Patience: Where Can I Buy Some?

A conversation with Cooper…

Cooper:           Can we go to the park?

Lisa:                Sure. Let’s get our shoes on.

(Cooper continues to play)

Lisa:                Cooper, please put your shoes on.

(Cooper continues to play)

Lisa:                Cooper, PLEASE put your shoes on.

Cooper:           Why?

Lisa:                Because we are going to the park.

Cooper:           Why are we going to the park?

Lisa:                Because you said you wanted to go to the park.

Cooper:           Huh?

Lisa:                You said you wanted to go to the park.

Cooper:           I don’t want to go to the park!

Lisa:                Arrgg!!!!!!!!!!!!

I probably have a conversation like this with Cooper at least once a day.  Patience…it’s not my strong suit.  I have never been a patient person; however everyone told me I would learn patience once I became a parent.  Right!

As parents, we all have a patience meter. The gauge goes up and down depending on our mood, our personality, and our triggers. If there is one thing that most parents wish they had more of, its patience. So I did some research and found some ideas on how to improve my patience skills.  I hope you find some value in this information.

Examine Your Expectations
Children are not adults. They don’t think like adults or act like adults.  So we need to have expectations for our children that are age appropriate and situation appropriate. To expect a child to always remember to share his toys is unrealistic.  Remembering that a child’s main focus is to assert his or her independence can help put the tantrums and strong wills into perspective.  Sometimes we lose our patience because we are expecting our children to behave in a way they are simply not capable of. Take time to examine the situation and try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. How might he be feeling? What is important to your child in the moment?

Don’t Take Things Personally
Your child is going to do things that are seemingly directed right at you. He might stare you down and defiantly say “NO”.  Some of a child’s misbehavior may be intentional and some may be unintentional, but none of it is personal.  As soon as we become personally attached to our children’s behavior, we begin using their behavior as a measurement of our adequacy as a parent. If they behave nicely, we are a great parent. If our children misbehave, we have somehow failed. These feelings of failure evoke an emotional reaction in us that can cause us to lose our patience. Instead of being emotionally involved in a child’s misbehavior, observe the situation instead.  What triggered the outburst and could it have been avoided?

Adjust Your Parenting Style
There is not a one size fits all style of parenting. Every child and every situation is different and learning to be flexible and open to what is working and what is not can make a world of difference in managing our patience. For instance, if you have a strong willed child, being overly strict and controlling will create more power struggles and test your patience.  Just like every child has a different personality, each situation needs to be treated independently. If you are in the middle of a situation that is escalating, examine your approach. Is what you are doing right now helping or hindering the situation? Be willing to adjust your approach to help diffuse the situation.

Develop a Consistent Discipline Strategy
Many times when we lose our patience, it’s because we have waited too long to discipline our children. When children misbehave, they need a consistent discipline strategy.  If you know your child has an issue with arguing, handle this issue the same every time it comes up.  If you do this consistently, your child will eventually learn his or her boundaries.

Take a Timeout
Parents can definitely use a timeout now and then. Consider taking a timeout in the middle of an emotionally charged situation. It is okay to walk away if you are beginning to lose your patience. You might think your child is winning the battle if you walk away, but the opposite is true. Your child wins the battle when you lose control of your emotions. Some battles are not worth fighting and some battles need a timeout. You can always go back when you are composed.

Source: Lori Radun, CEC is a certified life coach and professional speaker for moms.

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