Recently, I snapped at my son, impatient with his whiny attitude. My unkind tone invoked tears. Annoyed, I went on to tell him how whining hurt my ears. Now sobbing, he cried, “Stop talking, mom”.
His words stung. They were all he could utter to express his hurt feelings. Convicted, his tears broke my heart.
Correcting his attitude was appropriate, but not with such blatant insensitivity. My tone rendered my words ineffective and left me needing to apologize.
What was wrong with me? Obviously, my child cried and did not feel JOY when I spoke to him like that.
Most days, I follow simple steps to address discipline. Sticking to the plan usually keeps me calm regardless of the offense. SOME days, I have seemingly never-ending patience.
But there are too many days where a trivial offense is met with an unwarranted impatience. Frustrated when my child can’t wait just ONE MINUTE for that glass of water, I raise my voice. I hold a simple child responsible for impatience with me as I respond with an even worse attitude. Nice example. Seriously. I. KNOW. BETTER.
Never mind their attitude…What about mine?
My kids do not have thick skin. My impatience wounds them. It teaches them that a short-fuse is OK and that they don’t need to extend grace to others. It derails a teachable moment. Now I need to comfort them for my behavior. I could have just corrected them calmly and we’d be onto something else. I’m ashamed to say it happens all too often and I am sick and tired of failing. I don’t want to hurt my child’s feelings with my careless impatience.
I am impatient for patience.
I never decide to be impatient; it happens without thinking. I’ve often said loosely that I’m trying to be more patient. Truth is, I wasn’t actually DOING anything to equip for next time.
Making patience my natural response requires awareness and focus on changing my behavior. In recent months, I have been making a concerted effort to develop patterns that promote patience.
Here are 5 tools to improve patience:
- Pray for it. EVERY. DAY. Take a deep breath and pray again. My son notices when I pause to pray before responding. Sometimes it changes his behavior before I even speak. We then have the opportunity to talk about how we need to be patient with each other because God is patient with us.
- Learn scripture and recite it. Impatience stems from my selfishness. Recalling scripture takes the focus off me and points to the Lord. I’ve been reciting Galatians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:12 and James 1:19.
- Speak softly. And I don’t mean YELL in a whisper. This is hard. It makes me choose my words and tone. Discipline spoken softly but firmly evokes a better response from my kids. My son is VERY sensitive. My raised voice only escalates his emotions and the situation unnecessarily.
- Take notice. Acknowledge impatience when it happens. Apologize. Ask forgiveness. Teach children to do the same when they are impatient. Be aware of situations that trigger habitual impatience; these situations require intentional practice.
- Practice gratitude. Gratefulness generates patience because I focus on what I am blessed to already have instead of what I think I deserve.
I’ll be honest. Even with my efforts, patience is still a daily (sometimes every-minute) struggle. This post focuses on my children, but impatience also happens towards my husband, bad drivers and plenty of others in addition to my children. I know I will never be perfectly patient, but it is my desire that patience would become my instinctive response. I know one thing for certain, I am willing to do the work. My family is worth it.