How to be patient, when your child is not….
I think patience is one of the most sought after virtues in being a parent. We want patience, and we want it now! I am so amazed out how much joy my children can bring while at the same time driving me to the edge…and then over! I REALLY thought I was a patient person…until I had my first child.
Children just have a really hard time comprehending why they have to wait…for anything! It’s just HARD! If you think it’s hard to watch a child throw a tantrum, try watching an adult! I’ve probably had almost as many meltdowns as my kids because of their impatience! Obviously, this doesn’t help the cycle at all, as they see mom being impatient and then think it’s ok.
All of my children push my buttons. It just depends on the day & which child will win the award for doing it the best! Saturday morning I was lying in my bed reading an inspirational talk on how to have more patience. I figured it was a good way to start the day before the minions started filing in with all their demands. My 5 yr old woke up and immediately started demanding I make her some breakfast. I told her I would as soon as I was finished reading (it was literally only 3 pages.)She continued to whine and cry and ask if I was finished every 30 seconds. I finally looked her in the eye and said,
“I am trying to read a talk about how to be more patient!”
Her reply was,
“I know! But it’s taking F-O-R-E-V-ER!”
My husband, who was lying next to me, started laughing and said,
Then we all proceeded to laugh and all was good in the world again. This scenario is not new in my home. I can thing of about a hundred scenarios in which I have had to endure a situation when one child or another just could NOT wait another second for what he or she wanted. Here’s a few for your entertainment
- Someone didn’t want to sit a minute longer in the grocery cart, so they started chucking legos (which I stupidly brought thinking it would keep them entertained) at the cashier during checkout.
- Someone couldn’t wait to play outside, so they popped out the window screen to sneak out.
- Evidently all spill-proof cups aren’t created equal, especially when thrown in the aisle at church. Thank goodness for a husband who wasn’t afraid to clean carpets in the middle of a meeting, with everyone watching.
- Take my word for it, metal lunch boxes filled with trains are not meant to be thrown off balconies!
- Full gallons of milk are not meant to be handled by 3 yr olds who just want their cereal NOW, and milk floods on wood floors DO NOT a patient mother make!
- Chunky wooden puzzles are so adorable, until they are thrown at a new flat screen tv, and then they are outlawed forever!
- Last, but definitely not least, 4 year olds should never be allowed to have a driver’s license, especially when garage doors are standing in their way!
You might think I have the most unruly, impatient children and that I must be an awful mother.
Nope. I have good kids, and I’m not an awful mother. What I have is really big amazing spirits that are currently trapped in little miniature bodies and trying to learn how to deal with the world around them. In the process of learning all that they need to know to not only survive in this world, but to be the amazing adults I know they will someday be, we have our battles…ALOT! I won’t EVER win an award for being the most patient mother on the block, but I am learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t with my kids.
1. Learn to walk away. I have some really stubborn kids who will try to engage me in their tantrums, whining, and arguments…till death do us part! When I argue back and forth with them, it only makes things worse. IF I can walk away and find a place to calm down before I engage, things turn out much better. I say IF because they usually follow me!
2. Practice being autonomous. What this means in simpler terms is to not be influenced by what is going on around you. I like to think of it as being emotionally neutral. If my kid is screaming, I can join in on the same emotion by screaming back or reply calmly. Have you ever been confronted with a very angry person? What usually happens when you remain calm, speak kindly, or ignore their nastiness? It will initially make them angry because you are not engaging back with that same anger. Eventually they give up, or they calm down too!
3. Be firm but loving. Here is a scenario that I had during breakfast this morning. My 5 yr old did not like what I was making for breakfast and wanted me to cook something separate for her. Well, I’m sorry, but my kitchen is not a drive thru and I am not a made to order cook! She started yelling and demanding that I make something else for her. Normally, I would lose it and scream back at her (which never works) but this morning a miracle happened and I was able to calmly say,
“I’m really sorry that you don’t like the breakfast we are having, but if you cannot be kind to me, then you will need to go to time-out or do an extra chore.”
Another miracle happened when this actually worked and she gave up. I’ve been doing this all day today and so far so good. It’s not the first time, just a great reenactment of what I know I should be doing but sometimes forget in the heat of the moment. This cute clip is one of my favorites:
4. Put yourself in their shoes. As adults, it’s really easy to see their lives through our eyes. Here’s the problem, they haven’t got as far as us yet. It’s like expecting a first grader to comprehend an ACT test. It’s just not gonna happen! On the other hand, WE can somewhat remember what it was like to be in THEIR shoes, can’t we? Here is a post I wrote awhile ago on finding joy through a child’s eyes.
5. Take care of YOURSELF! How can you truly expect yourself to muster any patience with anyone if you are sleep deprived, malnourished, or living your life with a glass that is always empty. You deserve to be taken care of too! I have learned this over and over again! The times when I am eating crappy or staying up too late only to be woken up early by demanding kids, are the hardest to be patient with my kids because my body is just physically FRIED and DRAINED. Try taking care of yourself FIRST before you try to meet the demands of others. You might just find you not only have enough patience to get through the day, you might even have some leftover!
Patience is a really tough virtue to master! If you feel like you are failing at being a patient parent, just remember 2 things:
- Your children were sent to YOU because YOU were the only one who could teach them what they needed to learn in this life. Cut yourself some slack and remember that you are your worst critic. In your child’s eyes, you are so much more amazing than you think you are. This video will help you realize that.
- Don’t give up! God doesn’t care who you once were or what you’ve been. He only cares who you are now and who you are striving to be!. So, with every new second of every hour, of every day, you have a clean slate! Make the most of it! I guarantee you your kids are!
Now if you’ll excuse me, that same 5 yr old is again whining in my ear and it looks like I get another opportunity to practice patience. Wish me luck!