A big struggle moms come to me with, as a mom mentor, is how to stop yelling at their kids. My answers and help always surprise them. It sounds like this: you yelled at your kids or snapped again. You have been trying to stop yelling, but the triggers pile and pile on all day. The baby didn’t sleep last night. The kitchen is covered in dishes and you just can’t keep up with the mess. Then the toddler throws another fit about you doing what they asked. It’s not one thing that made you snap. It’s that those things have built and built and suddenly you feel like this glowing ball of rage. This is the snowball effect. You don’t WANT to feel this way. Gosh, you love these kids. You love being their mom but you find yourself snapping and feeling overwhelmed more often than not.
Here are five ways you can stop yelling at your kids that I teach as a mentor to mommas.
1. The first and most important part to stop yelling at your kids is learning emotional intelligence for YOU.
Stay with me because this is the most important part. If you skip it, you just have more things you “should” do as a momma. You need to slow it down and learn to feel and manage YOUR emotions. Your emotions are like a toddler in the car. And the reason you keep yelling at your kids is that this toddler is trying to drive through the landmine that is parenting. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t feel pretty either does it?
Your emotions and feelings NEED space to be felt in your body without driving your action. Then, they need healthy internal boundaries. Parenting is a landmine of triggers. Learning to avoid and coping with those will change everything as a parent. Take the time to dig into the resources at the end of the article to support YOUR mental and emotional health. Spend time and energy investing in your emotional intelligence and health.
2. Adjust your expectations and mindset.
When are the times you yell or snap at your kids the most? I know it probably seems like it is when the toddler is crying, when the kids won’t pick up, when the consequence isn’t working, the kids aren’t listening or a million other circumstances that happen as a mom. But do you know what all of those have in common underneath it all? A belief about what you or your kids “should” be or do. Most moms will say they have realistic expectations of themselves. They simply want to be everything to everyone all the time and they want to do it perfectly. Gee, it’s weird how often we snap under that pressure, right?
Lower your expectations and raise the standards.
This means you clearly look at what balls are glass and which are plastic. You actually can’t do it all. It’s why you are so overwhelmed trying. Focus on what matters the most. Focus on the connection and the things that move you closer to where you want to be and not to perfection. What small things make a difference in how you feel?
You know one trick that has helped each mom with this so far? I tell her NOT to try to stop yelling at her kids. I ask her to notice when she does yell and then ask herself, “Why?” Aftward, get curious about that thought and feeling she had at that moment. As she learns to do this, she starts noticing when the yelling is about to come. Instead of trying to not yell anymore, I challenge her to apologize after she yells. I ask her what boundaries and expectations are being crossed and teach her to honor those. Yelling at your kids is a symptom. It’s not a cause. If you can start to hear what’s underneath the yelling, the symptom starts going away.
3. You yell when you feel out of control. Stop trying to control what you can’t control.
Repeat after me, ” I don’t control my kids. I don’t control their feelings, their actions, their choices.” It’s exhausting to try to control something you can’t. What you can control as a parent is how you parent. You don’t get to decide how your kid responds. This is not an easy tip. Letting go of control, even coming from a place of love, is one of the hardest parts of parenting. Your kids are individual, whole people who make their own choices whether you like them or not. The less you try to control them, the more impact you will likely be able to have. Decide how you want to show up as a parent. Create boundaries, consequences or rewards that reflect your values. I’ll share helpful parenting resources/tools below on parenting tools that help give you control over what you do have control over.
4. Whatever is in your cup will spill out.
If you are walking out of a coffee shop with a cup of coffee and someone bumps into you and coffee spill all over, why did you spill the coffee? Because they ran into you right?! No, you spilled the coffee because you had coffee in your cup. If you have tea in your cup you would have spilled tea. As a parent, you are being constantly bumped into. I’m sure you are sick of hearing the phrase, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Instead, I offer you this: Whatever is in your cup will spill out. If you want to stop yelling at your kids and feeling frustrated as a mom, you need to fill your cup.
There isn’t a way around it. Writing gratitude each day has been shown to make your brain start noticing more things to be grateful for. Challenge yourself to start looking at what is in your cup and learning to fill it with goodness. That way, when it’s bumped, goodness spills out.
5. You can only do so much alone. Any habit is harder to make or break alone.
Yelling at your kids comes down to this: A habit you want to break. The same science of changing any habit applies here and one of the most effective strategies for creating or breaking a habit is to change your environment. Now, I realize getting away from the kids only works momentarily and we can’t rid parenting of the land mines.
But, you can surround yourself with other parents who are working to parent in a way that aligns with your values. Find ways to expose your brain to new thoughts, ideas, tools, and reactions to show your brain NEW habits that it can go to in times of stress or reaction. I give a lot of examples of how to do this below. It’s not just the information you need, it’s repeated exposure and the support of community while you learn a new habit. It also can do WONDERs to reset your literal environment as a parent and find ways to make parenting more fun and easy.
Overall, take a deep breath and remember that you are an imperfect human raising another imperfect human.
Speak kindly to yourself. Yelling at yourself for yelling at your kids won’t help you change. What’s more, it will make you even more overwhelmed and reacting from shame. Forgive yourself and ask your kids for forgiveness. Teach them what you are learning and let them see what it looks like to be a human living a human experience.
Need some resources and support for parenting without yelling and snapping as your main strategy or set back? Here is a list of resources and supports:
- I created a free instant download worksheet for you that helps you work through the big messy emotions as a mom- here. I’m working on making a whole workbook for you AND your kids on this too!
- Parenting books and strategies: Love and Logic, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Farber and Mazlish, The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting by Brene Brown
- Podcasts: https://www.ahaparenting.com/podcast , https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/top-parenting-podcasts, https://3in30podcast.com/
- Instagram accounts: The Motherhood Mentor, Big Little Feelings, Simply On Purpose, The Mom Psychologist
- Read more parenting blogs about other moms experiences and help : https://thewespot.com/helping-little-humans-handle-big-feelings/, https://thewespot.com/mom-burnout
- Find a mom group that can support you through the highs and lows of motherhood- There are SO many great options from your local mom FB group, mops, online support or coaching groups (some of them are just for moms!), and more.
You are not alone in wanting to have a home where yelling and exploding isn’t the normal. I hope you don’t feel alone in snapping when all you really want is to enjoy these kids you love. You are doing amazing. Be gentle with yourself on the journey.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.