Dinosaur Mom

I have a confession to make.  I have previously shared that patience is not my best skill.  When I get out of the zen zone, it follows a predictable pattern of 1) impatience 2) authoritarian dictator-like yelling (“hurry up and finish eating” and “get your shoes on” being the most common phrases and 3) sarcasm (which is not helpful with, for example, a two year old).  I am not proud of this behavior.  My kids have given it a name: Dinosaur Mom.  I pray every day to have more patience with my kids.  I succeed and I fail.  I apologize.  Most days are pretty good but there can be a string of not so good ones every now and again.

I’d like to thank all the wonderful elementary and preK teachers who have taught my children and implemented positive behavioral supports such as a green-yellow-red light or pull a card systems.  These systems have varied by teacher but basically they’re intended to help kids self-monitor.  You’re on green…keep it up.  You lost your warning cube…let’s turn this day around.  Pulled your red card…parent phone call.  Things like this.

One morning a couple months ago on the way to school and my son said “Mom, you didn’t yell this morning…you stayed on green.”  I almost died.

Then I inquired more about what happens if I do yell.  He and my daughter then started devising an elaborate system that goes something like this:

  • Green: no yelling, leave the house on time, everyone is calm and respectful
  • Blue: I lost my warning cube with impatience
  • Yellow: I yelled
  • Red: I’m not even sure because we’ve never gotten there, but I think they have to borrow my phone to call their grandparents on me

We talk about this system in the car literally every morning.  I don’t know if it’s helpful or just one more thing they can tell their own therapist some day, but it has added an element of humor to sometimes troubling times.  I’ve been on green a lot lately.  Maybe having this mommy positive behavioral support is in place is working.

To all the other Dinosaur Moms – wishing you a green day or maybe even purple, which my kids say is above green and is reserved for days when I’m “extra nice…or it’s someone’s birthday.”

Patience

Dear Lord, grant me more patience.  I pray this every day.  ALL THE TIME.

The Bible says love is patient and kind…so why am I the least patient with the people I love the most???

I don’t know where you are on this, but many parents I know share a similar struggle.  Parents of clients.  Clients who are parents.  Friends.  Family.  Me.

So what to do?  Here are a few ideas I’ve known to work, both personally and in working with clients.

  1. Self-care.  This is airplane mask theory.  Put yours on before trying to assist other passengers.  For me it means getting up earlier than my kids to work out, hiring out help (childcare, housecleaning, take out), and date night.
  2. Prepare.  When is patience the hardest?  For example, if you’re snapping at your child at dinner because he is being whiny, look at setting yourself up for success through planning.  Maybe he needs a snack earlier so he’s not so hungry or maybe your family needs to go over the expectations regarding table manners.  Either way, prep time in advance can help parents stay level-headed.
  3. Hit pause.  I’m working on some mindfulness practice at the moment.  For me it’s very basic, just pause to take a step back from the situation, breathe, and look at my thoughts and feelings in a way this is non-judgmental.  It’s both really easy and really difficult.
  4. I use Conscious Discipline (www.consciousdiscipline.com) in teaching clients who are parents ways to manage themselves first so they can then respond to their children.  Dr. Becky Bailey, the creator of Conscious Discipline, has some really sound ideas about parenting.  And even though I know those strategies as a parent myself, I don’t always use them.  Sometimes it’s good to go back for a refresher.  These ideas stood out to me regarding patience:
    • Power of Perception: No one can make you angry without your permission
    • Power of Free Will: The only person you can change is you
    • Power of Acceptance: The moment is as it is
    • Power of Love: Choose to see the best in others

Wishing all the other parents out there patience.  And should you find yourself not always using patience, know that 1) you’re in good company and 2) it’s never too late to start developing skills to become more patient.