Photo: Chirag B Patel

 

It’s bedtime and there’s a crying baby, another request for a drink, or your teenager talking back. When our stress level is high, even the small things our kids do or want us to do for them can wear on our patience. In my work as a mindful mama coach, I have discovered four things you can do starting today that will bring you more patience when dealing with your kids.

Stay silent for 90 seconds. Have you observed a child’s temper tantrum? They get upset, go into complete meltdown mode, slam things, throw things, yell and scream, and then slide back to normal in a matter of minutes—if you let them.  The lifespan of an emotion is a matter of seconds, 90 seconds to be exact! If your usual tendency is to interrupt your child’s emotional tantrum, you’re likely to see a rise in emotional intensity between both of you. Instead of reacting in the middle of the emotional rollercoaster, try pausing until your child gets off the ride. This isn’t to let them off the hook for bad behavior; it’s allowing the emotions to settle before dealing with the real issue at hand.

All around us, people are having emotions. Like contractions during birth, there are intervals of build up, plateau and coming back down. If you and your child both react within the 90 seconds, the emotions will not subside but be fueled and intensify. This is when you end up saying hurtful things in the midst of rage, which nobody wants to end up doing. When you feel yourself being triggered or notice it in your child, take a vow of silence for 90 seconds. You can do this! Just as you did in labor, time yourself as though your energy depended on it. Don’t say anything outwardly or inwardly; don’t listen to the thoughts in your mind. Just be silent.

Smile. One morning we were running late for my son’s school. I was frantically getting ready while my son randomly hit a container on the dining room table, sending sliced almonds all over the floor. In that moment as I saw all the almond pieces spread across the floor, I decided this was a great opportunity to teach him it was okay to make a mistake. Knowing he was waiting to see my reaction, I looked in his eyes, smiled and said, “Uh-oh. Let’s clean up the mess.” I felt the feelings of frustration ease off me as I gave into a patient teaching moment. Believe me, I didn’t LOVE having to clean up those almonds when we were already late! But when I accepted it and smiled through it, I not only kept my temper at bay, I didn’t ruin our morning with tears.

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When you feel the frustration welling up to the point where it’s almost out of control, try using that last bit of reserve to smile. It can turn your situation around—for you and your child.

Tell your kids how you’re feeling. “I’m losing my patience,” are some effective words I’ve uttered as a parent. It’s a warning to both of us that things are not going well, and we need to make some changes. If we don’t recognize how we are feeling, we can end up sweeping emotions under the rug and suddenly lose our cool.

By you speaking out how you are feeling at the moment of contention, just saying the words can be an outlet for your emotions, and you can regain control.  You don’t have to stay in that emotion as you regain patience.

Mindful breathing reset. A slow intake of oxygen can help you relax and restore perspective and balance when you are feeling tension. Yogi Bhajan the Kundalini Master taught us a breath to use when we feel impatience. Breathe in through your mouth (like sipping through a straw) and out through your nose. When you do this, you bring more oxygen into your body, cool yourself, and, since you are breathing in a different way, you consciously get out of your mind and focus on breathing. The best part is, throughout this breathing exercise, you can practice your vow of 90-second silence!

The secret to building our patience muscle is remembering it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. So be gentle, be present and just breathe…