Learn what may cause you to lose patience as a parent and how to fix it.
How to Be a Patient Parent
Kids can test your limits on a daily basis with minimal effort. They don’t want to get out of bed, they fight with their siblings over what to watch on TV, they don’t want to clean their rooms, they forgot to do their homework, they don’t like what you made for dinner…and the list goes on!
How can you be a patient parent without losing your cool during these times? What are some ways to calm down after a moment or two of impatience?
Use these tips to learn what it is to be a more patient parent, plus learn what may cause you to lose your patience as a parent.
Learning to Be a Patient Parent
First things first. Part of learning to be patient is knowing what sets you off as a parent. There are several things that can cause a parent to lose patience very easily:
You know if you’re tired, there’s greater potential for your nerves to be very sensitive to any stimuli. Remember those days after you brought your baby home? Parents tend to be more sleep deprived in their child’s early years when the child does not have a steady sleep schedule, causing them to lose their patience very easily.
Skipped breakfast and feel like you want to punch the wall? Blame hunger. Without food, you tend to be very impatient. Why? Serotonin, the chemical in our brains associated with regulating mood, dips low when we are angry (source: Is Hunger Making You Angry?).
Lack of preparation.
This can be taken in two ways: lack of parenting preparation or lack of preparation for events.
For parents who have not had any parenting education of sorts — books, videos online, classes, exposure to kids, etc.–being patient with kids of any age can be difficult due to not knowing how to handle certain situations at different milestones.
For parents who fail to be prepared for events or occasions—trip to the store, doctor’s visit, cabin fever, parties, long trip in the car — being patient with kids can be difficult when they don’t have enough snacks, didn’t let the kids take naps, forgot the diaper bag, or forgot anything that might make the day a bit easier.
When you’re sick, you need rest and relaxation, but is that really easy as a parent? Many parents have to take care of their kids while also taking care of a cold or stomach virus. Who is able to be patient then? Not many people, especially those who may be dealing with a chronic illness.
Lack of support.
When you’re without the help of another adult and on your own with your kids, it can be very easy to lose patience. You may feel overwhelmed and not know how to change matters for the better without help from another parent or adult.
So what can you do to remedy these situations?
How to Be a More Patient Parent
There are several things you can do to be more patient as a parent:
Get enough rest.
Being sleep deprived definitely can cause you to have a short fuse, so try to get enough rest to keep yourself feeling refreshed. At night, you should be getting about 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
I know that is easier said than done, especially when you have young children, but it’s a goal we all hope to reach someday!
Unable to get uninterrupted sleep or that many hours of sleep at night (like me)? Try to take a nap during the day or find time to sit down and rest for 10-20 minutes. By feeling rested, you give yourself the chance to react in a more positive manner.
Take care of yourself and your health.
Do you want to feel good and be able to react positively in situations? Take care of your health. Eat when it is necessary to prevent hunger, and eat healthy foods.
Not a breakfast fan? Have a small piece of fruit or a fruit/veggie smoothie.
Drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated as well. By drinking enough water, you can prevent unnecessary headaches and help your body to function properly, which will make you feel better.
Be prepared for anything.
I know it isn’t always possible, but try to be prepared for anything.
If you are new to parenting, find another parent, or some quality parenting books or websites to answer any questions you may have. Observe other parents when you’re out in public to see how they react to their children in various situations.
When at home with a baby or young children, have all of the essentials that will help you get through the day close at hand: food, clean bottles or cups, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, cleaning supplies, etc.
If you are going to bring your children in public, bring the essentials with you. Keep a diaper bag stocked and by the door for when you need to run out of the house unexpectedly.
When you have school aged children at home, keep supplies at home for school projects or papers. Find out when games, school concerts, or club meetings are and make a family schedule/calendar.
Find a support network or resources.
It makes such a difference to have help when you need it. If you are married or have a significant other, connect with him/her and talk about how you can work on parenting issues together. It’s worth it to be on the same page when it comes to parenting styles and dealing with the kids. It also helps if he/she can provide you some relief when you have been overwhelmed with the kids all day and need a break.
Have older children? Have them help you with daily chores to lighten your load. Often, simply doing the dishes, keeping their rooms tidy, and cleaning up after themselves can make all the difference.
If you do not have such help, find other adults to whom you can connect when you need help. Grandparents are often more than willing to help, as are your kids’ aunts and uncles.
If you don’t live near your family, find other parents in the area with whom you can make connections and ask for help when it’s needed.
