During the summer vacation season, you may be spending more time with your child than usual and finding yourself having moments of impatience and stress. You may be frustrated about your child not putting away toys, whining about being bored with nothing to do, or just procrastinating when it’s time to get dressed and out the door. It’s normal for parents to lose their patience from time to time while juggling a myriad of responsibilities and commitments, both inside and outside the home.
However, there’s good news. Through the power of mindfulness, there are constructive ways for you to manage feelings of impatience and frustration in a positive, helpful manner that benefits you and your child.
Be Mindful–Be Present in the Moment
What does it mean to be mindful? Mindfulness means being aware and accepting of your present mental state and taking control of your feelings, thoughts, environment and actions in a calm, thoughtful manner. Being present in the moment gives you time to acknowledge your feelings, relax and act appropriately to best serve yourself and the needs of your family peacefully. In other words, “be there in the present” and “think before you speak or act.”
While mindfulness originated in Buddhist meditation, much research in mindfulness over the last decade in the U.S. has proven the powerful physical and emotional benefits of practicing mindfulness. Staying present in your mind without rehashing past events or worrying about future incidents helps contain negative feelings and actions. You can focus on your child fully to understand and experience the current situation, reduce conflict, and then solve problems calmly.
Here are some practical ways to help be mindful in your daily life.
Breathe Deep–Maintain Control
One of the best ways to keep control of your emotions and avoid losing your temper is to take deep breaths and purposely focus on your breathing. The exercise will help calm you and nurture patience. The goal is to avoid reacting quickly in an angry, abrupt manner. Just those few moments of reflection can ground you, helping to avoid an upsetting, unnecessary situation for you and your child.
When your child forgets to put away toys or leave his/her bike in the yard rather than put it away, stay calm and avoid scolding. Instead, ask your child why the toys or bike were left in the yard. Listen to your child’s response, maybe there was a good reason. With a kind and firm attitude, engage in constructive conversation about agreements for how you want to live in an organized home, where everything has its place. Explain that putting away toys is part of every family member’s responsibility and reinforce the times when your child is helpful in putting belongings away and how that makes everyone happy. You’ll help build your child’s self-esteem.
Allow Yourself and Your Child to Enjoy Quiet Time
Everyone needs a little time out, maybe it’s only a few minutes or an hour a day. If you or your child are feeling frustrated with each other, you can both agree to walk away and find a peaceful, calm place to spend some time alone to think about solutions or just let your mind wander. Allowing your child to have quiet time provides the opportunity to explore their imagination and come up with their own ideas. Again, contributing solutions helps build your child’s self-awareness and self-esteem.
Exercise and Have Fun Together
One of the best ways to relieve stress is to exercise it out—walk, run, dance, swim, toss a ball, do yoga, lift weights, or just stretch. Let your child know you love being with them—no matter what you’re doing. You can make exercise a routine that you share with your child a few times a week. You will give them loving, lifelong lessons and memories that will lift your spirits for a lifetime.