When Things Pile On: The Importance of Patience
A few days ago, I really had a “Monday-Thursday.”
My daughter dropped her two kids off at my house by 6:45 in the morning because she needed help taking them to school. Of course, I readily agreed, and the girls played quietly while I finished getting ready for work. At the time I had determined we should leave for school, I delayed – giving them about five more minutes to enjoy their time before loading the car. This is normally not a problem because we live about ten minutes from the school building.
Today, however, was different. When the girls hopped in the car, the oldest exclaimed that she couldn’t see to buckle her seatbelt. Sure enough…the dome light in the car wasn’t coming on. Those of us who have driven for any length of time realize what happened – the battery was dead.
What made this particularly tricky was that I drive a hybrid, so “jumping” the car wasn’t an option. And, when my hybrid’s battery is dead, you cannot open the trunk. Yep, can…not…open…the…trunk. Guess where my work laptop was already stowed safely away? So, I borrowed my mother-in-law’s car, switched the car seats, loaded the girls, and then crawled through the backseat of my car into the trunk, to retrieve what I needed for work.
Somehow we managed to arrive to school on time, and I made it to work. However, by that time, my “patience tank” was on empty.
Have you ever been there? Most of us have. When things keep piling on to an already bad day, our demeanor, energy level, and confidence plummet and we risk exhibiting behaviors we won’t be proud of.
When it Happens to the Littles
Well, as hard as it is to remember, the same thing can happen to our children. What may seem like a string of trivial occurrences to us can drain their little patience tanks, leaving them empty, frustrated, tired, and on edge. And we all know what could happen next – an epic meltdown.
So, what are some things you, as a parent, teacher, or other family member can do when you notice your child getting ready to tip over the edge and lose their patience?
- Take a breath, yourself. It can be very upsetting to see your child on the verge of a meltdown. The knee-jerk reaction may be to become angry or upset, or even threaten them, saying “If you don’t stop this right now…” If you lose your cool, you won’t be able to help them regain theirs.
- Ask your child to take a pause, breathe, and then use their words to talk about what is frustrating them. By verbalizing, kids get the chance to begin to work through what happened and realize that it really isn’t the end of the world. Also, when you take the time to listen to them, you communicate you value them and respect their feelings.
- Together, hit the reset button. Talk about ways that you can start over and reduce the impact of the frustrating event.
If you take the time necessary to work through difficult situations, not only will you be prouder of your choices and actions, but your children will learn an important life lesson – one that will help them be happier and healthier for the long haul.