For Moms

How to Cope When You Get Really Angry with Your Kids

It’s another day.

Too many dishes in the sink, too many toys on the floor and then an argument breaks out while you rush to get dinner on the table.

One second you’re saying, “please share with your sister,” and then next you shout, “WILL YOU STOP FIGHTING! I’M SO SICK OF THIS, I’VE HAD ENOUGH!”

There’s a moments silence and then a flood of tears matched by a wave of regret.

Mom anger.

It’s not picture-perfect, but it’s a part of life for many Moms.

Have you ever found yourself angry with your kids and regretting it straight afterwards?

What Every Mom Needs to Know about Anger

Every Mom who has had an angry outburst needs to know this — getting angry is a normal part of motherhood. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a Mom, or that you need fixing.

It means you’re human.

The Black Dog Institute suggests that when it comes to anger, you should focus on how you can deal with anger in the future instead of worrying about what’s happened in the past.

One remarkable thing about children is that each new day is truly a fresh start.

8 Fool-Proof Ways for Dealing with Anger

Dealing with anger isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Having practical strategies to lean on can make all the difference.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Can you tell when you’re on the road to getting angry? The cues may be subtle, but they’re there.

To identify them you need to tune into your body. As a start, here are some questions to reflect on:

  • Does annoyance or irritation start to build deep in your belly?
  • Do you feel a tension in your neck or your jaw or your hands?
  • Do you find common words or phrases on ‘repeat’ in your mind, like “I can’t deal with this today,” or “I’ve had enough?”
  • Do you bang things and slam doors?
  • Do your thoughts start to generalize? Do they move from, “the puzzle is a mess” to “the house is a pigsty, and no one ever helps me?”

If you can identify these clues and cues, you’ll give yourself room to calm down before an angry outburst. It takes practice, but it’s worth the energy.

2. Name Your Anger Out Loud

Once you realize you’re angry, name it – “Guys, I’m feeling angry right now because I asked you to share and not fight.”

Even when it’s you and a little person who doesn’t quite understand your words, naming anger out loud can help keep you in control.

3. Create Space Before You React

Creating some space between feeling angry and acting out of anger is difficult — and important. This moment is where you set your course — keeping your cool or reacting in anger.

One way to create space is to focus on your breath. Deep, slow breaths in and out, can help you pause before you react. Even 5–10 seconds of conscious breathing into your belly can create enough space to curb your anger before interacting with your children.

It depends on the situation, but getting up and leaving the room can be another good option. Can you walk outside or go to another part of the house?

Even a few moments alone in the bathroom can help.

Using a mantra in your mind can be useful here too. If you repeat something like ‘just breathe,’ ‘be calm,’ or ‘you’ve got this,’ you may be able to pause for a few moments before you respond.

4. Ask Yourself What’s Happening

Anger is a powerful feeling, but it’s also a secondary emotion. It’s a signpost for something else.

When you recognize you’re angry, see if you can ask yourself, “what’s going on here?” In the moment, can you find another emotion underneath the anger, for example, can you detect:

  • Anxiety
  • Overwhelm
  • Frustration
  • Sadness
  • Fear

You don’t need to do a deep dive, see if you can recognize and name what’s underneath your anger. It can make it easier to diffuse angry feelings and get to the heart of what’s going on.

5. Pause the Discipline While You’re Angry

A lot of the time, angry discipline doesn’t work. It’s the bit where regretful moments, harsh words, generalizations and blame slip in.

When you’re in this zone, you’re more likely to say and do things, ‘calm Mom’ wouldn’t do.

So even if your child’s behavior triggered your angry feelings, see if you can save the discipline for a moment when you feel calmer.

If you do need to address something straight away, the Mayo Clinic suggests using ‘I’ statements when angry is a good approach. This is to help avoid being overly critical or blaming, for example, you could say “I’m upset that you hit your sister” instead of “You always misbehave when I’m trying to cook dinner.”

6. Get to Know Your Patterns and Triggers

When the angry moment has passed, take some time to reflect on your patterns and triggers. Being self-aware can help you preempt when you’re most vulnerable to getting angry.

As a start consider these questions:

  • Do you end up feeling angry at a particular time or in a specific circumstance?
  • Do you flare up just before dinner or trying to get out the door in the morning?
  • Do you get angry when the kids fight or refuse to nap?
  • Does your menstrual cycle play a role?
  • What role does fatigue play?
  • Do you tend to get angry when you’re hungry?
  • Do you get angry when you feel under pressure at work?
  • Do you get angry when you feel disconnected from your partner or unsupported?

Being self-aware is a significant first step towards shifting your reaction to anger.

7. Make Self-care Mandatory

Moms tend to put everyone else first. The problem with this is that when you run on empty, you’re much more likely to shift into the angry zone.

Creating some weekly or daily self-care rituals and making them non-negotiable can help keep you and the family dynamic in balance.

Self-care rituals don’t need to be complicated to be powerful. The trick is to prioritize them. Here are some examples:

  • Wake 15 minutes before the rest of the household, so you can have a cup of tea alone
  • Exercise each week
  • Get outside each day
  • Practice yoga each day
  • Start your day with a gratitude ritual, for example, write down three things you’re grateful for in life (even if they are small)
  • Have a conversation each day with someone other than your children

Self-care rituals are very personal. Find something that replenishes and revitalizes you and make it mandatory.

8. Prepare for Next Time

Now that you’re armed with some personal insight and some strategies you’re ready to prepare for next time.

Decide on the strategy you’ll use for example:

  • “Once I notice I’m angry, I’ll use breathing to stop myself from yelling straightaway, think about how I’m feeling and go outside for a few minutes.”
  • “When I feel myself tensing up, I’ll use the mantra ‘you’ve got this’. As a backup plan, I’ll use TV if I need to while I calm down.”

When you have strategies ready to go, you can shift the way you respond to angry feelings. It takes patience and practice, but the rewards are worthwhile.

Over to You

Feeling angry when you’re a Mom is perfectly natural and understandable.

By tuning into angry feels as they arise and naming them, you can start to deal with them in a fresh way.

Creating some space before responding, asking yourself some probing questions and leaving the discipline for later are useful ways to diffuse your anger and minimize its impact on you and your family.

Self-care and preparing for the next time you feel angry can have a positive impact too.

If anger plays a role in your life, now is a great time to start diving deep and exploring what strategies can work for you.

Do you already have some insights? What works for you and what doesn’t?

Lisa is a freelance writer based in Brisbane, Australia. She is a mom of 2 girls and enjoys writing about all facets of womanhood including the juggle, the struggle, the evolution, wellness and motherhood.

She creates purposeful content for businesses who strive to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Lisa loves yoga, family life, the beach and the bush.

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