5 Ways to Practice Patience as a Parent

You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.

Franklin P. Jones

Being a parent or caregiver of children is certainly an exercise in patience. Between the barrage of questions kids ask, the seemingly endless hunt for a missing pair of shoes, and our constant reminders to make their bed or finish their homework, children inadvertently remind us to check our patience.

The hustle and bustle of work, school, sports, and extracurriculars can easily cause us parents to “flip our lids.”

Dr. Dan Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry, indicates when our downstairs, emotional brain starts firing at such an intensity that it overtakes the functioning of our upstairs, thinking brain, we flip our lid. We can go from calm and collected to angry and yelling in a matter of a few seconds when our lid is flipped.

In order to teach children how to manage difficult emotions, parents must first learn how to exercise patience and keep their own lid from flipping.

Below you will find five easy tips for practicing patience with your children: 

  1. Take a deep breath – Breathe in through your nose for five seconds, hold, then slowly breathe out through your mouth. Deep breathing can calm your body and allow you to pause before responding to your child.
  2. Remove yourself from the situation – If possible, step away from the situation and take a moment to collect yourself. Taking a break from the chaos can help clear your thoughts and prepare you to approach the situation in a calm manner.
  3. Remind yourself that your child’s brain is still developing – Children do not yet have a fully developed prefrontal cortex, which is associated with decision-making, problem solving, and self-control. Understanding that your child’s brain is still learning how to regulate emotions and behaviors can help us have more empathy for challenging behavior.
  4. Engage in self-care – Taking time for ourselves allows us to recharge our batteries and fulfill our own needs so that we can better serve the needs of our children.
  5. Ask for help – Recognizing that we need help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Asking your partner, family member, or friend to take care of the kids for an afternoon can allow you time to rest or check items off your to-do list. It may feel intimidating at first to ask for help, but over time you may notice it becomes easier. The African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” certainly speaks the truth!

Next time you feel your patience wearing thin, try one of these tips and see which works best for you. Interested in learning more about patience and other parenting skills? One of our professionals at GROW Counseling would be happy to meet with you for parenting education and guidance. 

Mary Anne Sylvester