How does one learn to be patient with your children as they struggle to learn?
Bernice has asked the million-dollar question: how do we find patience when it comes to our children?
If you know me, then you know I have three boys, a husband and four dogs, so I have a long history of asking myself, “How can I be more patient?” I used to think that if they would “just do this” or “just do that,” then I could find more tolerance and patience. But the truth we will always come back to is that patience is about us: ourselves and how we view and react to any given situation.
Now, Bernice specifically wants to know how to find that lost virtue of patience with her child when he is struggling through the learning process. It is especially difficult with these kiddos when learning is so hard for them because they have a thinking style that allows them to be intelligent, out-of-the-box critical thinkers. At the same time, they are struggling in school and seemingly questioning everything that we suggest and all school figures of authority.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have some tools to find patience with our children in any given scenario? That is what we are talking about here. And it is actually really simple. All this stuff is simple. We parents make it complicated.
So, hold on and hear me out about this.
The reason we get annoyed, frustrated, or impatient about anything is because we have an expectation that is not being met. And, odds are, we are taking our children’s behavior personally as an assault against us.
So we have to ask ourselves, “What is the real expectation that I have for my child when he is doing _____ (homework, reading, doing his chores, getting up in the morning)?”
If your expectation is that your child with dyslexia will enjoy his homework and sit for an hour straight without asking you any questions, then you are going to lose your patience when he gets up every five minutes or continually asks you questions.
If your expectation is that he should be reading better by now and he is not, then you might lose your patience.
When I was homeschooling my son with dyslexia, I would get so upset because he could read the word “the” one day and then the next day he would read it as “and.” I thought that he just wasn’t trying hard enough. This would end up with me yelling and him crying and feeling like a failure.
But when I knew better, I did better. My expectation changed.
Learn more from Dr. Angie’s experience:
Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.”
Once my expectation changed, he still continued to have difficulties reading, but I no longer reacted with anger and impatience.
So it wasn’t him. It was me, and how I was responding to him.
When we control our own responses, it is amazing how those around us begin to change.
The other thing that I had to realize is that his crying and anger were not about me, so I was able to stop taking his behavior personally. His actions were secondary to his own feelings, core beliefs, and fears. In other words, he was doing the best he could.
With our kids, we are lucky because our core emotion or feeling towards them is love. If we go back to that place of love and what we love about them, it becomes simple to say to yourself “How can I love my child right now in this situation?”, and patience will come more easily.
I was at a conference recently where a parent asked, “How do I not get irritated with my 4 year old that wants me to play with her all day when I have things to do, like the laundry?”
The speaker from stage was great. She said, “Your little girl just wants to be with you. Spend time with you.” As this mother listened, the speaker continued, “Don’t expect her not want to be with you. Take her with you to do the laundry. Let her help. Enjoy your time with her…this time with our children isn’t forever.”
So what do you do the next time you feel impatience bubbling up regarding your child?
First: check if your expectation for the situation is reasonable and if it is not, breathe and readjust.
Dr. Miguel Ruiz states in his amazingly-relevant book, The Four Agreements, “We judge others according to our image of perfection, and naturally they fall short of our expectations.”
Second: put yourself in their shoes: empathize, feel what they are feeling. That gives you understanding; remember, “When you know better, you do better.”
Third: choose to see the situation from a place of love. Ask yourself, “What does loving my child right now look like?”
Fourth: honor who your child came here to be…not who you want them to be.
Until next time, keep it simple.
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