Juice spilled on your keyboard. Nights filled with inconsolable babies. Shouting and pushing between siblings vying for your attention. Parenting presents a steady barrage of challenges that often strains your capacity to be calm and reasonable.
Growing your supply of patience would help you maintain composure. An extensive study involving over four hundred families points to a key way you could bulk up on patience in order to better function as a parent.
Published in Developmental Psychology, the study compared three approaches to parenting: 1) the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), 2) the SFP modified to include mindfulness training, and 3) minimal intervention to serve as a control group.
The SFP has been empirically validated to be effective in prior studies, and it proved effective again, improving parent-child relationships, the ability of parents to manage their children’s behavior, and the well-being of the parents themselves.
However, the blended SFP and mindfulness approach proved as effective on the whole as the SFP by itself and actually exceeded the SFP in several areas. The most notable improvement was the results from fathers. They showed more emotional understanding and compassion for their children in the blended approach, as well as more listening with complete attention.
Greater emotional intelligence, which mindfulness has been shown to cultivate, likely underlies this improvement. Patience is a key element of emotional intelligence. It’s what gives us the wherewithal to slow down enough to observe and to listen so we can understand and better care for our children.
While patience won’t make you immune to frustration, it will give you a greater capacity for managing the daily challenges of parenting and life’s other obligations. Practice mindfulness for a few weeks (instructions at bottom of this link) and discover what it can do for you.