4 Ways to Become a More Patient Parent

Gaining a little more patience can do wonders for your relationship with your child.
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There are a lot of situations in which you need to practice patience--waiting at the DMV, expecting a phone call about a job interview or riding out the week until Friday arrives. But nothing quite tests your patience like handling the misbehavior of your own child.

It’s so easy to break down and yell, say things that you don’t mean, or give in to bad behavior rather than keeping your emotions at bay.

The good news is, while you’re working on improving their behavior, you can also work on improving yours.

Here are four strategies that can help you become a more patient parent:

1. Look Through Your Child’s Eyes

As an adult, we’ve been taught to hurry through every aspect of the day. Fast is good, but faster is better.

A 5-year-old, though, doesn’t see it that way. If he’s having fun doing what he’s doing, then he wants to do it for longer--even if it means going over budget on time. As a parent--and probably a stressed-out one, at that--take this as a lesson from your child. Slow down and enjoy the process.

2. Plan Ahead

With kids, everything takes longer, whether it’s getting ready for school or going to the grocery store. Anticipate that extra needed time so you’re not racing against the clock.

Plan in advance what your child will need to get going, whether it’s setting out her clothes the night before or packing a snack to keep her quiet while you’re shopping.

It’s easier to practice patience when you’re ready for problems that you know you’ll have to deal with.

3. Identify Your Triggers

It’s not always something your child does that trips up your patience. Sometimes, it’s frustration that followed you home from work that causes you to snap at your kids, or pent-up feelings about being treated like the household maid (from your kids and your significant other).

So, when you find that your child has dropped his coat on the floor again or is taking her time brushing her teeth in the morning, you might lash out. Once you’ve recognize the activities that are more likely to cause you to lose patience, you can develop a game plan that will help you stay calm.

This might include developing strategies that will decrease your stress. Create household rules that will reduce your burdens - such as having your child put away her belongings when she comes home from school. And create strategies that will ease your strain--such as talking to your boss about some flexibility in your schedule.

4. Be Patient with Yourself

Everyone, including the most angelic of people, lose their patience at one time or another. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a parent; it simply means that you’re human.

However, you’re more likely to lose patience if you haven’t taken care of yourself. Think about the last time you did something for yourself, whether it’s going out to dinner with friends, going for a jog or taking a hot bath.

The less time you spend doting on yourself, the more likely you are going to lose patience with those around you.

When all else fails, fall back on the tried-and-true trick of counting to 10 before saying anything. Breathe in and out, extending your breath out for the entire length of counting. Like anything else, patience is a quality that take times and practice to acquire. It requires exercising “muscles” that might not be strong enough yet, but as you build them up, it will get easier.

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