Friday, February 29, 2008

Thoughts on Patience...

I know I haven't done this in a few weeks. But it is time for another edition of Parents University. This weeks topic is practicing patience. Please head on over to The Secret Life of Kat to read some other great blogs on this subject!

When I first read the topic for this week my initial thought was patience and toddler do not go together! Which I'm sure many of you can attest to. I don't think a two-year-old really has the capacity to grasp, or the physiological ability to be patient since they are still in a self-centered universe where they believe everything revolves around them and thus they want everything NOW (aren't we all still like this to some extent?).

In light of this, I decided I would focus on parental patience.

I believe patience is a learned art. It's something we must strive for each and everyday.

Especially when we are dealing with our children.

This is a hard lesson to learn. I think even more so because we live in America. It's hard to really develop our patience levels when our lives are filled with instant gratification. It's very easy to get into the habit of wanting everything done right now. A lot of things in our culture contribute to this: credit cards, and the Internet are prime examples. Instead of saving up for something we want, we go out and get it the second we want it, charge it to our credit card and pay it off for a few years with tons of interest. And how many of us have sat staring at our computer screen frustrated because the website we want to look at is taking more than 1 second to open?

So what are we as Americans and parents to do in this "get what you want now" society?

My suggestion would be to slow down. Look at your schedule. How many of the things you do really matter?

I believe that leading a slower, simpler life really gives a good environment for patience to develop. When we are rushing here and there everyday it's easy to get into the habit of wanting everything to happen immediately. Because if it didn't we would have to slow down and wait, and when our schedules are too full we have no time for the waiting.

Ah, but what we miss. There are so many lessons to learn in the times of waiting. Waiting gives us an opportunity to learn about ourselves, and our lives. Waiting is a great time to really look at your life and question your priorities.

I think our children are the ones who suffer most (apart from ourselves) when we have no time for patience in our lives. Children learn by example. We must show them with our own lives what patience looks like. We must teach them about waiting for those things we want and not believing that we deserve to have those things right now.

It is hard to be patient with our children whether it be in discipline or development when other areas of our lives are greatly lacking patience. I believe patience must permeate every facet of our lives.

Now the question is how do I practice patience with my child?

The best lesson I have learned in Blue-Eyed Boy's wonderful two- year- oldness to help me be patient is to watch my expectations.

What I mean by this is that I must not expect more of him than he is developmentally ready to do. He's two years old, he's learning and establishing his independence. I cannot expect him to always listen to everything I say. This does not mean however that I throw in the towel and let him do whatever he wants. It just means that I know I'm going to have to tell him to do something a few times before he will, and sometimes he still won't and must be disciplined for that.

I guess it's just mostly keeping in mind where he is. I don't mean physically. I mean is it getting close to nap time? Then I can expect some grumpiness and tantrums. Have I been too busy to pay attention to him for awhile? Then he's going to test me and act up to get my attention.

I've observed that Blue-Eyed Boy never "acts up" or "tries my patience" for no reason. There is always a reason. He's either tired, or hungry, or needing attention. I've found that he generally wants to please me. He would definitely rather receive my praise rather than my anger. This also applies to myself. If I'm tired, or hungry or needing attention I'm going to be less patient than I normally would/could be. I being the adult, however, must rise above this and resolve even harder to be patient.

Another "patient helper" is thinking before you react.

Before Handsome Hunk and I got married my mother-in-law gave me some wonderful advice. She said that when we get in a fight to always think--"will this matter in five years?". If it won't--let it go.

So, the next time your toddler throws a bowl of cereal on the floor, or empties all the clothes out of your dresser--and all you want to do is scream--ask yourself:

Will this really matter in five years?

If not.......let it go and give that amazing little person some of your precious patience.

So, those are my thoughts on patience. Don't forget to head on over to The Secret Life of Kat and read what others more wise than I have to say about patience.


The Secret Life of Kat said...

Great post Jessica!

I've been in the process of trying to slow my life down a bit. Actually a lot. I've eliminated a number of responsibilities and hobbies because, with 3 kids, I just don't have time for everything.

It's really helped me to improve my ability to be patient.

I also like what you said about asking yourself if "this will matter in 5 years." I think I tend to be a hyper focused person and I can get too bent out of shape about one small confrontation with my kids. I need to be better at letting things slide.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

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