Inside this post: One simple strategy to help you cope with parenting anger and stop yelling. If you’ve ever felt like an angry mom, this will help turn any bad day around.
I put my heart into my kids that day, taking them to the indoor playground, visiting a special burger joint for lunch and spending several hours roughhousing and playing with them to re-connect.
NOW that I needed them to do ONE thing for me — get through two quick errands — they were melting down and grandstanding in the parking lot.
I was ready to flip. my. lid.
One screaming kid was under my arm like a sausage, and the other screaming kid was laying on the ground of the parking lot. I gritted my teeth like a vise grip and uttered those words:
“Get. Up. Right. Now. And. Get. Into. The. Car.”
I was mad.
As I sat in the driver’s seat with both kids screaming in the back, my mind raced through the day’s events: The lack of thank yous. The eye-roll getting out the door in the morning. The not listening in the parking lot.
All the minor infractions that occurred earlier in the day were now compounded interest. And I wanted my debt paid back — in full.
The parenting anger inside my head was like…boiling lava.
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Something had to change.
Parenting anger is something deep inside you. You rarely talk about it because getting angry at your kids exemplifies your imperfections as a parent.
And that’s a vulnerable place to visit.
The stares. The comments. The advice. You don’t want all the outsiders to think you’re a terrible jerk of a mom for losing it on your kids. Because you’re supposed to have it altogether.
But here’s the hardest part…
The thing that needed to change was…me.
It’s not the parenting anger that was the problem. The problem was that I was denying my feelings of anger, frustration and sadness throughout the day with my kids.
I stuffed everything that bothered me back inside. I never communicated any of it in a healthy way.
Kids won’t get out the door in the morning…stuff that frustration back inside.
Kids fight incessantly in the car…stuff that frustration back inside.
Kids eat 2 month-old french fry off the car floor…close your eyes!
The end of each day culminates into one massive emotional burst that has nowhere to go but out your mouth and into the air surrounding you.
I made one simple change.
When something bothered me, I told my kids. Without blame, shame or punishment, I simply told my kids what I was feeling.
According to a brain imaging study by UCLA psychologist Matthew D. Lieberman, verbalizing our feelings makes our sadness, anger and pain less intense.
“When you put feelings into words, you’re activating this prefrontal region and seeing a reduced response in the amygdala,” he said. “In the same way you hit the brake when you’re driving when you see a yellow light, when you put feelings into words, you seem to be hitting the brakes on your emotional responses.”
What Lieberman basically says is that sharing your feelings out loud calms the emotional center (the amygdala) of your brain, enabling you to move forward calmly, rather than build and explode later.
When I got upset with my kids, I started saying things like:
- “You’re not listening and I’m frustrated.”
- “You keep fighting with each other and I’m angry.”
- “You’re eating moldy fries off the car floor and I really don’t like that!”
I even started sharing more happy feelings too:
- “We had so much fun at the park together and I loved it.”
- “You helped me cook dinner and I’m happy.”
- “You were cooperative at bedtime and I’m peaceful.”
Because you’re human; you feel things too.
There was a deep-seeded belief inside of me: I thought it wasn’t okay to tell my kids “bad” feelings.
I thought I was supposed to holler at them once they angered me off enough and they were supposed to know that what I really meant was “I’m frustrated.”
Not surprisingly, they had no idea why I was so angry. Because it came out of nowhere. And I let it happen that way.
3 more reasons sharing your feelings helps.
1. Your emotions quit building throughout the day. And instead of one inevitable explosion, you’ll release and process the emotions as they happen.
2. You’ll start to model how to manage, process and share angry feelings with your kids – and this is powerful. Your kids are looking to you, and they want to see how to share emotions in a healthy way.
3. Your kids will start to shift their behavior (slowly). Learning about emotions is a big task, but once kids start to understand more about your emotions, they will start to shift their behavior based on what you share.
I often think back…
…to that day in the car when the kids were screaming. It serves as a reminder for how far I’ve come.
The parenting anger stopped building. It stopped getting stuffed back in. It’s no longer hidden.
Through transparency and honesty with our emotions, we re-connect with our kids.
We arrive at a place of truth. We realize that both parenting and childhood are filled with emotions across the spectrum. And we share those emotions (even the angry ones) in a healthy way.
And together…we move forward.
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Resources for a calmer home:
- The Most Important Words You’ll Ever Say to an Upset Child
- Parenting Anger Isn’t The Problem: How to Communicate With Kids Effectively When You’re Angry
- The Most Important Thing You Can Do After You Yell at Your Kids
- 8 Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen Without Yelling
Want more on parenting?
- How to Handle Back Talk and Disrespect Like a Parenting Warrior
- 2 Year-Old Not Listening? Try This Remarkable Tip
- The Real Reason Why Kids Never Want to Go to Sleep
- 10 Powerful Responses When Your Child Whines or Complains
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