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Delia Lloyd

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5 Ways to Be Less Impatient With Your Kids (PHOTOS)

Posted: 07/27/10 08:00 AM ET

Last week, I offered suggestions for how not to over-parent. This week I address a different parenting dilemma: how not to lose patience with your kids.

Because we've all been there, right? Those ready-to-pull-your-hair-out moments are the very stuff of raising children. Your daughter won't eat a thing at dinner. Your son refuses to practice the piano. She won't wear anything in her closet. He's chronically late. As parents, sometimes we're tempted to throw our hands up in despair and just ... scream.

In our household, the latest please-don't-let-me-strangle-you issue is bedtime. I recently read about a study which found that what matters when putting your kids to bed isn't so much what you do (e.g. nursing, telling a story, reading a book) as how you do it. When the mother did those actions while feeling warm and positive, the baby slept well, on average; when the same types of things were done by a mom who was irritable or brusque or distracted, the children were more likely to sleep poorly.

But lately, because my kids have had some trouble adjusting to the new house ... the heat ... the sunlight ... the everything, they haven't been going to bed easily. Which has made me, well, "irritable and brusque" might be putting it mildly.

That's not the parent I want to be. So here are five strategies for not losing patience with your kids when they aren't doing what you want:

Tell Yourself It's A Vacation
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When you're on vacation, anything goes. You stay up late. You lie in bed. You read novels and eat tons of food. The normal rules don't apply. That's precisely what makes it a vacation. Lately, I've tried employing the same strategy when my kids won't go to bed on time. Even though they're still in school (British schools have a different holiday schedule than American ones) I tell myself that they're already out of school so that I don't get tense when they're up past their bedtime. Because if we're already on vacation, who cares if they're up late? (I used the same strategy when I took a week off of blogging to send my novel out to agents. I treated the week "off" sort of like a sick day so that I wouldn't feel guilty about not blogging.) The idea is that by changing your expectations, you change your behavior.
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How about you? What strategies work for you when you want to be less impatient with your kids?

 

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