So apparently patience is a virtue… It seems to be the hardest one to come by, especially when your kid has just thrown their dinner on the floor and is shouting “MUMMY, I WANT ICE CREAM!” on repeat…
But what are the steps to become a more patient parent? How can we stop losing our temper and patience with our kids? What can we do to stop yelling?
These are just a few of the questions that were on my mind at the height of a toddler tantrum. So I went on a journey to find my zen. Here are a few simple things you can do to start now.
Although some of these may seem obvious, how many of you actually employ these techniques?
- Try to remember how much you love them
- Remind yourself that they’re young and don’t fully understand
- Take deep breaths while counting to 10 with your eyes closed
- Stand up and remove yourself from the situation for a few moments
- If you have help, it might be time to tag
Although some of these seem like no-brainers, how many of us actually employ them? We’ll have a look at these in a little more detail before exploring some more long term changes that’ll have a massive impact on your zen journey.
How to become a patient parent right now
Remember how much you love them
Take a moment and observe your children’s actions. Don’t really interact with them just watch what they’re doing, notice their faces, see their little brains working trying to figure out how to get what they want. Take a step back to see them problem-solving.
When you take the time to notice, you may find your patience increasing. Sometimes I tilt my head sideways and give my daughter a knowing smile. It doesn’t take long for her to smile back. We both know she’s being cheeky and we often end up laughing at the situation.
Give it a try, it’s not something that works every time, but you love your kids to bits, just take some time to notice their little behaviours, even when they’re annoying you.
Their brains are undeveloped
According to the book ‘The Whole-Brain Child‘ the brain is split into left and right, while your child is young, the left brain – the analytic side doesn’t have all the tools it needs to take charge when they’re upset.
This is when the right brain kicks in. The right brain is in charge of their feelings. They are awash with emotion and can’t seem to stop – your kid’s age determines how to respond.
You will need to be patient – try to empathise with your child and let them know you understand how they must be feeling and notice what is causing their frustration.
Don’t jump straight in and try to tackle the problem with your left brain right away, you’ll meet with resistance. Once they can see that you’ve understood why they’re upset, they’ll start to calm down, you can offer them a hug. After this point, we can start to explain the problem to them.
The power of breathing
According to the NHS, deep/calm breathing exercises will help to control your stress and anxieties, these practices can be done throughout the day.
Similar to Yoga breathing, find a comfortable position and then focus on your breathing. Take a few normal breaths and notice your breathing. Now to calm your breath, breath in through your nose if possible filling your belly, you should feel it expanding. Hold your breath for a count of 5 then slowly exhale, you should feel your stomach contracting.
Your inhale should be calm, don’t try to take in too much air. Do this up to 10 times to help you wash away any stress and anxiety.
This can be quite hard to implement in the beginning, especially when your kid is pulling on your clothes because you’ve not responded right away. It gets easier over time, this is Filipa’s go-to method of regaining her failing patience.
Practice this technique a little before you employ it in a high-stress situation. When you feel your patience is running out, close your eyes and breathe out the stress. This will not only help to remove the stress of the situation but also help to calm you down and your little one will look at you like “what is mummy / daddy doing?” – that in itself often gives them a moment to focus on something other than what is making them upset.
I remember being told repeatedly as a kid, ‘when you feel yourself getting upset or start to lose your temper, just walk away’. I now pass on this nugget of wisdom at work.
When everything starts to become a bit much and you feel your patience disappearing, assess the situation. If it’s safe to do so, take a moment to calm down and walk away from the situation. Tell your children you’ll be right back, you just need a moment.
Your children may be upset by this or annoyed, but that’s ok, you’re not going for long – just a short moment to regain your sanity and find your calm. While away, do some of the breathing techniques suggested above. They’ll likely appreciate your response when you come back over the yelling they’d have got if you’d stayed.
This teaches your children that it’s ok to walk away when things start to get hairy. You’re not walking away completely, you’re just taking a moment to calm down and they can too.
If you have a partner, then you need to use them. This could be when you need to walk away and practise your breathing for a moment, or even just to take a few moments to yourself so you can find your calm.
We use it all the time and it makes our lives so much easier. Perhaps one of you is better at dealing with certain situations and you get a better response from your child, why not give that job to that parent and keep your patience and your sanity.
For a long period of time, our daughter wouldn’t fall asleep with my wife without feeding, then she’d wake up as soon as the feeding stopped. You try not to lose your patience when you’ve been sitting in a dark room for an hour or have tried to put her down on numerous occasions but she’s woken up every time.
