If you feel trapped in the cycle of being an angry mother, you’re NOT alone! Moms all over the world every single day struggle with grumpiness, feeling on-edge, and have a rather short temper when it comes to parenting.
I believe this is due to one main cause. Motherhood requires us to be ON every moment (day and night) of our lives. Ummm…no other job requires that level of commitment! There are no days off in motherhood. And many moms are doing it all with virtually no support system in place.
The nature of being a mom requires us to go…and go…and go.
Even though all the experts tell us that multitasking is ineffective and puts a strain on our mental and physical capacities, the very essence of being a mom requires us to multitask every waking moment of our lives!
And therein lies the issue, we are doing too much ALL. THE. TIME. This feeling of being pulled in so many directions leads to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, mom burnout, and fits of yelling at our kids.
This is why I always say that moms yelling at their kids isn’t the problem…it’s what’s underneath the yelling that should be our focus.
Getting angry and being short-tempered with our kids is always more about us than our kids. And that’s the best news because it means YOU can change the outcome.
And while I share many resources about how to become a calmer mom over the long haul, I’m going to share with you my S.T.O.P. Method that will show you how to calm yourself quickly when you’re in the heat of the moment.
So the next time you find yourself stressed and on-edge with your kids and feel like you might explode – try practicing the following four easy steps!
4 Simple Steps to Stop Being an Angry Mom
Step One – Say, “I Have a Choice”
When we feel our anger rising the first thing we need to do is interrupt our thought pattern by reminding ourselves that we DO have a choice in the matter.
This concept is a powerful truth that I go deep into in my Happier Mom Toolkit. I’ll give you the cliff-notes version here. We are not held captive to react negatively to the things happening around us, including the behaviors of our children.
Let me say it again for the moms in the back…we are NOT held captive to react negatively to the things happening around us, including the behaviors of our children.
In other words, we have the power to respond thoughtfully versus reacting emotionally. And I don’t know about you, but when I used to respond emotionally to my children’s behavior – it was never pretty!
Taking two seconds to say to yourself or out loud, “I have a choice” is an example of a pattern interrupt which is an action that interrupts your highly ingrained ways of thinking. And chances are when you get angry you’re thinking thoughts about yourself.
You may be thinking how awful you sound when you start going into angry mom mode, how helpless you feel every time this happens, or the mom-guilt that screams you’re the worst mom ever.
Interrupting these negative thoughts with an empowering thought is extremely effective. How am I so confident that you’re able to make the right choice? Because God’s Word tells us this…
“Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]” – James 1:19
Notice the word everyone. If we are given this command…we are also equipped to make the change with His help!
Step Two – Take a Breath
This second step rolls together with the first step. As you’re reminding yourself that you do have a choice in how you respond vs. react to the situation you are taking a moment to breathe.
Breathing in moments of stress, anger, or panic are vitally important because they allow our brains to think. When we’re suddenly overcome with negative emotions, our brains hop over into survival mode and rational thinking is suspended.
Taking a few deep, slow breaths allows our ability to think to be restored. And when we’re thinking, we’re making better choices. I don’t know about you but I have a real knack for saying and doing things I’ll regret later when I’m wrapped up in my emotions.
Step Three – Observe Your Feelings
It’s been said that anger is like an iceberg. What you see at the surface is yelling and anger but what’s hiding below the surface are the underlying feelings like hurt, shame, embarrassment, fear, exhaustion, insecurity, stress, worry, depression, trauma, and many more.
When we feel overwhelmed by anger in the moment training ourselves to observe the feeling that’s at the root of our anger is very helpful in defusing that anger.
I’ll be honest, this step takes practice and discipline to resist the strong urge to let our anger blow its top like a volcano all over our kids. And when you tap into its power you’ll get better and better at doing it.
Remember James 1:19 that I just shared above? This is where the slow to speak part really comes in. We quite literally need to train ourselves not to speak right away when we’re angry. That’s why this method is called the S.T.O.P. Method because we’re stopping our negative behavior and exchanging it for a more positive one.
You will likely realize that in that moment you were overwhelmed by a work deadline that was stressing you out, you were embarrassed by something your child did in public, you’re sleep-deprived, hungry, or maybe you just received some bad news.
Identifying those hidden emotions almost certainly works to fizzle our anger. That’s because none of us are angry with our kids on purpose…we’re simply in reaction mode. Leaving us feeling terrible afterward.
Step Four – Practice Grace
This last step is a powerful one because it’s two-fold. First, you’re offering grace to your child for doing whatever is causing your anger in the first place. And secondly, you’re giving yourself grace for feeling angry and letting yourself go through this process.
Grace is defined as unmerited favor. It’s the grace that Christ shows us! We don’t deserve it, yet it’s ours for the taking. Kids are constantly learning, maturing, and growing which means they need heaping scoops up grace every single day.
This doesn’t mean they don’t need discipline and behavioral issues should go unaddressed. It just means that we give them the benefit of the doubt, try our best to understand their side of things, and show them kindness along with our firmness.
And have you ever totally overreacted to a situation that wasn’t at all what you thought it was and you needed to go back and apologize for your own actions? These four steps help us avoid those situations and make room for building trust and making meaningful connections with our kids.