One year, I taught a pre-kindergarten summer school class. I was young, new to the teaching profession and eager to take on any job, no matter how hard. Working in an area with little parental involvement, this was the first school experience for most of these children. Furthermore, many of these four-year-olds lacked boundaries. I was frustrated when kids would leave the carpet in the middle of a short lesson and play on the computers without permission. Looking back, I wish I would have been more patient with these young students. As I became a more experienced teacher and, later, a mother, I learned how to have patience with children.
Count to Ten and Breathe
This may seem so simple but it really helps. Counting and breathing has a calming effect. According to psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, breathing helps “you slow down and that really slows your nervous system down.” In relation to our children, I think breathing and counting helps you collect yourself, prevents you from yelling and gives you the ability to explain the difficult math problem on your child’s homework, one more time.
Sometimes, it’s easier to be more patient when you have other adults around or someone to keep you accountable. Thus, make sure to meet up with friends or family or join a kid-friendly activity. In addition, ask a spouse or friend to remind you to be patient. You can even set a reminder on your phone.
Take a Timeout…for Yourself
When I feel myself becoming frustrated, I will take a timeout for myself. This might mean having someone else watch my kids, watching a movie with the kids or setting my children up with an engaging activity so I can sit on the couch for a bit (while still watching them). Taking a parenting timeout can help you feel rejuvenated this gives you the ability to be more patient.
I have a real problem with only doing one thing at once. I can hardly watch a movie without doing sit-ups, writing or paying bills at the same time. Yet, when I’m watching my kids and they want my attention, it’s better for me to put everything aside and give them my all. While I do think children need to play by themselves and be independent, there are times in the day when I need to focus on my family.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep makes us happier and, as a result, allows us to be more patient. According to Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, “feeling sleepy and slow means I have even less patience than usual.” On the other hand, when we sleep more, we are able to wake up earlier and have a more relaxed morning. Furthermore, during a busy morning, a good night’s rest helps parents have patience when their children are taking too long to get dressed for school or trying to find their shoes.
Having patience with children isn’t always easy. I know I’m a work in progress. However, reminding myself of these tips helps me stay level headed and, of course, more patient.
More from Melissa:
How to Get Kids Interested in Science
Teaching Siblings to Share (While Avoiding a Zombie Apocalypse)
4 Reasons I Don’t Want My Kids to Grow Up