Patience is an essential quality to have in order to build enduring connections with our children despite the exasperating challenges that parenting throws our way. Here are six ways for us to become more patient with our children.

1. Be flexible. Accept that things can happen in a different order than the one that you had in mind. Be willing to change plans, even at the last minute. Children’s needs often don’t fit neatly into our schedules despite our best efforts. Learn to let go of your timetable.

2. Give up unrealistic expectations. Children are not miniature adults. They don’t and shouldn’t have the same level of emotional maturity and judgment that we have. Expect a four-year-old to have a hard time getting dressed and out the door in the morning, because he’s four. Expect a teenager to get emotional over something that seems trivial to you and then spend hours discussing it on the phone with her friends, because she’s 15. We can help our children and offer our perspective, but we should expect our children to act their age.

3. Remember that feelings aren’t facts. Being patient often means taking control of our emotions instead of allowing them to control us. Take a step back. Accept your feelings but remember that emotions come and go, and they don’t always reflect our values. Just taking ten seconds to think before we speak can turn down the intensity of many situations.

4. Learn to appreciate small steps. Just getting everyone out of the house can sometimes seem like a big achievement. So we should try to appreciate the small steps in our children’s lives. First smiles. First words. First bike rides. And the many little steps they take each day as they learn to navigate their way into the world. Appreciate them. These small steps eventually add up to huge distances.

5. Focus on your vision. What are our core goals as parents? What do we want to give to our children each day? What can we do right now to get closer to that goal? Trusting in the process of loving and guiding our children can help us be patient with the little things that can get overwhelming and distract us if we don’t remind ourselves of our destination.

6. Stay spiritually connected. Make time to pray and make God a central part of your life. Keep learning and clarifying your values. Faith not only gives us the ability to face our challenges, it also gives us the patience to help our children through their own struggles. The best way to raise spiritually resilient children is to work on our own growth and beliefs.

Patience is the ability to stop and make space for another perspective in our lives besides our own. Children give us the precious opportunity to do that all the time. And the patience we give our children today will be the model for the patience our children give to their own children.