We used to tag in this situation. After a little while of being unhappy, she’d realise she wasn’t getting any more milk, so she’d fall right asleep. To avoid all the trouble, I started doing nap times and it meant my wife and I can enjoy the calm period of her nap time.
Long term solutions to a lack of patience
Get enough sleep
Sleep plays a massive role in our lives. If we don’t get enough of it, we start to feel irritable, cranky and can sometimes over react to seemingly insignificant behaviours!
Making sure you’re getting enough sleep should drastically increase your mood and make you a more patient parent!
If you have a young kid from 4-18 months, why not try out our FREE Sleep schedule? Or even try changing your sleeping pattern to match your kids?
If your older kids are waking up early, why not put activities in place like needing to shower, or reading 20 pages of their book before they come to you in the morning. Let them know you expect a rundown of what has happened on the pages they’ve read.
Healthy diet/eliminate hunger
Eat healthy nutritious foods that keep you full and give you energy. Your aim is to avoid getting ‘Hangry‘. This is something you can put in place with your kids as well. My daughter, like me, turns into a little monster when she is hungry.
Correcting your family diet, making sure you’re eating at regular intervals, adding healthy snacks like fruit and removing unnecessary sugar will help with everyone’s patience.
When do they kick off?
If you know the times when your kids are likely to kick off, you’ll be able to put things in place beforehand to remove stressful situations, a prepared parent is a patient parent.
If you know your kids get grouchy when they’re hungry and this usually happens before dinner, make sure you have some healthy snacks prepared for them while you’re making dinner.
You could also put in activities that will distract them, like play, homework or even put their screen time at this point; it will give you the freedom to cook in peace.
According to an article in Sports Medicine – “exercise is associated with improvements in mental health including mood state and self-esteem… Research on acute exercise indicates that 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic activity results in improvements in state anxiety and mood that persist for several hours. “
“Evidence from studies involving clinical samples indicates that the psychological benefits associated with exercise are comparable to gains found with standard forms of psychotherapy”.
This doesn’t just apply to you! Get your kids moving too – according to the book ‘The Whole-Brain Child‘ getting your children moving while they’re feeling unhappy or on the verge of having a tantrum will help them to calm down.
Depending on their age, why not go for a run and take them with you? Perhaps a long walk or do some exercise either in your garden or inside your home. Why not even throw some Joe Wicks on YouTube and follow along? The release of endorphins will help you both!
Although not an expert on meditation I have used it several times before, in Yoga, during a mindfulness course I did with work and when listening to and meditating with Headspace. Now I meditate for 2 minutes every morning when I know there’ll be no distraction – before anyone wakes up.
The benefits of meditation are:
- clearing your mind
- calming down (works well with breathing)
You need to take some time to yourself! Figure out what it is you enjoy doing and spend some of your time doing it. Whatever it is that’ll allow you to decompress. This could be exercise, reading your book, doing some Yoga. I really love a bath!
I’ll put my laptop on a chair, make sure my bath is piping hot and watch a show for 40 minutes while bathing in salts or oils… heaven!
Simple things to look forward to in your day can really help! So, take some me-time and see your level of patience increase!
Parenting is stressful and patience is sometimes hard to come by. Make sure you’re using the tips in this guide to increase your level of patience and find your light at the end of the tunnel.
So to recap – some of these methods can be done right away, like:
Reminding yourself how much you love them and that their brains are still developing, so they don’t make the best decisions. Employ breathing techniques to help you calm and centre yourself, allowing you to take a moment before being overcome by the urge to shout or dare I say hit.
Remember that removing yourself from the situation is a great tactic for both parents and children, we can take some time to calm down before we react negatively. And lastly, if you have a partner, don’t forget to tag when the going starts to become too tough.
Other techniques should be employed long-term to see the massive benefit but will take more planning to implement. These include:
Getting enough sleep and changing your family diet will change all parties’ energy level and mood. Meditation and exercise are two things that also play a big difference when trying to become more patient. Clearing your mind and allowing your body to release endorphins that’ll change your mood and help you mellow out.
Knowing when your kids are most likely to kick off and how to capitalise on this knowledge will keep your anger and frustration and bay and allow your to be the calm and patient parent you deserve to be.
Lastly, get some rest… Me-time is so important. Make sure you’re doing things that make you happy and allow you to decompress.
Most important of all, don’t beat yourself up! We’re all still learning and trying to be the best parents we can be. Give yourself a pat on the back for trying to make a positive change!