5 Ways to Exercise Patience with Children During a Family Issue

An Exercise in Patience with Children During a Family Issue

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While I believe all parents look forward to spending time with their children, holidays and vacations, while fun in nature, tend to cause additional stress. The average parent is overloaded between work, regular household obligations and their children's activities so tensions can be high on any given day, meaning they tend to have a short fuse. These issues are even more prevalent in families that are going through a divorce, child custody battle, child support case, or disagreement over the division of property and assets.

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While this particular article is geared toward parents of children who are in sports, the main principles still apply. The five ways to exercise patience that are featured can be used in our everyday lives. I strongly recommend everyone think back to these when we feel ourselves losing our patience. While we may not always be able to keep our cool and be slow to react, doing our best to be aware of our emotions is the first step in the right direction.

5 Ways to Exercise Patience

If you are a sports parent, you will lose your patience. It can’t be helped. Kids sometimes don’t try hard enough, goof off in practice and may not even seem to care about doing their best.

That might drive you crazy some days. But it’s important that you stay calm and be patient, because when you give way to your impatience and vent on your child because you think he or she is not trying hard enough, youth sports becomes more about what you want than about your child.

There is no quick fix for learning patience. However, while your child is exercising physical muscles to become a stronger athlete, you must exercise your patience muscles so that you can become a better sports parent.

After 27 years of parenting, I’m still working those patience muscles and have discovered a few exercises help calm me down.

1. Seek to understand.

Rather than being so concerned that your child is listening to you and understanding you, focus on seeking to understand your child first. Try to figure out why he is acting a certain way and why he responds like he does.

2. Be slow to speak; quick to listen.

When you listen to your kid – I mean really listen – you have a better chance of understanding her. It may mean you will have to remain quiet until she is done talking. Don’t interrupt when she is telling you something. Let her speak without interrupting to criticize, comment or correct.

3. Look at the bigger picture.

It’s not all about the lazy sports practice, the forgotten uniform or the apathetic performance. Ask yourself: What is really at stake here? Will this really matter in 10, five or even two years?

4. Think about how your words sound to your child.

If parents recorded themselves, they would probably be embarrassed or horrified. Listen in the grocery store or Target line and you’ll hear yourself in the voices of other impatient parents. How does it sound?

5. Breathe deeply and walk away if necessary.

My dad got angry. He just never took it out on me. Often, he’d send me to my room and tell me to “think about what I’d done,” then call me back in 30 minutes. What I learned later is that he was giving himself time to calm down more than he was giving me time to mull over my actions.

Whatever it takes for you to calm down, do it. Deep breathing, counting to 10, sending your child to his room, excusing yourself to be alone for a few minutes, praying. I guarantee that what you say impulsively in anger and what you say when you are calm will be two different things.

As you exercise your patience muscles, start by being patient with yourself. You won’t get all the muscles strong at once. Practice one until it becomes a habit (it will probably never be easy), then move on to the next one. Eventually, your sports parenting patience will hold up when your child seems to be doing everything he can to make you crack."

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