As my daughter struggles to pull her long sleeve shirt through her jacket sleeve, I hear her frustrated grunt from behind. I turn to see her crumpled face trying to fish out that sleeve. Unsuccessful, she gets more upset and starts to whine and begin her angry dance.
I tell her to calm down so she can more easily get her sleeve through. She resists and continues to whine. I remind her that riling herself up like this won’t help her. I told her she’ll have a harder time pulling out her sleeve if she’s fired up and wriggling around. I left her alone so she could try and get her sleeves out on her own. I saw her settle down and calmly and slowly fished her sleeve through her jacket. She ran to me, proudly announcing how she’d done it all by herself because she remained calm. While it doesn’t always turn out this way for us, this time, it was a win. 🙂
Practicing patience – one’s ability to be still and delay one’s reactions to a disappointing or upsetting experience – in itself can be difficult. Add in today’s fast-paced lifestyle, we seldom get a moment of quiet and stillness for ourselves. As a result, many of us have lost the art of waiting and have grown more prone to being impatient, losing our cool easily when things don’t go our way.
Patience is a Gateway to the Good Things in Life
Patience teaches us self-control and increases our self-awareness. We become more mindful of our thoughts and emotions. It keeps us level-headed, allowing us to think clearly and avoid making rash decisions.
Patience gives us a positive mindset, which shifts our perspective and gives us the tenacity to endure the long haul so we can achieve our dreams.
Patience enables you to accept the things that are out of our control and instead focus on what we can control – our reactions.
Patience allows us to give ourselves the grace we need and nurtures our relationships with others.
Patience reduces our stress and frustrations, enabling us to live and enjoy the present.
Patience helps us become better people and improve the overall quality of our lives.
Failing to Practice What I Teach
Like most parents, I want my daughter to learn the importance of patience and practice it. I remind her to stay calm when she gets frustrated and to be patient when wants something immediately. In times she practices it without my reminding her, I make sure to acknowledge it.
However, while I preach it, I’ve been failing to do it. I’ve found myself easily losing my patience with my daughter recently. I would easily snap and scold her, even yell at her. Then, a few moments after, when I’ve calmed down and had time to think, I realized I failed to practice what I keep trying to teach her. Man, would I feel guilty and even ashamed. How can I expect her to practice patience when she sees me being reactive, rather than remaining calm myself?
Whether it’s from my lack of sleep with a newborn at home, or because I feel like there’s never enough time in the day for me to do all the things I think I need to do that I end up snapping at my husband or daughter… it’s no excuse. Often times, in my attempt to accomplish my agenda, I forget that my husband and daughter have their own agendas. And I inadvertently transfer my stress and impatience onto them when I feel they are preventing me from doing what I need to do.
I need to remind myself what I always tell my daughter – that she can’t control external factors, such as other people’s actions. However, she can control how she feels and reacts to these things – whether or not to allow those actions to affect her negatively.
If I want to teach my daughter to be patient, it must start with me. I can’t expect her to do it if I myself don’t to practice it. Simply telling her to do it won’t cut it. I need to practice it myself.
Practice Makes Perfect – Well, It’s at Least a Start
While it’s easy to say, “Patience is a virtue,” it’s more difficult to practice it in our daily lives, especially when your preschooler is constantly testing you. Patience is a skill we must learn. And to improve this skill, we need to keep practicing it.
In trying moments that call for patience, I need to remind myself to pause and take a step back:
- Listen to my thoughts and emotions.
- Take a moment to figure out what is triggering my frustration.
- Acknowledge my emotions and intentionally be non-reactive.
Taking this time for self-reflection provides me with an opportunity to reset myself, enabling me to better manage my emotions and reaction.
Patience with Myself and with Others
I need to practice patience with myself. I’m not perfect. Things won’t always go as planned. I won’t be able to do everything. I will underestimate how much time I need to finish my projects. And I’m sure I will yell again or do something I will probably feel guilty about after. But I need to be patient with myself – give myself the grace to let go of the guilt, learn from my mistake and move forward. In doing so, I will feel less burdened by the pressure I impose on myself (let’s face it, more than half the pressure I feel is self-inflicted) and would be less inclined to transfer my stress and frustrations onto others (usually my family). Plus, with Momzilla out of the picture, I would be more pleasant for my family to be around with.
I need to practice patience with others – my family, especially. They’re not perfect either. They’re gonna make mistakes and do things that bug me, but I need to remember that my husband and daughter are their own persons. They will have their own thoughts, opinions and agendas. The patience I have for them will keep the peace at home and further nurture our relationships by creating a safe space for all of us to be in, without worry that someone (me) will bite their heads off.
I Can Choose to Lose It or Not
If I want my daughter to learn and practice patience, I need to lead by example and make the conscious effort to be mindful of my emotions and reactions. I’m my own person, my husband is his own person, my daughter is her own person and soon enough, our newborn son will become his own person as well. We will all have our own agendas and they may collide against one another. But that’s life. It’s not a reason for us to be reactive. We can’t control what others do, but we can control how we react and respond.
So when family life happens and I don’t get my way, and all I want to do is pull my hair out and yell, I have a choice about how I respond. I can choose to simply lose it and snap at my daughter or my husband and regret it later. OR I can choose to respond in a way I’d like my daughter to respond – I can take a moment to pause and practice stillness to compose myself before simply reacting.
By choosing to respond with patience, I can:
- Create a calmer and less stressful home for my family.
- Create a safe environment for my daughter, wherein she feels empowered to try and do things without fear of making mistakes.
- Deepen my relationship with my family.
- More effectively teach my daughter patience through my actions.
If like me, you want to teach your kids the importance of patience, yet fail to practice it; perhaps you can join me in trying to be less reactive. In moments that call for patience, let’s pause before we blurt out something we will regret later. Listen to your thoughts and emotions, figure out the source of your frustration and simply acknowledge how you feel and remain still for a moment before responding. We will forget to or simply fail to do this at times, and that’s ok. Give yourself patience. Remember, practice makes perfect … at the very least, it’s a start.