Where Did My Patience Go?
Because your child is growing quickly, nothing remains the same from day to day—nothing except the presence of feelings! Feelings and change are the only constant in parenting.
Feelings are part of life, part of being a child, and definitely part of parenting. Constant changes and feelings tend to emotionally deplete a parent causing them to lose their patience.
First Time Experiences
Every day your child is having what I call “first time experiences.” She finds herself in new situations with no real wisdom to deal with what’s happened. She isn’t being “bad,” not really; she just isn’t sure what to do.
All she knows is she’s been told she’s wrong, and that frustrates her because she has no idea what to do instead, and that can cause big feelings.
Today’s parents are having first time experiences, too. An adult’s life revolves around the fast pace of technology, the lack of “me” time, and the push and pull of daily parenting. Living at warp speed can cause you to feel overwhelmed from the minute you get up to the minute you go to sleep, and all those factors tend to cause lack of patience.
When a parent feels emotionally depleted and out of patience, and a child is frustrated because she’s told she’s wrong and has no idea what to do instead, parent and child usually collide and reactions occurs.
I know you’ve experienced this and are sick of losing your patience. You want a better way to handle these types of situations. You intuitively know there is a solution, but you don’t have time to search for it.
That’s what Proactive Parenting does. We share new, respectful ways to discipline, not punish, so you can regain your patience, find more “me time,” reduce the misbehavior, and actually live the dream you had of parenting your child.
I don’t believe there’s ever just one answer that works for all children, but this tip is a good place to start.
Focusing On the End—The Misbehavior
When you find yourself reacting to living life at warp speed, or losing your patience for whatever reason, or reacting to misbehavior, or an attitude, most parents tend to only zero in on the misbehavior.
The problem is the misbehavior or attitude doesn’t come out of the blue. It’s actually the end result of unexpressed feelings.
Because parents have no more patience left they tend to forget that each bit of misbehavior or attitude has its roots in feelings that have gone unnoticed, unchecked, unacknowledged. Unacknowledged or unexpressed feelings grow and grow until they blossom into misbehavior or an attitude.
So what’s a parent to do?
Rewinding the Video
A good place to begin is to “rewind the video,” as they say. No matter what misbehavior or incident has occurred, start by taking a breath. Now, and this takes a lot of self-control, skip over the incident at hand and begin talking to your child about what inspired the incident instead.
Ask your child some questions about what she was feeling at the beginning of the situation, before the incident or misbehavior, occurred.
The questions need to be asked in a genuine, loving and patience way. After the question has been asked the parent needs to be silent and wait for the child to answer.
When a child is asked a question that’s followed by silence, the pressure for someone to speak fills the room. If you say anything, you run the risk of igniting a reaction again. If you defend yourself, blame or correct your child or say, “No, it didn’t happen that way,” at this point in the discussion, she’ll probably close up. However, if you remain calm, loving and patience as your listening to whatever caused the incident, you’ll most likely be able to work toward resolving it.
Try questions like:
• “What didn’t you say after…fill in the blank…happened?”
• “What was your heart wanting to say when this happened?”
• “What made you mad?”
Resolving misbehavior this way allows you to teach your child whatever needs to be learned about the situation instead of automatically yelling, punishing or threatening.
Another benefit to handling situations like this is you’ll find that your patience has returned.
In this fast-paced-stress-filled world where things change from one minute to the next, this is a tip that will help resolve feelings – even if the feelings change every five minutes.
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and The Authentic Parent Series. Go to proactiveparenting.net to download two free chapters from her book and learn about other Proactive Parenting programs. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.