How to Be More Patient with Your Kids

Parenting is a roller coaster, rewarding yet frustrating, blissful yet infuriating. You love your children beyond all reason, yet sometimes being patient with them feels like an impossible task. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Learning to be more patient with your kids can be a difficult task, but it’s totally worth it. Recent research has found that children with parents who are supportive, nurturing, and, yes, patient, do better in school, are less likely to be depressed, cope more effectively with stress and adversity, and literally have more brain growth. If knowing the benefits of being more patient makes you want to work towards that goal, here are some tips to help you get there.

  • Set yourself, and your children, up for success. Often, bad behavior from children is the result of unmet needs. Children who are tired, hungry, or overwhelmed are far more likely to act out than they normally would. You’ll have less cause for impatience if you work around your child’s needs and schedule. Don’t run errands at naptime or mealtime, and take care to pay attention to the meaning behind the behavior.
  • Identify triggers. Do you tend to lose patience in the mornings, when everything is hectic, and your children fail to quickly get ready for the day? Get ready for the morning the night before, so that things will go more smoothly in the morning. Do tantrums from your child trigger you? Learn to listen to your children, getting down on their level so that you can look them in the eyes and repeat back key phrases, letting them know you understand. Redirect negative behavior before it gets out of hand.
  • Take care of yourself so you can take care of your kids. Eat well, rest well, and take a time out when you need a break from the children. Sometimes, stepping out of the room will be enough to help you regroup, other times you will need to take a night off to feel refreshed and better able to cope. Just as your kids will be less likely to try your patience if their needs are met, you’ll be better able to maintain that patience if your needs are met. Try to keep things in perspective, understanding that your children’s brains are not fully formed and they’re still learning.
  • Don’t hesitate to call for reinforcements. This could mean asking a friend or family member to keep the kids for a little while so that you can take a breather. It could also mean seeking help from a social worker or your child’s pediatrician. Therapy for your children can help mold their behavior; therapy for you can help you find coping mechanisms of your own.

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