How to become a better and more patient mom with your kids. Life with children is unpredictable, but these awesome suggestions help parents to be more fun and less angry.
"I am very angry with you right now!" I snapped at 4-year-old Allie as she sat on the potty at Chick-Fil-A.
"Well, Mommeeeee," she began, matter of fact as always. "I just can't eat those chicken nuggets. I don't like chicken nuggets. I don't eat them ever." (Which was, in fact, NOT TRUE since she asked for CHICKEN NUGGETS when we got home from our errands.)
"You only have to eat one nugget. Just one. Now get done on the potty so we can get back out to Gracie."
"I have a little poop that needs to come out," she replied. "I can't hurry my poops."
I sighed a loud, irritated sigh. I had spent 15 minutes cajoling Allie to eat one nugget when she realized it was an emergency that she get to the potty RIGHT NOW. We left 7-year-old Grace at the table, cleaning up the remnants of her lunch, when we ran to the restroom.
Allie, of course, neither peed nor pooped when we got her situated on the toilet.
There was a lady in the stall next to us, and if I had been in her shoes, I would have been silently judging the mom losing her patience with her child.
I was at the end of my rope. I had a big surprise planned for the kids (indoor trampoline park!), but I told Allie she had to eat one nugget before she could get to the surprise.
Grace was upset and afraid the surprise would disappear. Allie was clearly enjoying her sense of power over the whole deal.
It's easy to be patient when your child is well-behaved. I am Mother Theresa at those times.
It's the times when they're intentionally helpless, dawdling, making a big mess, or throwing a tantrum when it's hard for us to be patient - and when they need us most to be.
So how do I keep it together when I feel like throwing a fit myself?
How to Become a More Patient Mom
- Use positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are like little whispers from God that I see periodically throughout my day. They are pretty cards with uplifting messages on them, and I tape them to my bathroom mirror, computer monitor, refrigerator, and other places I'll see throughout the day. Even though affirmations have a new age-y reputation, they are wonderful for Christians who want to infuse their lives with the Word. This set of positive affirmations for Christian moms and these positive affirmations for Christians with anxiety have both been really helpful for me.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. -Philippians 4:8
- Get enough sleep. I am at my worst when I am sleep deprived; I snap at everyone in sight. It's nearly impossible to be patient and calm when your nerves are tired and frazzled. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep may seem like an unattainable luxury, but if you juggle your schedule around and are willing to let some things slide now and then, you can probably figure out a way to make it happen. Make it a priority.
If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. -Proverbs 3:24
- Get some exercise. Exercise is really underrated. It helps when you're angry, when you're stressed, when you're anxious, and when you're depressed. Exercise releases endorphins and makes you feel good. Before you allow yourself to make excuses (like I don't have time and the gym isn't open and what do I do with the kids while I'm exercising?), do a little problem solving. Just about anyone can throw her kids in a stroller and take them for a walk around the block. If they're old enough, make them walk alongside you. If they're really old, leave them at home while you walk. The point is not the kind of exercise that you're doing; the point is that you are moving your body and getting a little sweaty. You will feel better for the whole rest of the day, and that will lead you to be more patient with everyone, including your kids.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- Pray. When you're feeling like you might lose your patience, say a prayer. Ask God for strength and patience in dealing with your children with love and kindness. If all you can manage is Help me Jesus or I need help Jesus! then go with that. It's good enough, and He will help.
Pray without ceasing. -1 Thessalonians 5:17
- See things from their perspective. I have no idea why Allie wouldn't eat her nuggets. I think perhaps she genuinely doesn't like Chick-Fil-A nuggets (which is a real shame since I could live on Chick-Fil-A sauce myself). I think perhaps she was a little constipated, making her feel like she had to go to the bathroom even though she couldn't go. I also think her little 4-year-old ego was enjoying a big dose of power over her mother and sister.
The point is that there's always another side to the story. Perhaps there's a cool bug preventing her from walking to the car. Perhaps her coat is rubbing her chin, preventing her from getting it zipped up. Or her shoelaces are tied in a knot. (Notice how most of my examples involve getting out the door on time? Is anyone else chronically running behind?)
And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. -2 Timothy 2:24-25a
- Keep your cool. Part of patience is keeping yourself from having a tantrum of your own. So you're going to be late. So your child spilled her hot dog slices all over the floor. (That happened about an hour ago.) So she's whining. Again. So they were wrestling and someone got hurt. Deal with the situation in the best way you can without yelling or stomping your feet.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. -Proverbs 15:1
- Be kind. Treat your kids the way you want to be treated, with love and kindness and without snark and anger. Easier said than done, I know, but save the eye rolls, the whining (you know, Come on! and Stop it!), and the snapping (I said do it RIGHT NOW!) for your journal. Treat your kids as kindly as you treat your boss or a stranger on the street.
So in everything, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. -Matthew 7:12
- Enlist your kids. When you're not feeling frazzled, talk to your kids about how you want to be more patient. Explain that you want to be a better mom, and ask them to tell you when you're about to lost your patience. Accept their reminders with grace and take the opportunity to calm down.
Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. -James 5:20
- Spend one on one time with every kid every day. This time is so important in many ways, but it will really strengthen the bond you have with each of your kids. Kids who feel bonded to their mom are less likely to misbehave because they feel important and loved. Kids who don't misbehave are less likely to provoke you to lose your temper.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. -Jeremiah 31:3
- Take a break. When all else fails, get away from the situation for a few minutes. Taking a 5 or 10 minute time out is bound to give you a new perspective on the whole thing. Don't be afraid to tell your kids that you need a time out to cool off. They will understand, even if they're little.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28
Patience isn't an all or nothing thing. If you can put just one of these tips into practice, you will be more patient tomorrow than you were yesterday, and that is progress. When you get good at one, try a second one. You can baby step your way to being a patient mom. I believe in you.