Let’s lower our “Parenting Pain Tolerance”


Oftentimes, we think of pain as physical pain. You fell and scraped your knee, or your grandmother tripped and broke her hip. There are other types of pain as well. There is a certain degree of “pain” when your family life isn’t going well or doesn’t feel peaceful. My wife and I have a super low “pain” tolerance when it comes to parenting. We have formed a habit of becoming quick to realize when things are not enjoyable or when we’re in pain. Some families ignore the pain, or simply put a band-aid on the pain in their lives. Other parents have a very high pain tolerance, which means they can allow certain behaviors from their children to go on for a long time, eventually leading them to explode. If you never want to explode, you have to recognize early the things that light your wick and cause you pain.

One of the things that lights my wick the most is whining. I've had to learn to recognize whining right away, so I can address the behavior with my children immediately, instead of letting my frustration build. If I had a high pain tolerance for whining, I might let the whining go on for hours unnoticed. I wouldn’t be aware of the fact that the whining is slowly grating on my patience, until all of the sudden I hit my pain threshold and get upset at my children. By keeping a low “pain tolerance,” we are able to recognize whining immediately and address it before we feel like exploding in anger.

One thing I’ve found that works for me is I calmly say to the whining child, “I'd love to talk to you when your voice sounds like mine, but right now you're whining a lot,” and then I don’t engage with them until they speak to me in a calm, non-whining voice. This helps me stay calm and not allow whining to go on for an hour or two before I recognize how much it's gotten on my nerves. This is how I address behaviors before they cause a lot of pain in my life.

If our parental pain tolerance is high, we usually allow behaviors we don’t like to go on for a long time, which often means there's probably a lot of pain in our family.

What is your parenting pain tolerance level?

Is your's really high and therefore your family is experience a lot of pain? If it's really high, you’ve probably got a lot of pain happening right now and feeling like you want to explode often. Is it relatively low and your family feels mostly peaceful? We all want our homes to be as close to pain-free as possible, and in order to do so, we need our pain tolerance to come down.

Start paying attention to what behaviors get on your nerves or when you are most tempted to “explode” at your child. Then take some time to think of some ways you can recognize and address those behaviors as soon as they start. It might take several tries. Oftentimes, my first idea doesn’t work. I try several ideas until I finally find one that does. Don’t be discouraged if your first idea doesn’t work, think of another and try that one as well.

A peaceful home free of pain is worth working for!

For more on how to create a peaceful home, watch this.

Seth Dahl