By Terry Scalzitti

Some friends of mine recently told me they were at their wit’s end. They had two children who—in their words—were “driving them crazy.” Since they didn’t think that destination would change anytime soon, they asked for some practical ways to improve their patience with their kids. Should they count to ten?  Should they walk out of the room? While those might seem like a few good go-to options for most parents, they’re can actually be counterproductive.

My friends were puzzled by my response. I told them that patience is a lot like “capital.”  Much like money in the bank, we all have different amounts of Patience Capital or “PC” in our banks. From time to time, our children will make a withdrawal from our banks. When our accounts run dry, we typically say things like “I’m running out of patience” or “I’m trying to be patient with you.”  In these moments, we’re actually on overdraft protection mode! The reality is that we all must take some steps to re-build our PC accounts. Here are a few ways to grow your PC accounts so that you won’t bankrupt your patience!

1. Spend consistent quality time with your children. Many times, our children make their greatest withdrawal from our PC accounts when they want our attention. Spending intentional time after work or on the weekends with your children outside of the normal routine will put “PC” back in your account. Remember what Reggie Joiner says: “It’s not quality time or quantity time, but the quantity of quality times.”

2. Build clear expectations by creating a rhythm in your home. Every family has a unique rhythm. Yours might be double-time or adagissimo (very slow). Whatever it is, these rhythms help children have clear expectations for their time. When children know what to expect at certain times during the day, they will develop initiative and drive which helps them develop independence. When children develop independence, they are able to have personal boundaries which helps moms and dads not dip in their PC savings account.

3. Develop clear consequences for poor choices. Specifying clear consequences for our children and following through with them helps our children know where the boundary line is. Too often, parents will move the line with each infraction which encourages our kids to push the line. When our children push the line, we dip into our PC accounts and run the risk of over drafting .

4. Remember that emotions carry a PC withdrawal fee. In those inevitable moments when our children push the line, we run the risk of taking things personally. In these moments, our emotions can accelerate PC spending. When we remember that poor choices are part of the training process for children, we are able to budget our PC appropriately.

Following just a few these suggestions will help you build a PC surplus which will allow you to avoid running out of patience. Spend your PC wisely!

Terry Scalzitti is Associate Pastor for Adult and Family Ministries at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale. He and his wife Jennifer have a son, Connor, and spend their free time enjoying the outdoors and watching Terry’s beloved Chicago Cubs.