“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” -Franklin P. Jones
Summer is here .. and it’s loaded with outdoor activities, a looser schedule and a whole mess of family togetherness. Of course, once the initial excitement of the season starts to wear off, so does our patience for one another. Because there is, in fact, such a thing as too much togetherness. And, when the kids begin fighting and squabbling, a domino effect occurs within the family structure. Constant bickering can wear on everyone’s nerves and make fuses grow shorter and shorter. Practicing patience can be difficult for all involved, but having a few tricks up your sleeve can definitely help when the problems arise.
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1. Compose a schedule of events and chores that will occur daily throughout the summer. It can be as general or as specific as you want it to be. Customize it to your household. Every member of the family, from the tallest to the smallest, will benefit from knowing what’s coming as well as what’s expected of him or her.
2. Dramatize a situation that required patience recently by having family members act it out in all of its entertaining-and-sometimes-ugly reality. Then ask the quarreling characters “What should you do now?” Give choices such as “Should you yell? Should you hit him or her back?” Once everyone agrees on which choices are the wrong ones, begin discussing the right way to deal with the problem. Have the characters demonstrate these strategies.
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3. Take pictures of the people in your family sharing, helping and working together. Post them around the house at a child’s eye level. They offer great opportunities for positive reinforcement by simply pointing to one and saying something like “I really like when you help your sister with her shoes each morning.”
4. When the fighting begins, nip it in the bud. Agree on a keyword that will remind everyone to practice patience. For example, once the bickering starts, you could calmly say “Control” or even something funny like “Peanut Brittle.” This gentle reminder is often all a child needs to snap out of it and maybe even wind up laughing.
5. Be sure to point out the positives in your house. When playtime remains friendly and interactions are constructive, be sure to make a point to comment on it. A simple compliment goes far in encouraging future peaceful moments and productive teamwork.
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6. Remind yourself as a parent that, when you lose your patience, you are reinforcing the negative behavior. (Yeah. We don’t like this one either … but it’s true!) When it comes to kids and patience, failing to model good behavior yourself doesn’t set the best example for them. Practicing patience can be very difficult so it’s a good time to practice counting to ten or taking deep breaths before walking into a confrontational situation.
7. Be sure everyone has the opportunity for some alone time, including the parents. Throughout the day, work into the schedule a time to take breaks to play or read quietly to recharge yourselves and replenish your depleted patience.
Summer break is a time for a little more freedom from the hectic schedule of the school year. Set the stage for a peaceful atmosphere by arming your household with strategies to work through turbulent situations. They’re not always easy to put into motion, but they’re solid life lessons for everyone to learn right from the start. And, as with any skill, practice makes perfect.
Michele is the founder and editor of Old Dog New Tits, an award-winning blog about whatever craziness crosses her family’s path. She is a freelance writer for various websites, magazines and newspapers and is always looking for new projects. She hopes to publish some of her independent work in the near future. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Arts Administration. As a married mother of two from New Orleans, she is actively involved in her children’s lives and has served as everything from Room Mom to Brownie Leader to even PTA President. She loves cheese almost as much as her children and thought it imperative that she include that fact in her biography.
Melissa is the founder and editor of According to Mags, a blog about her children’s silly antics that keep her and her readers entertained. She also co-produces with her husband a children’s story podcast called Night Light Stories. Melissa is the proud mom of a seven-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. She holds a Masters degree in Special Education and is in her thirteenth year of teaching. Mel has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. Currently, she is a supervisor for student teachers at Walden University as well as a Homebound Teacher in the evenings.
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