Being patient with children is often hard but is absolutely essential. Gentle parenting is not always as easy as it seems and can often be tested when we least expect it. It may seem easier to yell at our kids or get angry with them, but over time those moments will catch up to us in terms of how we feel about ourselves, as parents, and how our children perceive us. When raising children, it’s important to teach them patience in addition to the many other lessons you’ll want to pass on to them. An idea that is much easier said than done—at least for my household.
Being the posterchild for patience is not a quality I exemplify very well in my household, at times. Like all parents, I have a ton of stuff going on. I overcommit to things, I always think there is more time in the day, and when I feel the crunch of obligations begin to weigh down on me, the dictator starts to come out. I rarely give myself or my daughter any wiggle room for the inevitable unknowns that may arise in life, like an accident on the freeway when we are already running late. I also underestimate the time it will actually take for my daughter to accomplish a task, like simply finishing her breakfast and putting on her shoes. Being familiar with my own short comings in this arena, there is no doubt in my mind that she gets this from me.
To sum it up—through my actions, I have taught her zero time management skills, which then helps to fuel impatience in me, which I then model for her, which she then mirrors back to me…and the cycle continues. Taking accountability for the role I play in my daughter’s actions, reactions and general behavior is always my first step when trying to address undesired behavior. Children have their own temperaments, we cannot always account for everything they do, but there is a large portion of how they deal with the world that comes from us. Through the introspective process of challenging my own undesirable behavior and working on steps towards improvement, I try to keep a few key strategies at the forefront of my brain to help minimize the frequency of my impatient outbursts as we move through uncharted waters.
Strategies for Gentle Parenting
Here are five main strategies for gentle parenting I’ve learned over the years through books, research, parenting classes and from talking with the outstanding dads I spend time with every week through my Circle of Fathers group:
Create Clear Boundaries
As parents, our first priority is to keep our children safe and secure. Setting clear boundaries and expectations allows us to accomplish that while also giving them some control over their own lives and actions. When we don’t set boundaries, it doesn’t teach our children how to control themselves or be responsible for their actions. We can help kids learn about boundaries by being patient with them (no matter how challenging they may be) when they make mistakes or exhibit bad behavior.
Your baby needs structure and you need to be calm. Make sure your day-to-day routine stays consistent and that your child always knows what to expect from you. This will make it easier for him or her to follow along, know when it’s time for different activities, and feel confident in your ability to care for them on an everyday basis. We all know how quickly babies learn—so once they figure out what works best for them, they’ll stick with it!
Don’t Forget to Smile
A smile sends an unspoken message to your child, telling them you love them and that they’re safe. Maintain eye contact with your child when you speak to them. Keep as much skin-to-skin contact as possible; hug, kiss, pick up and hold your children frequently throughout each day.
You’re going to have really good days and really bad days. One day, you’ll feel like you have parenting down and other days you may feel like nothing could be more challenging. But consistency is key in gentle parenting. If you tell your child one thing today, follow through with it tomorrow. This will help instill trust in your child that they can depend on what you say to them.
Have Patience, Give Yourself Grace
Patience can be hard to come by for any parent. However, being patient with your children will be some of your greatest challenges and successes in parenting. Though it might be difficult, you must try to remain calm at all times in order to properly teach your child how to handle certain situations. It might be tempting at times, but always remember that actions speak louder than words.
About the Author
Adam N. S. Combs is a blog contributor helping to illuminate the protective factors in his family’s life by sharing his experiences as a father, military veteran and Circle of Parents facilitator through storytelling.
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