I’m not a parenting expert. Not by a long shot. Like most of us, I’m mostly winging it. Sometimes I’m proud of how I handle situations with my two boys, sometimes I’m not. But as with all things in parenting, I’m a firm believer that when you find something that works, you share it–just in case it might help someone else too.
I invented this little trick a few years ago for those situations when I’m waiting for my kids to do something and I’m THISCLOSE to completely losing my patience–when I’m standing in the rain with the car door open, waiting for my seven year old to hop out and he’s suddenly discovered something completely fascinating on the booster seat, when I’ve already said calmly and cheerfully “Time to hop out!” and then “C’mon let’s go!” and I’m ready to blow my top.
Here’s what I do: I count.
I know this sounds like an old, boring trick you’ve heard before–but bear with me.
When I’m ready to snap, I count slowly to five (one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi, four-Mississippi, five-Mississippi). If I get to five-Mississippi and nobody has made a move toward getting their shoes on/getting out of the car/handing me the remote, I give myself permission to raise my voice and be impatient. But more often than not–and by that I mean 95 percent of the time–I don’t have to. Because either those five extra seconds are what my kids needed or I’ve calmed down enough while focusing on those Mississippi’s that I don’t need to (or want to) snap.
And here’s what I figure: If I can’t give someone just five more seconds, the problem is ME–not them.
I also use this trick with strangers, like when the person in front of me in line at Target is taking A MILLION YEARS checking out. I start counting slowly (Mississippi-style). Not only does it give me a much-needed distraction in a moment of frustration, but it also sheds light on the reality of the situation. And the reality is that A MILLION YEARS is usually more like 30 seconds. How can I get angry at someone over 30 measly seconds?
Do YOU have any great tricks for having more patience with your kids (or random people at Target)?