It happens to most of us…there’s no cream for coffee, you are late leaving the house, the traffic is bad on the way home….and then one of our children unknowingly says or does something that pushes us over the edge. Out comes that “yelling” parent, leaving our child bewildered and us feeling guilty and regretful. All parents have at one point or another resolved to be more patient with our children, because of course we know, they are learning from how we respond, more than how we tell them to respond. What we do matters. Here are some ideas to relieve tension, maintain composure and be responsive instead of reactive:
- Always be gentle with yourself. This takes practice and you’ll make mistakes. We (parents and kids) are all doing the best we can in the moment. Recognize there will be lots more opportunities to practice patience.
- Breathe! Letting your breath out slowly calms your nervous system.
- Speak calmly. Say, “I am really losing my patience. I’m going to pause and take a few deep breaths.” This can help you and your child recognize that things are not going well and allows time for both of you to do a small reset.
- Pause and count (to 3 or 10) before responding. Not when your child is running out into traffic…but really, most things are not emergencies. Regathering first is good for both you and your child.
- Bring them close. A hug can create a connection reduce tension and between parent and child that dissipates anger. It will help both of you.
- Patience is not permissiveness. You are still responsible for setting clear limits. Connected, calm and firm.
- Take care of yourself. When we as parents are not getting our needs met it is easy to become resentful – and then we aren’t our best selves. Be creative about how to get the adult support and connection you need.
- Make repairs. No one is perfect. After you recognize your mistake and are feeling better, reconnect with your child. Apologize, problem solve and share how you are working to be more patient. (This is not a time to tell your child what they did wrong.)