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Episode 39: The #1 Thing That Helps Me Stay Patient with my Kid

When kids are having a tough time, they don't come to us and calmly say, "I am struggling and could use some assistance." They melt down, they sass . . . basically, they push every button we have. Today, I'm talking about the #1 way I've been able to maintain patience through some of the hardest times ever.

[00:00:00] Hello, friends! This morning, let's talk a little bit about how to maintain patience with our kids. Because let's be real: Parenthood is difficult sometimes, especially when our kids are having a rough time. Our kids don't come to us and say, "mother, I'm having a difficult time right now, and I would like some assistance." No. They melt down. They are sassy. They dig their heels in and refuse to do stuff. They cry. They test your patience in every possible way.

[00:00:40] And, you know, I have dealt with a lot of difficult external circumstances in my motherhood that have been difficult on me and also difficult on my daughter. And as a result, in the middle of something that I'm struggling with, she's also struggling, which is a recipe for even more stress . . . Because on top of dealing with my own stuff, I'm now dealing with a child who's falling apart and melting down and pushing every button I have.

[00:01:16] I remember when we were maybe a year out from my divorce, and my daughter was really struggling in being separated from me in any way. It didn't matter whether it was, you know, going to daycare or it was going to sleep at night. She was not having it. She was about three years old, and I remember laying in her room at bedtime at like seven p.m. and she had to literally be on TOP of me in order to fall asleep.

[00:02:01] And I was exhausted after working a long day and commuting an hour each way. And I would fall asleep at 7:00 p.m. every day and then wake up at 4:00 in the morning and not be able to go back to sleep. So it was a really rough time of exhaustion. And exhaustions makes literally everything 90 times harder.

[00:02:30] So I remember I was laying in her room and she had to be on top of me. And if I even moved a muscle, she would jerk awake. It was incredibly tough. It was hard for me because I was so tired AND it was really hard to watch her struggle that much.

[00:02:53] So what I want to talk about today is how to have patience for our kids when they are testing every thing, when they are pushing every button we have, when they are unable to take care of themselves even a little bit.

[00:03:16] The number one way that I have survived everything from her colic when she was first born, all the way up through having cancer and everything being super difficult was EMPATHY.

[00:03:54] I know that that might sound like, "what are you even talking about?" But I always tried — and I didn't always succeed, but I always tried - to put myself in her shoes and understand that she was having a difficult time and she did not have the ability to come to me calmly like an adult and say, "Mother, I'm having a difficult time and I need assistance." Instead, she was melting down because that was the only way, as a child, she could express herself. It's not something that she was doing to make me miserable. It was the only way that she was able to communicate that she needed help.

[00:04:39] And to really put myself in her shoes and say,"how hard must it be to be three years old, to have no context in life and to have everything falling apart? How difficult must it be to have one person that you trust, and then that person is leaving you alone in a dark room and you wake up in the middle of the night and it's scary and you don't know where anything is?" And, you know, that's really hard. That's pretty rough, when you think about it. And the empathy that I was able to have for her really made it so that I showed up for her and I was able to do just a crazy amount of problem-solving . . . Because I really felt for the fact that things were difficult for her.

[00:05:35] And I tried to de-center myself and not make it about me. Because the moment I made it about me and how hard it was for me, I was just like... There's like no point in even trying anything because... How do you solve for the fact that you're miserable and the situation is completely out of your control?

[00:05:59] So by having empathy for my daughter and how difficult things were for her, I focused on helping her through HER stuff. And then it eventually got easier for me. Losing patience with her when she was having difficulties never helped anything. There were times when I had to lock myself in my bedroom, let's be real, while she was crying. That's not the best mothering possible, but it also was complete self-preservation - because everybody loses their patience. And if if you have to remove yourself from the situation, remove yourself from the situation.

[00:06:41] But always trying to get back to that place of, "she is not doing this on purpose. She's not doing this to make me upset. She's doing this because this is her only way of communicating and she's having a really hard time."

[00:06:56] So I don't know if this will help you maintain your patience with your kids. But trying to keep that top of mind always helped me. So I hope it helps you, too. And I hope you have a wonderful day.