Find More Patience to Ditch the YellingOct 25, 2021
If I haven't said it enough, parenting is HARD. We are doing a million different things all while being the best version of ourselves. Cook healthy meals, keep up with house work, spend time with our children, spend time with our spouse, get enough sleep, drink lots of water, exercise, Oh! and also don't forget how important it is to get that time to yourself. It is exhausting. Even without doing any of these things we are always running the lists through our head. When all of these things add up something has to go, and more often than not it's our patience.
When I think about how it feels to lose my patience I find there are many similarities to how it feels when I lose control. Think about the reasons you lose your patience. I know for me, most of the time it is centered around someone *cough* my children *cough* not "listening" to me, or feeling annoyed by their behaviour in some way. I cannot make my children listen to me anymore than I can control their unwanted behaviours. Losing MY patience over behaviour I cannot control gives my children great power. A power that should only belong to me. Let's take back control and find more patience!
Being "impatient" is obviously very subjective. For one parent that might look like bursting into tears and hiding in the bathroom and for another it might look like snapping and yelling at your children. While both of these examples are unpleasant, yelling has the most lasting effects on our children.
The more we yell at our children the more we are conditioning them to only respond to our requests once we "lose of patience" and yell. They learn that they can tune us out the other 10 times because they only really need to listen when we lose it. I can't help but think about what kind of person I want to my children to be as they grow up and what kind of relationship I want us to have. Most parents have similar goals. We want our children to come to us no matter what, we want them to grow up and be able to self-regulate, and we want them to be well-rounded human beings. Yelling and losing control of my emotions only models the polar opposite.
I know, easier said than done. Yelling is addicting because it works. In the short-term it will most likely stop the unwanted behaviour, but in the long-term it has lasting negative effects that parents are trying to avoid. Behaviours like hiding when they have made a mistake for fear of being yelled at, lashing out when they are angry (monkey see, monkey do), and it is known to fuels depression, anxiety and low self-esteem among other things.
So how can WE stay in control of our patience and ditch the urge to yell?
1. Pay attention.
What behaviours are causing you to feel out of control? What time in the day do you feel you start to lose control of your patience? Is it a behaviour you can control?
Usually parents "lose their patience" when their children are not "listening". Think about what you are asking of your children and how you are asking.
- Is it age appropriate?
- Were you respectful and calm?
- Did you make a connection before commanding?
- Did you get eye contact?
Think about how you would like to be spoken to by your boss or spouse and reciprocate that onto your children. For example instead of shouting from the kitchen "TV off it's dinner time.", walk up to your child and try "Wow, you are enjoying this show. It is dinner time, time to turn off the TV, I want to hear all about your show at dinner!
If you have done all of these things and your children are still struggling, think about what else may be going on for them. Did they have a bad day? Are they hungry? Are they tired? You may not have any of these answers but just acknowledging that one of them may be true will give you enough compassion to stay in control of your patience.
2. Walk away (when appropriate).
Sometimes we can do and say all the right things and it still is not going to go the way we expect. In the moments before your patience is lost, when the energy is high and no one is using their frontal lobes, walk away. Take at least three deep, long breaths. Find a mantra and repeat, repeat, repeat! Try "I am in control of my emotions."
3. State it once and follow through.
Instead of falling into the trap of asking ten times and eventually yelling, make a statement ONCE. Be clear and respectful, connect, and get eye contact whenever possible. Once you have accounted for all of these steps give your child some space (30 seconds) to process and respond. If they are still struggling, calmly and respectfully assist them in the follow through. For example, imagine it is dinner time and you would like them to turn the TV off. With eye contact state "Wow, it looks like you are enjoying this show. It is dinner time now, I need you to turn the TV off now." Give space for them to process then "I can see you are struggling to turn it off. Would you like me to turn it off for you."
Obviously this will most definitely present push back and probably a tantrum or two. However they have learned that when you say something you mean it and you will always follow through. The tantrums will not happen forever, I promise. It may seem as though this actually requires more energy then being a broken record and defaulting to yelling, but in actuality you will become more confident in your follow through, less guilty about your reaction (no yelling), and create better connections with your children.
It is definitely not easy! Again, parenting is HARD before having lost your patience. Take deep breaths, pay attention to what you CAN control, and follow through.
If you are looking for more support finding more patience, I support exhausted parents of children aged 1 to 10 find more patience and joy in the GREAT side of parenting. I do this by guiding parents through the G.R.E.A.T. Parenting Journey and a GREAT Parenting Membership. Click here to reach out!
You got this!