Being a parent is not always sunshine and lollipops, and if it is, the sun is in your eyes and the lollipop is stuck in your hair. Suffice to say, children can be challenging. Maintaining your Saint-like patience is difficult when your child is scream-crying because you chose the wrong plate to put their toast on, or while you are trying to explain why they can’t wear their tap shoes to childcare. Now maybe you don’t want to be more like one of those parents in the supermarket, gently encouraging their little one to stop throwing apples at people and get back in the trolley. Let’s just aim for more talky, less shouty communication.
Take a minute
Everyone has a breaking point and after many hours of patiently letting your child carry their own juice and change their shoes fourteen times the breaking point can be something that isn’t that big a deal. So before you react. Just take a few moments to breathe and then respond intentionally, not just emotionally. Children use these count to 10 boards at kindergarten and although I don’t think the board is necessary for parents. The count slowly to ten technique gives you that thinking time.
Look at the situation through their eyes
Being an adult means you have the gift of experience. You know what will happen if you walk with an over-full glass. You know that the stuffed giraffe at Kmart isn’t the last stuffed giraffe you will have a chance to own. Children do not have these years of experience or practice at controlling their emotions. Try and empathise with this and see things from their point of view. Even though it seems like they are intentionally trying your patience, try and react consistently to similar situations. Ie. Don’t move the goalposts, if yesterday (when you were less stressed) you let your child sit on the bench while you made their sandwich, changing the rules today because you are tired and they are in the way is confusing for them. This will no doubt add to their upset and your stress levels.
If you are having a bad day and you know that you have not been as patient as you would have liked. Tell them so. Apologise for your reaction and tell them how you should have reacted. After all, you are setting the example for how you want them to behave. Admitting that you were wrong is a way of showing them that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes and then we try harder tomorrow.
Take care of you
Having said all this, it is still difficult to always remain calm. Sometimes you just need some time to yourself. It can be hard to ask for help but you need to care for yourself to be able to care for others. So ask a friend or family member if they can babysit for a couple of hours while you do whatever you want (as long as it is for you ie. Not packing the dishwasher) Get your nails done, go shopping, read a book….sleep. Whatever you need to do to recharge yourself and calm your mind.
Then…. Back into the fray!
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