Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Patience may be a virtue, but it's not one of mine!

When God was handing out patience, I must have been too busy to wait in line... This is an area that I fall extremely short in, and I am afraid that my 6 year old is going to follow suit if I don't intervene soon!

It is a never-ending cycle in our house -- our oldest daughter wants something NOW and she is bring impatient, and that makes my husband and I lose OUR patience, and it just gets us nowhere.

Last week, there was something that she urgently needed (like dessert, or something life-threateningly important like that...) and of course, I was in the middle of something and could not attend to her need immediately. And in response to her impatience, I said in a bit of a tone, "Mommy needs just 2 minutes of patience!" And as I said it, I thought, "Hmm, let me try something!" So I set the kitchen timer for 2 minutes. And at the end of the 2 minutes, I had finished what I needed to do, and I was ready to help with her emergency (getting a bowl of ice cream).

Shockingly, that seemed to work for both of us! So, the next day a similar situation came up and I handled it with the same approach -- I gauged how much time I needed to get what I was doing done, and then I said, "Ok, Mommy needs 5 minutes of patience, please." (In a much nicer tone this time!) And to my surprise, before I could even set the timer, my girl said, "Ok, set the buzzer, please!" Unbelievable!

We have been doing this for a week now, and I have found that a) I have maintained my patience amazingly well, and b) we have gotten through some of our least favorite tasks with less crabbiness. I have also been using it for unpleasant things that we have to do -- like brush my daughter's hair! She hates it, and screams and yells no matter how gently I do it. I've tried threats ("We're going to go and get your hair cut shorter than Daddy's!") and psychology ("Hmm, if your head is really that sensitive, maybe we should go see the doctor to see what the problem is?") and nothing works very well. But, this morning I tried the 2 minutes of patience, and she pouted, but asked me to do the timer, and we got through it. I even made a little game out of it to keep her mind off of the hair brushing, and I would say, "One minute left! 30 seconds left!" And then we did a countdown from 10 seconds until the timer went off.

This can also work when you are out in public, away from the timer -- I used it at the store the other day, and she said, "There's no buzzer!" and I said that I would be the buzzer and I went along for about 2 minutes and then said, "Bzzz! Time's up!"

The important thing is to stick with the time limit -- set an amount of time that you can get what you need done, and then when the timer goes off (or, before it goes off, if you are ready early) make sure you take care of what your child wants you to do, or in the case of the hair brushing, if you say 2 minutes, you'd better be finished in 2 minutes!


Teamcarbone said...

What a fabulous idea, I love it and I don't need to use it...yet!

Christine said...

I'm gonna store this one in my mental roladex until I need it! It's funny when you fins something so easy that works so well!

Deanna said...

Just wait ladies -- you have girls, I would imagine that you will need it at some point! Although, of course, as impatient as my girl can be (and unfortunately, she comes by it honestly!), I would not trade her for anyone else in the world!