Demonstrating patience with your kids will help them show it to you as well.
As parents, we tend to spend much of our time urging our children to listen to us or to get ready faster — and sometimes we lose our patience in the process.
Although losing our cool every once in a while is almost inevitable, practicing patience with our children is one of the best ways to teach them how to manage their emotions and responses to different situations.
This is because children tend to learn how to manage their emotions by mimicking their parent’s emotional regulation techniques, according to a
This means that if a parent tends to shut down, raise their voice, or give up, their child may display a similar response when also faced with a frustrating task.
Additionally, how a parent regulates their emotions when managing a distressed child is particularly influential when it comes to that child’s emotional development, according to the study.
So, learning to remain patient and calm in front of our children when we are frustrated, particularly when our children are the ones contributing to the frustrating situation, is one of the most important skills we can develop as parents.
This is often easier said than done, but there are some tips you can use to help you become more patient with your kids. Here’s how to get started.
If you’ve been asking yourself “How do I stop losing my patience with my children?” you may want to try these tips:
- taking note of what consistently causes you to lose your patience
- making a plan for the next time you feel yourself losing your patience
- creating parenting goals for yourself and considering the obstacles in your way
- creating a foundation of communication with your child
- practicing mindfulness with your children
It’s also helpful to remember that you are not alone. Finding support, whether it’s through a partner, a family member, a babysitter, or a friend, can help reduce some of the stress you may be feeling.
What sets you off? Noting the situations or behaviors that trigger your impatience may help you prepare for those situations in the future.
Some possible situations that trigger your impatience might include:
- running late (for school, sports, appointments)
- when your child disobeys or disrespects you
- sibling fights
- feeling rushed
- being tired after work
If your child is running late, for instance, that may trigger your impatience. So, to prepare ahead, you might try to do everything you can to save time on a busy morning. This can mean:
- laying out their clothes at night
- packing snacks ahead of time
- putting bookbags and projects by the door
As you explore triggers and begin to make shifts in your routine, you may start to notice that things run more smoothly and the consequences of losing your patience — like raising your voice, becoming frustrated or upset, or having arguments — occur less frequently.
In addition to preventing situations that trigger your impatience as much as possible, you can also develop strategies for when you do find yourself becoming impatient.
Perhaps that means:
- letting your child know that the conversation won’t continue if they’re talking back
- distracting your child with an activity if they begin to whine
- taking a few deep breaths before you speak with your child
No matter what your strategy is, the idea is to plan ahead of time. When we have a plan, no matter what it’s for, we are more likely to be able to practice patience, instead of losing our temper.
Let’s say you have a goal of getting out of the house every morning without losing your temper with your kids, who have a habit of dragging their feet. Imagine achieving that goal and how it will make you feel.
Now, what are the obstacles in your way? It helps to name and visualize them. Then, you can combine your goals and obstacles by using an “if-then” statement.
The if-then statement is when you consider how and where you can overcome your obstacle.
For example, you might say to yourself, “If my children prepare for school the night before, then they will have less to do in the morning, and I may not have to raise my voice.”
By using an if-then strategy, you have identified that your obstacle occurs in the morning and has to do with your children not getting ready fast enough. You have now considered that perhaps if your children get ready for school the night before, they might move more quickly in the morning, and you will not have to raise your voice at them to hurry up.
Now you can name not only what you want, but also what you need to do to get it. This thought process is known as mental contrasting. The purpose of mental contrasting is to promote action.
Although mental contrasting is a fairly new concept and research is ongoing, there have been some promising findings. For instance, a 2013 study found that students who applied mental contrasting by using the if-then technique improved both their grades and school attendance.
So, this technique may not only help you achieve your parenting goals, but also may help your children reach their own personal goals.
Being a good parent is not just about getting your child to school on time today. It’s about a long period of being there for your child through all their triumphs and struggles. What that looks like may take some time to figure out.
For instance, let’s say your child is reluctant to go to school in the morning. Instead of yelling that it’s time to go, consider asking why your child wants to stay put. The reason might be that they were playing a really cool game or reading a good book or simply that they feel safe where they are. They may also be experiencing some stress about school, and this is a great opportunity to support them.
Consider telling them you understand that they want to stay in their comfort zone and maybe even relate to them by admitting that getting ready in the morning is hard for you too, but now it’s time to go. The validation calms both of you down and gives you a moment of connection.
You may not always have success with getting your children to do what you ask, but you can develop communication strategies to increase the likelihood of success.
Practicing mindfulness, either through yoga, meditation, or journaling, can be a great way to cultivate patience. This is because mindfulness practice can help you learn to better regulate your emotions.
For instance, a
It can also help improve self-compassion, quality of sleep, and relaxation.
Mindfulness practice may be helpful for your children as well. A 2013 study found that preschool-age children who participated in a year-long mindfulness yoga program demonstrated better self-regulation, including increased attention and more control over their inhibitions.
Having both you and your child practice mindfulness may help with both your own patience and the situations when your patience is tested by your children. Consider practicing meditation or yoga alongside your kids with an app or on YouTube.
Patience is a virtue, sure, but parents make mistakes and occasionally lose their temper. You may way to view the journey to be more patient with your kids as a marathon, not a sprint.
The key is to identify what your triggers are and create a plan ahead of time for when you encounter those triggers. Sometimes this means taking some space or coming up with ways to communicate with your child that gets your needs across while also allowing your child to feel seen.
And because impatience on either your or your children’s part affects the other person, consider working on developing patience alongside your child. This can mean teaching them about mental contrasting or practicing mindfulness together.
There is no one way to be a good parent, and it’s nearly impossible to keep your cool all the time. But there are skills you can develop to make parenting feel a bit more manageable.