Sarah is trying to work from home with a tight deadline. But her toddler, Sophia, is having a bad day, constantly interrupting and throwing tantrums. Despite Sarah’s best efforts to stay calm, the stress of work and a fussy child is slowly wearing her patience thin, which leads her to react in frustration.  Like Sarah, many parents struggle to balance parenting and other responsibilities, especially when external pressures appear. This article will teach practical tips for parents practicing patience in challenging situations.

Understanding Patience in Parenting

Patience is the ability to endure and remain calm in the face of difficulties, without becoming upset or agitated. It involves maintaining composure and a positive attitude when navigating challenging situations.

Patience is a virtue characterized by self-control, the ability to manage frustration, and a willingness to wait for desired outcomes. It is a valuable quality in parenting. 

What is Patience in Parenting?

Practicing patience in parenting involves your ability to remain calm, composed, and understanding of the challenges of raising children. Patience, along with a combination of other values, such as love, empathy, and respect, contributes to a nurturing and supportive environment for your child’s growth and development. 

Patience in parenting can be associated with certain traits. A 2023 study explored the characteristics of patience in parents with autistic children. The researchers found that for parents of moderately autistic children, patience is characterized by self-control. For parents of children with severe autism, patience is associated with grit, hardiness, and resilience. (*)

In parenting, patience might look like the following:

  • Addressing tantrums and emotions calmly and helping kids navigate their feelings.
  • Taking time to understand the underlying causes of misbehavior and responding with empathy.
  • Guiding children through the learning process, whether it’s teaching them new skills or important life lessons.
  • Allowing children the space to gradually make their own decisions and learn from their experiences.

The Benefits of Being Patient

People who practice patience are more resilient to stress, anxiety, and frustration. Moreover, they can better control their emotions during challenging situations, which allows them to make better decisions. Emotional regulation is closely tied to patience, because it allows you to handle frustration without reacting impulsively.

The ability to regulate your emotions in challenging situations offers several benefits when it comes to parenting. Research published in 2021 looked at 53 studies to understand the link between parents’ emotional regulation, their parenting behavior, and how their children handled emotions. They found that parents that are good at managing their emotions had more positive parenting behaviors and their children had better emotional regulation and adjustment.  (*)

Practical Tips for Cultivating Patience

Developing patience is a gradual process and it involves adopting certain habits and doing them consistently. Below are some tips you can try:

Mindfulness Techniques for Parents

Mindfulness is the mental state of staying focused on the current moment, without distraction or judgment. It encourages you to observe your thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to resist them or label them as good or bad. When applied to parenting, mindfulness might look like:

  • Accepting the present moment, even when you’re facing challenges: Accept that impatience is a natural emotion, and allow yourself to experience it without resisting. Remember that your emotions will come and go.
  • De-stressing through mindful breathing: Instead of reacting impulsively to your impatience, inhale and exhale slowly to regulate your emotions.
  • Practicing self-compassion: This means recognizing that everyone experiences moments of impatience, and being kind to yourself rather than self-criticizing.
  • Giving your full attention when communicating with children. This means actively listening to your kids without distractions.

Take Breaks

It’s easy to react in frustration when you’re feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities as a parent. Practice patience by taking breaks allows you to step back, re-evaluate, and approach situations with a clearer and more composed mindset. This provides you with a fresh perspective on the situation. When you take breaks, you can regulate your emotions and allow your mind and body to relax. It’s also a good way to prevent burnout when you’re dealing with challenges.

Communicate Effectively

When you can communicate your expectations clearly to your child, you can reduce misunderstandings. It also allows you to resolve conflicts peacefully and therefore, reduce the cause of your frustration. Additionally, communication skills allow you to discuss feelings with your child, which can help with regulating emotions.

For instance, when parenting an angry child, you can start teaching them impulse control. This can prevent them from acting out when they’re angry. They can also be taught to use an anger thermometer to identify signs of anger early on, so they can cope healthily instead of lashing out.When you model being a good communicator, your child will also be inspired to do the same. This can help create an environment where you can communicate with respect and patience.

Strategies for Practicing Patience in Challenging Situations

Showing patience in a challenging situation is a skill that can be practiced. Let’s say your child is throwing a tantrum. First, take deep and slow breaths when you’re starting to feel frustrated. You can also count to ten while gathering your thoughts before reacting. Then, bring your awareness to the present moment and focus on what you can control. Use a problem-solving mindset to find solutions to challenges, such as your child feeling tired or sick. 

If you need your child to cooperate, express your concerns clearly and use simple language to tell them that you understand what they’re going through and that you are there to help them. Using descriptive emotion vocabulary will help your child later communicate their feelings appropriately to you. By applying these strategies, you can handle difficult situations with calmness and composure.

Cultivate Patience Day by Day

Parenting is a journey filled with ups and downs, and you will inevitably feel overwhelmed at times. Remember that you are not alone and many parents are experiencing the same thing. Embrace the journey and don’t hesitate to seek help or talk to a friend, family member, or support group if needed. It’s okay to ask for a hand, especially when you need time for some self-care and love.

If you are interested in learning more about calm parenting, take a look at Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny’s online class Mindfulness: Raising Self-Aware Children.

About The Author

Michael-Vallejo-blogger

Michael Vallejo is a Child & Family Therapist with a private practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Through Mental Health Center Kids he hopes to support other therapists, parents, teachers, and mental health professionals with visually appealing online resources to support the well-being of kids in their care.
References:
Hidayat A, Azhar M, Anis M, Purnomo H, Muliadi R. Characteristics of Patience in Parents with Autistic Children: A Phenomenological Study. International Journal of Islamic Educational Psychology. 2023;4(1). doi:10.18196/ijiep.v4i1.17498
Zimmer‐Gembeck MJ, Rudolph J, Kerin J, Bohadana-Brown GR. Parent emotional regulation: A meta-analytic review of its association with parenting and child adjustment. International Journal of Behavioral Development. 2021;46(1):63-82. doi:10.1177/01650254211051086