If you have hard time trying to stop yelling as a mom, please know you’re not alone. You’re not a horrible person – or parent.
Picture it: your child is in mid-tantrum. Whether they’re a teenager upset about not getting pizza for dinner or an 8-year-old complaining about having to wait while you’re shopping, you’re DONE.
Your calm demeanor snaps. Your patience plummets. And you lose it.
You do so much for these kids and parenting is hard! Why don’t they appreciate it?
Then, you yell.
Or maybe you cry.
Or you retreat inward and start bashing yourself for what a horrible mom you are and you can’t make anyone happy.
If this resonates, you’re not alone. In our Balance VIP community, so many women talk about how they can’t seem to control their reactions in the moment. They yell. They say passive aggressive comments they regret later. Or they don’t say anything at all and wish they did.
Ignore the Typical Advice on How to Stop Yelling
What’s the typical advice people give you – or maybe you give to kids – who are prone to losing their temper and yelling?
Probably: Take a deep breath to calm down.
But in the moment, you are so on fire that you can’t remember that you’re supposed to take a deep breath to calm your body.
You go from trigger to yelling in less than a second.
That’s why I’m not going to tell you to pause in the moment because that would you no good.
Instead, I suggest to pause afterwards.
The Science Behind Reflecting
One of the best ways to gain control of your own behavior is to develop awareness.
Reflection is an executive functioning skill. It’s one that takes practice to develop and leads to greater self awareness.
According to an article in the Harvard Business review, “As a part of our cognitive nature, we use logic and reason to “describe, explain, predict, and control” in order to project some semblance of power over what goes on in our lives.”
When you yell, it’s a surprise that you flipped out so amazingly fast.
Reflection helps take that surprise and analyze it so that you can better predict it coming in the future.
Reflection papers were a dreaded – and necessary – part of my teacher education program. The amount of 3-4 pagers I had to write about my experience in the classroom and reflect back on what went well and what I would do differently – my gosh! I hated it.
But, it changed the way I thought. It led me to better predict what would lead to student chaos in the classroom, so I was able to make decisions before that happened.
When you go back and review a situation, you’re carving a small neural pathway into your brain as to how you want to react. Your brain remembers it, too
Maybe not at first, but the more often you make pausing a habit. The deeper that pathway gets. It grows from an underused trail you have have to guess which way it leads to a five lane highway where your direction is clear.
If you want to stop yelling as a mom, here’s what to do when you pause.
Ok mom, you yelled.
I’m guessing – once you calm down – you feel awful. You hate that you have to resort to yelling to get your kids to listen.
But be easy on yourself. The first thing I want to do is engage in a little self compassion. According to Kristen Neff, PhD in her book Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, self compassion is three things:
- Recognize what led to your actions.
- Remind yourself that other people would have the same reaction,
- Comfort yourself
Let’s go through these steps one by one.
When you calm down after yelling at your kids
Pull out a piece of paper or a journal. This really helps if you write it down. Also, you can go back and judge your progress from your past entries.
First, look at what else happened that day that led to your reaction. You don’t live in a bubble,
Your child taking 30-minutes to eat their cereal may not have bugged you as much yesterday. But today, you completely lost it.
What happened before you lost it? Check in with yourself using the acronym HALT. It stands for:
Have you eaten yet? Did your body need food? This is a pretty easy one to figure out.
Is something else on your mind that’s taking up your mental bandwidth? This can be a huge restructure happening at your office or a conflict with a co-worker.
Or maybe you’re upset at your parenting partner for not washing the dishes last night like he said he would and all the pots from chili are still sitting in the sink, “soaking.”
What else is on your mind? Be aware. You’re not judging these things as good, bad, or “these aren’t a big deal, I shouldn’t be so angry”. You’re simply writing them down.
Is it you who’s home alone with the kids while your partner gets home late or has to travel?
Do you arrange your entire schedule based around your family and have no time to get together with other adults?
Loneliness is pervasive right now. Write down how you feel.
Are you dragging yourself out of bed? Do you wish you had a day to rest?
Or maybe you look forward to being sick because it’s “permission” to stop doing everything and just sleep.
No shame there. I used to feel that way, too.
It’s a good thing to recognize.
Review all the things that led to your outburst. It’s a lot, right?
Any other person in that situation would have lost it too. It’s not just you, friend.
No one has a sheer force of will to stay patient and never lose their cool.
Instead, people learn to guard their energy. I say this now to give you hope and take away the shame of yelling.
Remember what I said before that you reflect so you’re better able to predict situations in the future. That’s coming.
You’re doing the best with what you have and anyone else would have reacted the same way.
This stress and guilt that you’re feeling right now is painful. You might have a headache. Maybe your throat feels tight or you’re berating yourself for being a horrible parent.
You’re not a horrible parent. You’re human.
What can you do right now to bring yourself comfort?
This can be something simple as saying to yourself,
“This is so upsetting to you and you’re hurting right now.”
Acknowledge the hurt and perhaps stroke your arm, give yourself a hug – sounds crazy, but try it – or talk about it with someone who’ll commiserate and not tell you what to do.
Want a little more help?
In our Balance VIP community, we understand the struggle of losing control and reacting in ways we later regret. That’s why we’re here to offer a different approach.
Rather than trying to pause in the heat of the moment, we encourage you to pause afterwards and reflect on your reactions. Reflection is a powerful tool that helps you gain control over your behavior by developing awareness.
Continue practicing this reflection and self-compassion exercise each time you feel the mom guilt creeping in or when you lose your cool.
By journaling and reflecting regularly, you’ll rewire your brain to become more composed in the moment and prevent unhelpful thoughts from escalating into outbursts.
Balance VIP provides the support and guidance you need to cultivate this habit and create a more harmonious and balanced parenting journey.
Join our community today and experience the transformative power of reflection and self-compassion.
You’re not alone. The best mom is a happy mom – and you deserve to be a happy mom.
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