Patience is one of those things we wish and may even pray for, but still, it feels like it’s an unreachable goal because kids are so darn good at pushing our buttons.
But one thing I’ve learned after being a mom for 33 years is that patience is like a muscle; it grows stronger as it’s exercised.
No weightlifter starts with a 200-pound weight. They start with small weights, maybe 25, 50–and as they learn to conquer those, they keep increasing the weights.
No parent—or maybe I should say, very few parents— are born naturally with an abundance of patience. But as they exercise it in little ways, they get better and better at it.
If you’d like to grow your patience muscles, then I have a 5-step exercise plan for you:
Breathe deeply and walk away, if necessary.
The first baby step you can take is to walk away or give yourself a time-out if you feel your patience wearing thin. If you have to walk away, tell your child, “Mom/Dad needs to take a quick break. When I get back, we will talk about this.”
Whatever it takes for you to calm down, do it. Deep breathing, counting to 10 or sending your child to his or her room. This is so important because I guarantee that what you say in anger and what you say when calm is two different things.
Be slow to speak; quick to listen.
Once you feel you are somewhat calm, listen to your child. When you really listen, you have a better chance of understanding them. This means you’ll have to stop talking while they are, don’t interrupt, and let them speak without your criticism or correction.