I have a lot of very fond memories of my dad, the most vivid of which is how much time he had for my sister and me. It was almost as though everything came to a complete standstill whenever he spent time with us, and while he traveled a lot when I was a child and I didn’t get to see him very often, I always felt like he gave me 100% of himself whenever he had the chance.
In the months since he died, I have given a lot of thought not only to the different things he taught me, but also to his approach to parenting. He made it very clear that he was proud of me, and never made me feel like a nuisance, and I knew I could count on him for ANYTHING right up until the day he died.
To say I miss my dad is an understatement, but rather than dwelling on the fact that he’s no longer with us, I am trying my hardest to keep his memory alive by being the kind of parent to my daughter that he was to me. I don’t always do a great job, but I try my hardest, and today I’m sharing 9 great tips to teach you (and me!) how to be more patient with your kids.
But before I do that, I want to share an amazing set of resources with you. I recently stumbled across the book Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, and before I purchased it, I started reading all of the Amazon reviews (which I always do!) and discovered the author, Dr. Laura Markham, not only has a blog (Aha! Parenting), but she also teaches an online course. It’s currently closed for registration, but after reading her book, I’ve signed up for the next session and cannot wait as the reviews on her website are astounding. In the meantime, I’m soaking up all of the useful info on her blog and I keep falling in love with her over and over again.
And now for those tips…
1. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF FIRST
I am a perfectionist by nature, which means I am really, really hard on myself. Whenever something doesn’t go exactly as planned, I blame myself and inevitably become grumpy and irritable with anyone within my immediate vicinity. But once I started to cut myself a little slack and accept the fact that I simply cannot control everything that happens in the world, it felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. And when I learned to stop taking things that are out of my control personally, I found I was much better at taking things in stride.
2. TAKE SOME QUIET TIME
When my daughter stopped napping at the age of 2, I started to enforce an hour of quiet time after lunch each day. I found it made a world of difference in allowing her to take a breather before tackling whatever we had planned for the rest of the day, and I typically used the time to answer emails, throw in a load of laundry, scrub the toilets, or vacuum, which meant I was usually exhausted and irritable by the time I tucked her into bed at the end of each day. And then one day I had an AHA MOMENT and started allocating 15 minutes of quite time to myself each afternoon, and I found it made a world of difference in helping me regroup, collect my thoughts, and tackle whatever life decided to throw at me. You should try it sometime!
3. GET UP EARLIER
I have never been a morning person, but because I know I need a little quiet time to collect my thoughts and get myself together before tackling the day, I have always made it a point to wake up at least 30 minutes before my daughter. Of course, this isn’t always impossible as kids are unpredictable and I have a tendency to press the snooze button more than I should, but I find I am a much more pleasant and patient person when I allow myself that extra 30 minutes to myself before I start my day, and try my hardest to make it happen.
4. STOP MULTITASKING
I used to be the queen of multitasking, and while I still have a tendency of trying to do too many things at once, I have learned that the more I take on, the more overwhelmed and anxious I feel, and the more irritable I become. So I try my hardest not to spread myself too thin, and I find when I only focus on one task at a time, I’m not only much more productive, but I’m also much less agitated!
5. AVOID TRIGGERS
We are often very good at avoiding triggers that cause our children to have temper tantrums, but we rarely apply this important rule to our own lives. Of course, figuring out the things that cause us to become irritable and impatient isn’t always easy, and sometimes those things simply cannot be avoided, but the next time you find yourself losing your cool, I urge you to take a step back to see if you can find a trigger and figure out a way you can avoid the same situation from occurring again.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: regular exercise does wonders for the mind, body, and soul, and it’s particularly good for stress management, so do yourself a favor and make your visits to the gym a priority. And if time and money are in issue, try some of these fabulous at-home workouts. You won’t be sorry!
7. USE DISTRACTIONS WISELY
While I’m not a fan of sticking kids in front of the TV, or allowing them to spend too much time on their electronics, experience has taught me the importance of having a few distractions on hand for those moments when I need to a couple of minutes to finish a task before giving 100% of myself to my daughter, or when I need a moment to collect myself after an episode with The Freaking Fours. The trick is not to use these distractions often so they don’t lose their effectiveness when you really need them.
8. PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE
As parents, we tend to expect a lot from our children, and while it’s important that they be on their best behavior most of the time, it’s important to remember they are only children. Kids like to test boundaries – it’s what they do! – and our reaction to their behavior can have a lasting impression on how they develop over time, so think before you act.
While these are all great strategies to teach you how to be more patient with your kids, there will still be days when your children seemingly go out of their way to push their limits with you. But before you react, take a deep breath, count to 10, go for a walk, or do whatever you need to do to calm yourself down. Because you know what? This too shall pass.
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