Inside: How To Be A More Compassionate Patient Parent
We’ve all heard the phrase “good things come to those who wait”. But have you ever tried to tell that to a child who is hounding you nonstop for ice cream or a new toy? It goes over about as well as trying to sell ice to an Eskimo.
My definition of patience may vary slightly from those stuffy people at Merriam Webster. Patience to me is remaining calm when all hell is breaking loose around you. It means keeping your emotions in check and reacting rationally and appropriately even when you want to tell the person in front of you to just order their food and stop yapping!
Most parents figured they’d be a patient parent most likely because they never heard the word “mom or mommy repeated 100 times in a row while they were busy finishing a difficult task. Let’s face it, we lose our shit at times, and some of us might even try yelling as a means of getting our point across. Afterward, we hate ourselves for doing it. It felt good in the moment only because the noise stopped but you most likely have devastated your child.
Patience is a virtue and a skill that needs to be developed just like any other skill you have. My wife tells me I’m a patient person though I don’t always see it that way. She thinks I have a very patient way about me with our children in helping them with things like homework or projects. Where I’m not patient is when I ask them to do the same thing 10 times.
Our patience gets tested daily besides just dealing with our children. Our morning commute in traffic, train, or plane delays, standing in line at the supermarket for deli meat, waiting for your boss to get out of a meeting so you can get an answer to a question, and so on. Each day is one straight practice of patience after another.
So how then do you become a more compassionate patient parent?
Figure out what triggers you
What is it that most likely makes you lose your patience as a parent and when does that happen the most? I am at my worst after a long day of work and travel. I’ve been up since 5:00 am and worked an entire day on the road battling traffic to get to sales calls.
Throw in being hungry or tired and my patience becomes even less. My kids know by now what happens if I miss a meal. I get a headache and become irritable. I turn into a 5’7″ version of the Hulk until food enters my mouth.
Take a long hard look at what causes you to become impatient and make sure you identify your triggers.
Work on your response
What happens to you when a trigger goes off and you are no longer a patient parent? Notice what happens to your body and your emotions. For me, I feel a wave of warmth rush over my body, and my heart rate increases. It’s almost as if I just walked outside into a 95-degree humid day.
Take a minute to review the thoughts you are having when triggered.
- Why do I always have to ask 50 times for something to be done?
- Am I the only one who cares about this?
- Same shit different day!
Now think about how you respond! Do you immediately fly off the handle and begin yelling or slamming things? Or if you’re like me does your pulse begin racing and your body starts heating up? I am the type of person who catastrophizes and my thoughts immediately go to the worst possible scenario.
Pay attention to the subtle clues that your body and mind are giving you for these are the clues that will help you to become a more patient parent. Pay attention to your body and your triggers.
Plan for your triggers
If you have clearly defined your triggers and how you respond you can develop a plan for when they occur. Here are a few examples:
- Advanced planning. If you know you are tired when you first get home from work and need to eat first then let the family know that upon coming home give dad/mom a few minutes to unwind before unleashing request after request at you. For my dad, it was a quick scotch to unwind after dealing with a 2-hour drive home from work every day for 40 years.
- At the moment. When you find yourself being triggered, take a deep breath, calm yourself down, and perhaps walk away for a minute. If you respond right at that precise time you might say something you regret or not provide the best help or remedy. Clear your mind and come back to it.
- Follow-up. After the dust settled, take a moment to review. Sit down with your child and help them to problem-solve their choices or solutions.
If you lose your patience be the bigger person and apologize. You will be teaching a valuable lesson to your child.
My oldest very rarely has an outburst on us (my youngest is a different story) but when she does, we know that eventually (usually within 30-60 minutes) she will come back in and apologize.
Self-Care for the patient parent
If you want to truly become a patient parent you need to take care of yourself as well as your children. Parents spend so much time taking care of everybody else they forget how important it is to have some self-care. You can’t possibly take care of the family if you’re not taking care of you!
Take time out of your day or at least the week to do some things that you enjoy. Enjoy some adult time with friends for dinner or game night. For me, relaxation and time to recharge are when I’m working out or at the gym. It provides me the reset that my body and mind need.
Self-care is a struggle for many people and one of the main reasons for burnout. Schedule a block of time each day for you. Talk about it with your spouse so you have coverage with the children. It should not be a problem for either spouse to allow each other self-care time.
Even after doing all of the above, there may be times when you still aren’t a patient parent. No one is perfect and if you’re striving for continual perfection I’m here to tell you it will never happen so stop! Losing your patience now and then may just be the warning sign you need to slow down and step back and prioritize what’s important in life.
Even when you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel don’t! Parenting is a non-stop job with no vacations. Each day strive to be better than the day before which will help your children grow to be more rounded, decent adults.
How do you become a more patient parent? Comment below.