Positive parenting is important to me. It’s not that I think parents need to be perfect. When my daughter tells me I’m “the best mommy in the whole world,” I hug her and tell her I’m an okay mommy.
One area where I do aim high is patience. This is not about perfection. It’s about effectiveness. I believe that losing one’s temper is completely unhelpful. Calm disciplining is far more effective and can yield long-term results, faster.
So while I have learned to accept that I’m human and forgive myself for occasionally losing my temper and raising my voice, I do strive to be as patient as possible with my children and remain calm even when faced with the most irritating, maddening, illogical behavior. If you have kids, you know what I mean.
Here are five tactics that (usually) help me stay calm:
1. Take a parental time-out
Time outs have become a popular disciplining tool. They can be quite effective when done right. But sometimes, the one who really needs a time-out is you. When I feel anger building up inside, I often go out to the garden for a few minutes to breathe in some fresh air and relax. Sometimes I go to my bedroom, lock the door to ensure privacy (my kids, 7 and 9, are old enough to handle a few minutes without me), and rest for a couple of minutes.
Simply removing yourself from a stressful situation and taking a short break can be very helpful in preventing an outburst.
2. Remind yourself how small they are and how much you love them
Sometimes when my kids make me angry, I look at them, and instead of allowing myself to get mad, I force myself to see how small they are physically. I then remind myself that they need my guidance and my love, and that even if they did something to really upset me, I still love them more than anything.
Stepping back from the situation and looking at the big picture of how much you love your kids and how small and helpless they are is a great way to calm down.
3. Instead of raising your voice, give them a hug
This is similar to the previous technique, but it’s more physical. It works like magic: when a young child is upset and yells at you “I hate you,” try – instead of yelling back or becoming upset – to simply hug them.
Even if they resist at first, they will often relax within a few seconds, gratefully melt into your arms, and the entire scene will be over.
4. Take care of yourself
While the previous techniques are good for handling specific situations where you feel the anger building up, this is something that will help you be a more patient parent in general.
Don’t be a martyr! Don’t sacrifice your own passions. Exercise, eat right, keep a hobby or two, and make sure you spend a few hours alone, doing something you love (napping qualifies) each week.
When you are healthy and well rested, when you’re not constantly exhausted and frustrated and bored, you will find that you have significantly more patience for your children.
5. Lower your expectations
Perfectionism is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. You can’t be happy if you’re a perfectionist (trust me, I should know), because things – life – will never be perfect.
Lower your expectations of yourself, as a person, as a parent and as a homemaker. Lower your expectations of your kids too. They are human. They WILL make mistakes. They will not always behave perfectly.
Set the basic boundaries – things they must never do (such as hitting or swearing), and let go of the rest.
Positive parenting is not about perfect parenting. We all do our best, and it’s not easy. But using the techniques outlined here can significantly reduce friction and help in creating a more relaxed atmosphere.
Photo credit: jenn jenn