When I was younger, I always said I would be the most patient and understanding parent when it came time to have kids. And I have had every intention to follow through on not losing my patience too quickly and too often with my kids; however, if you are a parent, you likely already know that this is much easier said than done.

As a parent, we wear many hats. Sometimes, I am juggling my job, being a made, being a cook, and of course, being a parent, mentor, and guide to a tiny human who hasn’t fully developed their emotional skills just yet. With so much pressure on our backs already, it’s no wonder why we lose our patience so easily. However, while that may be a good explanation, it’s our job to also school ourselves how to be more patient with our little ones. Because while they may test our patience, they don’t set out to. And they need us to remain calm, so they can see us modeling the same behavior we expect from them.

This can be a daunting task. But, it’s not impossible. Here are 8 ways to be a more patient parent.

1. Understand their intentions.

Remember that your kids aren’t setting out to test your patience. Instead, if they are acting ‘wild’ it’s likely because they are in need of something, or they are trying to express an emotion to you. While this may not exempt them from consequences, it’s something to keep in mind when you are about to lose your cool.

2. Don’t talk at them, talk with them.

It might be tempting to lecture them, but it’s not going to get you very far. Instead of nagging or yelling at your kids, sit down and talk to them. Explain why you need them to do x,y, and z or why they shouldn’t behave that way. Offer alternatives or help them find better ways to express themselves.

3. Understand your triggers.

If every time your child yells at you, you lose your cool, that is a trigger. If them talking back to you makes you feel edgy, it’s a trigger. Identify what behaviors are the most triggering for you and stay aware of them. This will help you to be mindful of what is happening as it happens, so you can try to control how you react.

4. Be aware of how you respond to certain behaviors.

Take notes in a journal or notebook on a daily basis about how you responded to certain behaviors. Make notes on how you could have handled the situation better, and then make a plan. (See below.)

5. Have a plan in mind for how you handle triggers.

Create a plan for when triggers occur. For example, if your child throws a toy at your face when you are trying to tell them something and that is a trigger for you, make a plan. This plan should include some type of breathing exercise or even taking a step back when you are about to lose your cool.

6. Set aside time for just you.

You can’t spend every moment of your life being a parent or a wife. Make sure you are taking time for just yourself so that you can refill your cup. It might seem selfish to take some me time, but it’s actually necessary because otherwise, you are going to end up burned out.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you are still struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to people that you trust that have been parents before. Or, reach out to a therapist or even your partner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

8. Be clear on your expectations and consistent with consequences.

Have realistic expectations for your child’s development, and make them abundantly clear. When they do wrong or misbehave, have common sense consequences in place and stand by them. Don’t give warning after warning, but instead, follow through.

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