How are you at calm parenting when your kids push your buttons? When they fight with each other. When they “forget” to do their homework. When they make you repeat yourself 5 times before they do what you ask. As much as you love your children, they will surely drive you crazy at times.
Kids test our patience daily and if you are short on self-control, you will most likely lose the battle to calm parenting. I like to think of patience as a muscle and all muscles must be worked and developed to grow strong.
If you’d like to grow your patience muscles,here are 6 ways to help them grow S.T.R.O.N.G.
Seek to Understand.
One of the most powerful things a parent can do to practice calm parenting is to listen first, seek to understand, then to be understood. This keeps you from jumping to conclusions, judging before you know the backstory, and reading the headlines when there’s a whole story.
There is always a why behind your child’s what. Once you have a better understanding of that why, then you can address the situation calmly and wisely.
Train Yourself to Listen.
As you seek to understand, you must learn to listen more than you talk. There’s a wise verse in the Bible that instructs people to be “quick to listen.” Unfortunately, parents are much better at being quick to react and forget all about listening until they’ve had their say.
Being “quick to listen” means that you….
Respond Vs. React.
When you practice being quick to listen, it allows you time to respond to your child instead of reacting.
When you respond, you think about how your words are going to sound to your child. How will they be perceived? Are your words going to help or will speaking them simply make you feel better? Are you saying something that will benefit your child or simply getting your frustrations off your chest?
I can’t count how many times I’ve said things to my kids and wished I could take those words back. If I had stopped to think about how my words were going to be perceived by my child, I most likely would have chosen another way to respond.
One way to help you respond instead of react is to pause to remember the bigger picture of your response. I call that an outlook adjustment because your outlook on parenting will directly impact your day-to-day parenting.
If your outlook is simply parenting for today, you will do what’s easiest, most convenient, and cheapest. You will basically parent in survival mode, living in the moment as a parent and giving no thought to what type of people you want your child to become or the character that you want them to build.
But if you have a longer-term outlook on parenting, you are parenting for tomorrow. You look towards tomorrow and ask, “what type of adults do we want our children to become?” You keep that goal in mind each day as you deal with parenting challenges. That vision will help you daily strive to instill character in your kids that will make them the type of adults you want them to become.
Navigate a Breather.
Whatever it takes for you to calm down, do it. Deep breathing, counting to 10, sending your child to his or her room, or giving yourself a time out–whatever it takes to help you RESPOND instead of REACT. This is so important because what you say in anger and what you say when calm are going to be two different things.
That breather has a two-fold purpose: First, it will help you calm down so that you are parenting in anger and saying things you will later regret. Second, it will give you a chance to think about what your child really needs in that moment. What does your child need to learn? What is the best way for you to help them learn it?
When you recognize that your job as a parent is to teach and guide your kids, not punish them or simply “make them behave,” then you will take the time to think through your parenting and become intentional about how you discipline them and speak to them.
Give Yourself Grace.
You will make parenting mistakes. That’s a given. But what you should not do is beat yourself up over those mistakes, hating yourself and living in guilt. If you make a mistake, admit it, apologize, and then ask yourself what you should do differently next time.
If you are hard on yourself as a parent, give yourself some grace, learn from your errors and grow a a person because of it.
Knowing these tools does not mean that you will wake up tomorrow and implement them perfectly all at once. But the more aware you become of your words and the power they have to shape your children, the more you will stop to think about your responses, and your patience muscles will slowly grow stronger and stronger every day.
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