A while back, a reader asked me if I had any tips for becoming more patient with her children. She felt like she was reactive instead of proactive “in the moment”–and I can totally resonate with that!
I love my four children dearly. But I don’t always respond to their choices or behavior in the way I know I should.
They all have amazing personalities and gifts, and it’s those personality characteristics that sometimes clash with my parenting style or my own personality.
Maybe you’re reading this because you have the same struggles with being a patient mom. Despite your best intentions, it can be easy to lose your temper with your kids in the heat of the moment.
You CAN find ways to improve your patience with your young kids. Learning to be proactive rather than reactive involves learning things about yourself and your children.
Like many moms, I want to be grace-filled and more patient with my children. And although I am certainly still learning, there are some truths I’ve gleaned along the way that I’d like to share with you today if you need help in this area as well!
The good news is, there are some simple ways you can cultivate patience as a parent, even “in the moment”.
These practical tips work great when you have toddlers or other young children. And in my opinion, this advice applies if you have older children as well!
These ten ideas incorporate what the Bible says about being patient with kids and also give practical actions for specific situations to help you be more calm and patient with your child.
Ten Powerful Tips to Be More Patient with Your Child
1. Learn to identify your triggers. If you frequently lose patience and yell or speak in frustration, sit down and make a list of situations or actions that trigger your response.
You obviously want to stop yelling at your children. But sometimes it happens before you even realize what you’re doing (speaking from experience here!). Even identifying the “what” that precedes your not-so-graceful response can help you be more emotionally prepared for the next time.
2. Could it be anxiety or mental health related? Depending on your personality type and emotional/mental health, some moms are more prone to outbursts and raising their voices than others.
I really struggled with this when my four children were little, particularly during the time they were all under age 8. Everything my children did made me exasperated. I responded to them in unfair ways due to my emotional health not being in a good place.
But my response wasn’t their fault. It was my own negative emotions that needed healing. I am not a doctor, so this isn’t medical advice, but if you’re having a hard time in this area, I’d encourage you to talk to a Christian counselor or trusted mentor who can pray for you and talk through this with you.
Caring for yourself and doing things like staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and exercising help you to have less stress. Even if you’re busy, you can race (or fast walk, like me!) your kids around the block or run up and down the stairs with them! It will boost your mood almost instantly.
3. Don’t take the things your kids do personally. I read this comment in a parenting magazine many years ago. I don’t even think it was from a Christian perspective, but it stuck with me.
There are times when I think we view everything our children do as a reflection of our own abilities as a mom. When our kids are having their own tantrums, it can be tempting to have an internal tantrum of our own because our kids aren’t acting the way we feel like they should!
If you’re stuck in this mindset, it helps to remind ourselves of the truth that God has equipped us for this great task of motherhood. There is no such thing as a perfect child, but thankfully there is a perfect God who created our child and has a beautiful purpose for their life, even if there are bumps in the road along the way :)
Our children are still learning. The things we know how to do now we did not know how to do at one time. They are working through their own BIG feelings. These reminders help me to be more patient and less reactive with my children.
4. Learn to recognize the difference between childishness and foolishness. One tool that will help you be a more patient parent is to learn to distinguish between these two behaviors.
Childishness is behavior that is part of the learning process, like stepping in puddles and getting muddy or trying to climb on top of the fridge to reach the jar of animal crackers (guess how I know about that!). Foolishness happens once you’ve instructed your child on what to do or not do and they deliberately disobey.
Seeing the huge difference between these two types of actions was key to becoming more patient when my children were really little. It can keep you from having power struggles with your children when it’s completely unnecessary. Even now, with my youngest two being 8 and 11, it still helps because certainly they still struggle with disobedience and bad habits but there are other times when they just don’t know how or what to do in a situation and need grace.
5. Hear your child. This applies in a similar way to Tip #4. Sometimes your child’s behavior or whining is simply a way of saying that they need a hug or a bit of your attention.
Try this parenting tip to cut through the chaos and really listen to your child, allowing you to have a more patient response to their behavior.
6. Ask the Holy Spirit to tame your tongue. Of all the things I tried to get my responses under control, this was the one that worked best. I had to ask the Spirit to prick my conscience when I was about to say or yell something I shouldn’t.
This took a LOT of time and also had to do with learning not to raise my voice when I was frustrated but to physically change my voice volume and tone of voice to be calmer when I spoke into frustrating circumstances. Doing this is a simple, good start that will go a long way toward the goal of calm parenting.
7. When you’re in the moment, sometimes you don’t even realize what you’re saying until after you’ve said it. Perhaps you’ve had a bad day, and it’s easy to let your own emotions lose. Try to prepare yourself with some simple responses to the most common situations you encounter as a mom.
8. Ask the Lord to help you be more thoughtful as a parent. James 1:19-20 instructs us in this way: “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
Being more thoughtful involves actions like giving explanations to our children as they get a little older as to WHY we want them to do something, rather than just “bossing” them around. And believe me, it’s easy to do that. I still have a hard time with this after being a mom for 16 years.
When we explain things to our children, the benefit is that they will understand the reason behind our instructions and can make better choices to listen and obey.
Take time at the end of the day to pray with your child about something specific that concerns them (or that you’re concerned about if they’re too little to communicate their own feelings).
Being thoughtful also involves being a role model to our children…and that is a good thing. It’s challenging but…thankfully, later on in James, we’re also reminded that God will help us in this.
James 5:11b says, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” He really does want to help us to be more patient with our kids and is full of mercy when we make mistakes.
9. Stop being so busy and focus on your kids. When we’re distracted, it is easier to just order our kids around or have outbursts because we’re reacting to a situation we’re really not paying attention to. Rather than always running around and not truly spending quality time with our children, let’s make sure we’re responding to our child’s own needs.
For me, the best way I’ve found to focus on my children is putting my phone in an inconvenient place so that I stay off social media. At times, it also means taking time to address bad behavior even when I’m in the middle of making supper.
For you, this may mean something else! There are a lot of effective ways you can make that conscious decision to take steps to be better focused on what’s going on with your children in the moment.
Think of parenting from a long-term, eternal perspective: small acts and choices adding up to a better atmosphere and relationship with your kids over time.
10. Keep remembering that you are a work in progress and continue to ask God’s and your children’s forgiveness.
There are times outbursts and frustrated talking toward your kids will still happen. Having victory over our own anger or frustration doesn’t always happen immediately.
Use this time to make a meaningful connection and talk to them about how you are being worked on by Jesus too, using verses such as 1 John 1:9 and Ephesians 4:2 to speak truth over your family!
On a daily basis, it might feel like you’re not making any progress. The important thing is that you recognize that you want to change and that you draw close to the great God who provides compassion and grace for each moment.
How do you pray for patience with children?
Here’s a prayer for you as a mom:
Lord, thank you for the blessing of my children. Thank you for their unique personalities, gifts, and talents. Thank you that you’ve entrusted me with mothering these children. I confess that I struggle in the moment and get frustrated and angry when I know I shouldn’t. Forgive me. Give me the grace and mercy I need so I can show my children that same grace. Let your Holy Spirit work in my life to guide and instruct me and help me keep my tongue under control. Give me great patience, just as you are patient with me. Make me aware of situations where I can stop and teach my kids, rather than just react to their behavior. Help us to have fun as a family and to always look to your Word for wisdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Parenting book recommendation:
Parenting by Paul David Tripp
This book is not a “do this and you’ll get that result” type of book, but more of a mindset-shift style of writing that helps you as a Christian parent to reflect scripturally on how Jesus enables you to raise your children with grace, love, and patience.
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