine and it’s something I’m dedicated to becoming. Every parent loses his or her patience — it’s a fact of life. There are no perfect angels when it comes to mums and dads — we all get frustrated or angry and lose it from time to time.

But patience can be developed over time — it’s a habit, and like any other habit, it just takes some focus.

Here’s a list of 10 great tips and methods I’m trying out and experimenting with to help me become a more patient parent:


1. Pray.

I’m putting this as number one because seriously it works 100% of the time for me. Sometimes though… I TOTALLY forget to do it. Praying for help humbles me and reminds me of the blessings I have been given (three beautiful kids) and helps me see that they are divine and deserving of nothing less than the best treatment ever… and so I stop being so annoyed and see them in a different light.


2. Meet Their Needs

Patience means showing compassion, understanding and respect to someone in need. A child with unmet needs is more likely to provoke your impatience by reacting negatively. How many times have you been in the middle of an important task only for your toddler to ask a dozen times for a snack? The more he asks, the more impatient you become. If you take a few minutes to recognize his needs, however, you can often avert situations that cause you to lose your patience. Time means nothing to a child, so asking him to “wait a minute” is like asking him to wait an eternity.


3. Teach

This is something that helps me a lot. I remember that my kids are just kids — they are not perfect, they do not know how to do things, and they have a lot to learn. I am their teacher. I must be patient, and teach them how to do things — even if I’ve tried to teach them 10 times before, it might be the 11th time when things click. And remember, none of us learn things on the first try either. Find new ways to teach something, and you’re more likely to be successful.


4. Count to 10.

This one really works. When you feel yourself getting frustrated or angry, stop. Count slowly to 10 (you can do this in your head). When you’re done, most of the initial impulse to yell will go away. Alternatively, if you count out loud to 10, your kids will learn quickly that this is a good sign to run away. :)


5. How does this help?

When I’m about to say something to my kids, when I can remember, I ask myself, “How does this help my child?” This helps me to re-focus on what’s really important. Yelling or getting angry rarely helps any situation.


6. Find examples of patient people around me and try to emulate them

What is it that makes one person more patient than another? Watching others who always seem to be patient is fascinating to me. I try and figure out what is going on in their head that is different than mine. Often their thoughts and actions are more charitable and they are thinking of others more than themselves… and other people’s perspectives… so then they are able to be more patient. Often instead of getting annoyed or impatient they look at someone who is struggling or rude or tantruming and think… What can I do for this person? What is this person struggling with that is causing them to act that way?… instead of being offended or frustrated by someone’s behavior.


7. Take a break

Having patience requires a conscious change of behavior. If you have problems with patience and often explode in fits of anger, try techniques to calm down. Sometimes parents need a “time out” too. If your toddler has overturned rubbish bin for the tenth time and you’re about to “lose it,” remove yourself from the situation. Walk into another room and take a few deep, cleansing breaths, lie down if you have to. When you feel less reactive, you’ll be better able to address your child in a calm and rational way.

This one has worked for me, often it’s best just to walk away for a few minutes, let yourself calm down, plan out your words and actions and solution, and then come back calm as a saint :)


8. Visualise

This works best if you do it before the frustrating situation comes up. When you’re alone and in a quiet place. Visualize how you want to react the next time your child does something that typically gets you mad. How do you handle the situation? How do you look? What do you say? How does your child react? How does it help your relationship with your child? Think about all these things, visualize the perfect situation, and then try to actually make that happen when the situation actually comes up.


9. Be patient with yourself

Repeat after me: “I am only human.” And that’s true. “If I was a proper parent, I wouldn’t ever get mad” is an illusion, a delusion, and confusion of the issue. If you didn’t sometimes lose patience or even get really angry…now, that would be strange. Unless of course you have one of those rare children who never winds you up. So give yourself a break of another kind by pre-empting guilt with my affirmation… “I-am-only-human!”


10. Just laugh

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that no one is perfect, that we should be enjoying this time with our kids, and that life should be fun — and funny. Smile, laugh, be happy. Doesn’t always work, but it’s good to remind yourself of this now and then.


Bonus tip: Just love. Instead of reacting with anger, teach yourself to react with love. Your child spills something or has a messy room or breaks your family heirloom? Yells at you or gets in trouble at school? React with love. It’s the best solution.Be