Do you know how to choose patience?
Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, difficulty, or annoyance without getting angry or upset.”
I don’t know any parent whose life is free of delays, difficulties or annoyances. In fact, I’m pretty sure most moms and dads experience them on a regulary, probably daily, basis.
Your child is slow in getting ready for school in the morning.
Somebody in the house didn’t clean up their mess in the kitchen.
The kids are not focusing on their homework and it’s hurting their grades.
In those moments, you have a choice. What door will you walk through? Patience or Impatience?
Unfortunately, choosing impatience is not good for you or your kids. It’s not good for your kids because they are feeling your frustration, but may not be really learning anything in the process.
It’s not good for you because it affects you in many negative ways. Research has connected impatience with irritability and higher risk of heart problems. A 2016 study found that impatience was linked to people having shorter telomeres, the part of our DNA that affects how we age. This suggests that a lifestyle of impatient behavior might actually speed up the aging process. That possibility alone should keep us motivated to keep calm!
Here are 3 steps to take to help you build up your patience “muscles” and hopefully keep you looking and feeling younger!
Recognize when you’re starting to feel impatient. Why are you feeling that way? What emotion is at the center of your response? Are you angry that you are stuck cleaning up the kitchen? Are you tired and irritated that your kids are not doing their homework? Are you anxious that the kids won’t get to school on time and that you will be late to work?
When things aren’t going our way, we most likely blame it on something that happens TO us, something external. It’s always our kids’ fault, our spouse’s fault, our neighbor’s fault. But the reality is that the root of the problem is what’s going on in our own minds–our response to whatever we are facing.
Recognizing these triggers is a huge first step. This will help you slow down and focus on one task at a time and remove those things that stress you out.
Try to see the situation through a different set of lenses. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. (My child is tired and doesn’t feel like going to school today. My kids are forgetful and cleaning up the mess in the kitchen is not a priority to them.)
Whatever triggers your impatience with your kids is usually not about you. They usually aren’t trying to get on your nerves or test your patience. They are just reacting to how they feel. Reframe your thinking from taking their behavior as a personal assault to understanding their behavior from their point of view.
See the Bigger Purpose.
The best kind of parenting is the kind that keeps a big picture perspective. Sure, it’s irritating that your kids didn’t clean up their mess, but they need to learn how to be responsible and so your objective should be: “what do they need to learn and how can I best help them learn it?”
Of course it would be great if your kids didn’t complain every time they had to sit down and do homework, but it’s important that they learn the importance of learning and of being responsible.
Instead of just putting up with your kids’ behavior, look at it as an opportunity for them to learn a lesson about coping in life.
Train for a Marathon, Not a Sprint
The most common mistake people make is thinking that sheer determination can turn them into a more patient person overnight. That type of thinking will make you feel like a failure and push you to just give up and assume, “that’s just the way I am.”
Marathon runners don’t run 26 miles on their first day of running. And they don’t train for the 100-yard dash either. Runners who are serious about completing a marathon don’t expect immediate results. Their training takes months and months.
In the same way, parents who want to build their patience shouldn’t expect it to happen immediately. You must TRAIN, not merely TRY, for patience. Make these three suggestions a habit: Take Notice, Reframe, and See the Bigger Picture.
At first, you will become aware of your impatience AFTER you’ve blown it. However, don’t give up. Over time, you will find yourself becoming aware of your impatience WHILE you are blowing it, and then eventually you will catch yourself BEFORE you blow it. Keep training with these habits and you will see your patience grow.
If you struggle with growing your patience and would like someone to help, I’m a parenting coach. Schedule a free call here.