How to Have Patience With Children's Behaviors

It may seem impossible, but sometimes just taking a deep breath is all you need to regain patience with your kids.

You may have envisioned being the kind of mom who has an endless supply of patience. Then you had a child of your own and you realized that even the best of children make it very hard to have patience all the time. Sometimes you don't feel well, or your child doesn’t feel well, or you’re busy and your child is suddenly in need of constant attention, or any other number of things that might make your child’s behavior something you have zero patience for. Since it’s unlikely your child will ever be perfect, it’s time to learn how to garner a little patience in situations when yours goes missing.

Stop whatever you are doing and take a few minutes to calm down, advises Debbie Pincus, MS, LMHC of Empowering Parents. When you stop whatever you are doing, whether it is fuming and thinking that your kids cannot possibly behave any worse at the moment or yelling at them to just stop acting like monsters and learn to behave, you need to remind yourself that you are in this moment and wishing you weren’t isn’t going to help. Stop the mental complaining and the physical anger and tell yourself that this situation isn’t ideal, but you are not responsible for what happened, only for helping your children calm down as well as yourself.

Take a deep breath. According to Dr. William Sears, taking a deep breath gives you a few seconds to relax your mind and your body, which enables you to practice patience. While exhaling, imagine that your frustration is leaving your body as your patience pushes it out.

Remind yourself what has helped you maintain your patience in the past, advises Pincus. When you take the time to remind yourself how you handled situations similar to this in the past, you are giving yourself a head start on how to handle the current situation. If your child is throwing a tantrum because you will not allow her to have a snack before dinner, remind yourself what you did the last time she threw a tantrum for the same reason. If you were able to manage her behavior by redirecting her to another activity, such as coloring a picture or helping you set the table, you can rely on the same activity to help you keep your patience while she is screaming.

Practice patience when you don’t really need to, advises Pincus. This will help you have more patience with your children’s behavior in the future. If you practice these techniques when you're not feeling impatience, you will be better able to keep your patience in the future when your kids are behaving in a way that makes you feel irritated and short on patience. If you practice picturing a beautiful, serene beach in your mind when you feel a little anxious, impatient or annoyed, even if you are simply in line at the supermarket, it will make it easier for you to do when your children are misbehaving.