When kids test our patience, they’re basically doing their job as kids. They’re usually either asserting their independence, or they’re experimenting to see what will happen or what your reaction will be. It’s how they learn and grow.
Knowing that it’s normal kid behavior to push your buttons doesn’t make it less frustrating, though. Sometimes you just need to get out of the door on time, maintain basic hygiene or home maintenance standards, get your kid to stop hurtful behavior, or minimize the chaos.
We all blow up sometimes, and that’s normal too! We’re all under tremendous pressure, especially these days, and we’re only human. It’s never too late to offer a true apology and start fresh. The goal isn’t to be a perfect parent, but with some practice we can work towards more positive, patient responses to our kids’ behavior that respects where they are in their development.
When you take care to stay calm, it has enormous benefits: increased connection with your child, reduced escalation of the conflict on both sides, and even better behavior outcomes!
Here are some helpful phrases to practice:
Helpful Phrases When Your Child Is Testing Your Patience
- “I’m feeling overwhelmed, so I’m going to take a break to calm down.”
- “I’d still love to go to the park today. Can we take a deep breath and each say one thing we’re going to do to get ready to go?”
- “I wonder if you can do a magic trick and have your clothes all changed by the time I come back!”
- “I‘ll be happy to help when you ask in a polite way.”
- “I’m just going to close my eyes and listen for the sound of your toothbrush bristles.”
- “Would you like me to explain what can happen if we don’t clean up our crumbs? Or would you like to tell me?”
- “I’ve never seen anyone do it quite this way before! I’m curious to find out how it works for you.”
- “Should we do backwards trick-or-treating to clean up? Let’s collect all of the toys in this Halloween basket and then put them back in the ‘houses’ where they came from.”
- “I love it when someone stops right away when I say stop. It makes me feel very respected and like I can trust that person.”
- “I’m sorry I yelled before. I was feeling stressed that we were going to be late, but I will do my best to talk to you in a more respectful way next time.”