Patience may be a virtue, but parents of toddler and preschoolers know how challenging it is to keep a cool head when faced with the daily struggles of keeping a household running. It’s tough, but having a little patience also leads to a happier, more loving, and more inspired YOU. Here are practical tips how you can start practicing it today even if you’re not very good at it:
1. Pretend someone’s watching
It may sound silly, but if you get to practice patience then why not, right? As writer for Parent Co. and special needs teacher Kristin McCarthy says, imagining how someone may be taking notes how you parent can force you to pause before you say anything regretful. It's also a nice trick to be more mindful how you respond to your child.
2. Take it one step at a time
All the things that need to get done, coupled with big and loud emotions from your child, can easily become overwhelming. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s harder to keep your cool and be patient. To counter this, keep your focus on the task at hand and take things a step at a time.
“Although meltdowns and tantrums seem like they last forever, they don’t,” said McCarthy. “Naptime, bedtime, a favorite show, or daddy walking through the door will happen and you will be saved, even if only temporarily. Focus on that short-term and get to the next parenting checkpoint.”
3. Take care of yourself
It’s difficult to be patient when you lack sleep or haven’t eaten anything the whole day. You need to care of yourself, so you can take care of your children. Commit to daily self-care habits like getting a decent night’s rest, eating filling meals (junk food will only make you hungry more), and taking short breaks away from the chaos when you need it.
Don't forget to take care of yourself emotionally. “When your emotions are dysregulated, you're in fight or flight, and your child looks like the enemy. Calm yourself before you engage with your child,” said Dr. Laura Markham, a child psychologist and parenting expert, for Aha! Parenting.
4. Know when you’re most impatient
Look back at past experiences? Do you find yourself easily irked during mealtimes? Impatience triggers can also be toys all over the place or coming home after a day of work to very makulit and noisy kids. When you've figured out your trigger, anticipate and learn what you can do about them.
Telling the kids beforehand that you need a little bit of quiet when you come home can help. You can find good storage boxes the next time you’re at the mall or commit to teach your child to clean up his toys for himself.
5. Try to really listen
When your toddler is whining, shouting or hitting you, it can be very hard to listen to what she’s really trying to tell you. Little children, however, are not developed enough to properly communicate what they want, said Dr. Markham. Getting impatient about your child’s emotions won’t do you both much good. “If yelling at him about his behavior were going to change it, that would have worked already,” added Dr. Markham.
Instead of snapping, try problem-solving first. Putting her down for a nap or a little lambing may be all it takes to calm her down and help you be a more patient parent.