One of the most common concerns I hear fellow parents express about their parenting skills is their inability to be as patient as they would like. It’s understandable because children require a great deal of patience, and many of us just don’t have it. And even those who entered parenthood thinking they are pretty patient people can be left feeling confused when their kids make them realize that being a parent requires a whole other level of patience.
And why is patience so important anyway? Well, an extra does of patience often keeps us from becoming stressed out about a situation that we probably cannot control. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that leaves us expecting immediate results for everything. When we want something to happen, we want it to happen right now. If it doesn’t, we become impatient. We also have schedules that are so jam packed that we think there’s never enough hours in the day, and this belief creates even more impatience. But there really is no denying that if we learned how to be more patient—with our children and ourselves—we would be better off.
So instead of feeling guilty for some of our parenting decisions, what can parents do to help them practice a bit more patience? Here are a few tips. I hope they bring some calm into your life and your parenting.
1. Practice Waiting. Do you ever have a long, stressful day, yet despite how tired you are, you decide to stay up watching Scandal instead of getting the sleep your body needs? That’s an example of wanting immediate gratification. It’s your favorite show, so you want to watch it when it airs. But is there really any harm in waiting until the weekend? Practice making yourself wait for the things you find gratifying and it will begin to help you realize that waiting isn’t so bad. Once you develop the ability to wait with more ease, waiting on your kids to complete a task won’t be so bad at all.
2. Breathe. A deep breath goes a long way. The feeling of impatience is a familiar one, so you know when it’s rearing its ugly head. When you start to feel like your patience is slipping away (or was never there to begin with), just breathe. Don’t say a word, don’t make a mean face—just breathe. Practicing deep breathing can help you release stress and anxiety and it gives you the opportunity to put things in perspective. Once you are calm, you can shift your thinking to something else and when that shift takes place, your kids are more likely to comply.
3. Be More Mindful. Typically, a lack of patience comes from feeling rushed. Have you ever stopped and ask yourself, why do I feel so rushed? Is this need for speed self-imposed? Are you taking on too much? Are you in need of help but too stubborn to ask for it? Think about the why behind your feelings and your behavior. Once you identify the reason for your behavior, you may realize that there are some simple changes that may help you slow down and become a lot more patient with the people that look up to you and love you the most.