Helpful Tips for Practicing Patience with Children
During this highly unusual time of sheltering in place with our children, we are all in new territory. What we are currently experiencing gives the term “Work and Family Balance” a whole new meaning. Most of us don’t work from home and have our own offices where we can concentrate and have fewer interruptions than we do when we are balancing our work assignments and caring for and educating our children simultaneously
Practicing patience is one sure way for us to all get through this time. We need to be a productive employee, but also a loving, caring and nurturing parent. Every parent loses their patience, it’s a fact of life. We all get angry and frustrated and lose it from time to time, but patience is vital because it is a part of creating a deep and meaningful connection with our children.
There are real benefits to becoming a more patient parent. A study from 2014 out of the Washington University School of Medicine found that children with more supportive, nurturing and patient parents experienced more brain growth. These children were also less likely to be depressed and better able to cope with stress and adversity. They were better learners and had fewer problems in school. While having proof that being a more patient parent is important, it certainly does not make it easier.
You can develop patience over time by making it a habit and focusing on achieving this goal. What exactly is patience? For most people, patience means remaining calm and keeping your emotions in check so you can respond in the most appropriate or effective way.
Here are a few “tools” that can help parents to become more patient:
- Practice deep breathing and counting to 10
- Remain calm, firm, non-controlling and slow down
- Avoid being overly judgmental, which could leave your child feeling criticized which then causes defensiveness
- Be an empathetic and reflective listener to see how your child genuinely feels
- Use understanding to slow yourself down and try to analyze what it is you would like your child to do or change
- Stop destructive labeling and all or nothing thinking patterns
- Practice positive visualizations and let the little things go
- Catch yourself doing healthy behaviors
- Don’t take it all so personally, children are misbehaving due to their own struggles, not yours
- If you find you need time away from the situation in order to respond in a more controlled manner, do so
- Redirect to a new activity
- Go outside with your child and take a walk
You should also ask questions. What happened here? If your child did something wrong, did they understand it was wrong? Did they learn from their mistake? Tell your children what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Most of all, let them know they are loved!
Losing your patience can be productive as well. It can help you recognize when you are stretching your resources too far. If you think about times in the past when you have lost your patience, you likely realize that it is usually when you are feeling overwhelmed, overloaded and possibly underappreciated.
Build-in time for self-care. It can be almost impossible to stay on an even keel when you are frazzled and running on empty. Remember to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep and get together on occasion with your friends on ZOOM or other video conferencing platforms while you can’t see each other in person.