More Ways to Be a Patient Parent
Here are a few ways to be more patient when dealing with kids:
♥ Remember they are only kids. It may be hard to remember sometimes, but your children are only kids. They are still in the learning stages of life, learning how to interact with others, learning how to verbalize their wants and needs, learning where their boundaries are. They may be limited in certain areas of life that you as an adult have mastered, which some adults fail to understand.
A toddler may scream, hit, or bite because he/she can’t express the words needed to show frustration. A preschooler may whine because he/she doesn’t know how to properly ask for what they want. A teenager may stay out past curfew because he/she wants to see where you stand with your discipline. In any situation, kids are really only being kids.
What can you do as a parent in these situations? The best thing to do is to redirect the behavior and teach your child how to properly behave. The lesson may not be learned immediately, but if you are consistent, your child will eventually learn how to act and interact.
♥ Give them attention. Kids who are starved for attention are more likely to cause trouble than those whose parents pay attention to them. Does this mean your eyes have to be on your kids constantly? No, but it wouldn’t hurt to put down the TV remote or your mobile device once in a while and play a game with them or read a book with them.
Giving them enough attention helps to prevent whining and other sorts of mischief kids will use to get your attention.
♥ Use “I” statements. When talking to your kids, especially when you are disciplining them, it is beneficial to use “I” statements rather than “You” statements. Why? It takes pressure off of the person with whom you’re speaking, making them see that what they’re doing has an effect on others as well without needing to talk back or be defensive.
Example: “Harry, you make me so angry when you throw your toys at the wall! ” (All pressure is on the child, who most likely hears “You, you, you”).
“Harry, I feel upset when you throw your toys at the wall.” (Taking ownership of the feeling gives the child a chance to see how his negative action hurts others. It also gives you the chance to voice how you feel, which is healthy for you).
♥ Whisper when you want them to hear you. If you really want to get the attention of a child, get down to their eye level and whisper what you want them to hear. Doing that forces them to look at you and focus on your voice so they can hear you.
Yelling at them often makes them tune out, which can make you even more angry. Getting down to their level ensures that they can hear you and will listen to what you have to say.
♥ Provide a change of environment for everyone. Sometimes just changing rooms in the house or even getting out of the house is what everyone in the family needs. If the kids seem to be getting bored with what they’re doing or they can’t seem to stop fighting with each other, move them to the kitchen where they can do a craft on the table, or take them out for a walk to the park or shopping.
A change of environment can boost the mood of the family and prevent loss of patience.
♥ Encourage naptime. Sometimes, everyone needs a rest in the house. Have a time during the day when everyone goes to their rooms and rests for a set amount of time. Not only is it healthy for little ones who need naps to grow, it helps everyone regain a sense of peace in the middle of a busy day.
Bonus Tips: Preventing Impatience and Anger
Here are some ways you can prevent impatience and anger as a parent:
Set clear expectations! If your kids don’t know what your rules are, how can you blame them if they ‘break’ the rules? Or if you need them to get ready to leave the house, how can you blame them for not knowing what steps to take?
Be very clear about what you want from your kids. Remind them verbally of the rules before the rules are broken. Remind them of the steps they must take before completing a task or getting ready to leave the house. It will save both you and them a lot of aggravation.
Ways for Parents to Calm Down
It happens; losing patience is a natural part of parenting. It’s what you do as you lose your patience or after you lose your patience that matters.
Here are some things you can do to calm down after losing your patience:
♦ Take deep breaths. A simple way to relax after losing your patience is to step away from the situation and take a few cleansing breaths. Inhale for 4-6 seconds, exhale for 4-6 seconds.
Once you feel like you have control over your emotions you can go back to the situation and take care of things in a positive manner.
♦ Countdown from 10. Another common technique to help a person calm down is to countdown from 10. Again, step away from the situation and slowly countdown from 10 or any number you choose.
The counting out loud forces you to breathe in and out, which can relax you.
♦ Take a parent time-out. Sometimes you just need to get away from the situation. It’s totally okay to need a time out now and again!
If you’re alone, put the kids in a safe environment and go to a different room for a few minutes. Close your eyes and just rest for few minutes. Think of a place where you would want to be and focus on that place. Read a devotional or a book of inspirational quotes.
Do what ever you would do to relax for a few minutes, and then return to the situation when you feel you’re ready.
♦ Ask for help. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. If you need help with the kids, your house, your finances, or anything that makes you lose your patience, get it. Talk to your spouse, family, friends, or agencies who can help you sort things out.
Can You Be a More Patient Parent?
Being a patient parent isn’t always easy, but it is so beneficial for your health and your mental well-being. Take the tips above and use them as part of your parenting style. You and your family will be grateful you did.
What are some things that help you to be a patient parent? Please share your tips in the comments!