Tired of losing your temper with your children? Anger management for moms starts with breaking these 7 patterns to stop feeling angry.
Every mom who has ever yelled at her child knows how irrational it is. Ridiculous even.
After all, our kids are so young, some as young as babies, when we get angry. They’re not even especially “difficult,” but going through normal development all kids their age do. And as much as we don’t want to yell, we still don’t know how to actually stop.
Common advice like putting your child in a time out or counting to 10 doesn’t seem to work, either. He cries even more (which only makes you more anxious) and you’re just as upset when you reach 10.
If you can relate, rest assured you’re not alone, friend.
You’re not the only one sick of being angry or succumbing to crazy mood swings throughout the day. And the fact that you know you need to deal with it better is already a sign you’re on the right path.
Still, you likely find yourself getting angry at the kids—and only the kids (because you can’t imagine losing your temper at others). You get down on yourself for the predictable cycle: get angry, say things you regret, yell and feel out of control, cry and feel horribly guilty, and apologize for all that transpired.
It’s enough to make anyone feel like the worst mom ever.
Anger management for moms: the 7 patterns to break
I’ve had my bouts of losing my temper, and for the silliest of reasons, too (like my kids not eating the dinner I cooked, or being late for school drop off). I’ve gone through stages where the anger seemed to come out of nowhere, or when no calming techniques would work.
But for the last few years, I’ve reined in on feeling angry. And here’s what surprised me: it had little to do with what I actually did, but more with what I thought and felt.
You see, I’m learning that most of our behaviors stem from our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, including whether we feel angry or not. You can try everything, but if your thoughts keep you trapped in a certain mindset, no amount of doing is going to get you out of losing your temper.
Instead, I found seven patterns that keep us feeling angry. Work through these thought patterns, and you’re more likely to finally free yourself from the grasp of your temper.
Important note: If you find yourself feeling particularly low, remember to tell your doctor if you have symptoms of postpartum depression. Online advice from fellow moms can only get you so far, whereas your doctor can help you so much more.
Now, let’s take a look at anger management for moms to avoid these patterns that are keeping you stuck:
1. Feeling like you have no choice
It’s that overwhelming feeling of finding yourself yelling out of nowhere. The rush of energy surges upward, ready to erupt, and it seems like the only way to get it out is to scream as loud as you can.
I hear you. Many moms feel like they have no choice about losing their tempers. After all, it’s not like we plan to yell at our kids, or enjoy how we feel afterward.
But here’s what I learned: you always have a choice.
Yup, even in those moments where a split-second is all it takes to lose your cool. But the more you convince yourself that you have no choice, the less likely you are to be aware of what triggered you.
Feeling like you have no choice keeps you stuck, as if you’re the recipient of an unfortunate situation. Instead, be aware that you have a choice. In fact, you’ve always had a choice in the past—the only difference is that you weren’t aware of it.
What does being aware look like? It means focusing on how you feel in the moment, almost like you’re “watching” yourself rising in anger. This simple pause can separate yourself from the version of you about to yell, to the point where it can feel odd and you no longer want to go down that path.
Remind yourself that in every moment of your life, you have a choice on how to think, feel, and act. This important distinction will help you see your behavior in a new way—one where you can take full ownership of your actions.
Free download: You can stop losing your temper if you start from the inside out and change from within. In How to Finally Stop Losing Your Temper, you’ll learn how to reflect on who you’re being and your habits and triggers. You’ll discover what you can do when you feel that rush of anger rising within you.
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2. Staying stuck in unhelpful habits
We all operate from habits, from brushing our teeth to driving our cars. This is the brain’s way of conserving calories and energy, especially when we do many of the same things every day.
Unfortunately, these habits extend to how we feel as well, including feeling angry.
You see, your brain doesn’t discern between good and bad habits, or helpful and unhelpful ones. It’s only trained to continue to do things subconsciously from constant repetition. While brushing your teeth can be a helpful habit to automate, losing your temper isn’t.
So, any time you feel like you have no choice, or like you yell out of nowhere, that’s because it’s sort of true. You’ve formed the habit of getting angry so automatically, just as you don’t think much about brushing your teeth.
As I say in my book, 31 Days to Better Parenting:
“When we yell, we’re reacting. Maybe our kids do something, and the culmination of a stressful day builds up and we erupt. We usually don’t yell on purpose or wake up in the morning and say, ‘Today, I’m going to yell at my kids when they misbehave.'”
How, then, can you break the habit of losing your temper? By finding your triggers.
What is it that drives you to lose your temper? For one mom, it might be when her child is about to get hurt, while for another it’s when the kids fight or are unkind to each other. Other times it’s the onset of a tantrum, or the sound of whining.
And sometimes the triggers aren’t even about the kids, but instead a busy day at work or an argument with your spouse.
Once you’ve spotted your common culprits, come prepared with alternatives, or “replacement habits.” Maybe it’s closing your eyes, thinking of a positive memory, or walking out of the room—anything other than raising your voice. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as you find it useful.
At first, doing this new habit will feel odd, unnatural, or like it won’t work. But that’s because it’s “new,” and your brain doesn’t understand why it’s not relying on its old standby of yelling. But with consistent, gentle repetition, you can replace yelling with these new habits.
3. Trying to avoid your triggers entirely
While it’s crucial to know your triggers, that doesn’t mean you try to avoid them entirely.
It’s unrealistic—not to mention unfair—to expect your child to never throw a tantrum, or to never have a bad day. No doubt, your triggers will continue to present themselves, sometimes over and over. Trying to avoid them will only make you feel defeated when you’re about to lose your cool.
The key isn’t to try to avoid your triggers, but to change how you respond to them.
So, just because you now know that tantrums set you off, that doesn’t mean you get down on yourself when your toddler has a fit. That also doesn’t mean you give him grief for having a meltdown, either. Instead, focus on changing your automatic habits from yelling to something more helpful.
4. Trying to go from angry to happy
You might assume that not feeling angry means feeling the opposite: happy. So much so that any time you’re about to yell, you feel just as bad for feeling irritated or impatient.
But that’s the problem: you try to aim for the extreme, opposite end (happiness) when you’re barely hanging on. Can you see how unlikely it is to go from one extreme to the other? And can you see how not feeling what you expected would make you feel worse?
Instead, think of your emotions as a ladder, where your difficult feelings lie on the bottom rungs while positive feelings are on the top. Rather than aiming for that top rung, what if you aim for the next rung up?
This is why you can’t beat yourself up if you’re not chipper and happy, especially in the face of your triggers. Instead, work your way up, and feel good for every rung you climb.
Maybe you were about to yell, but instead you shut your eyes, took a deep breath, and didn’t say anything. You went from “I was about to yell” to “I chose not to say anything at all,” which is a pretty amazing change.
Sure, you felt irritated and just about ready to burst, but… you didn’t. Just because you weren’t smiling and happy, it doesn’t mean you’ve “failed.”
You see, the beauty of climbing that ladder is that you eventually continue to move higher. Maybe now you go from feeling irritated, to starting to relax your body a bit. And from there, you manage to hug your child, and even crack a smile.
So, don’t aim for the extreme end of where you are—few people can switch that quickly. Instead, start where you are and improve how you feel, rung by rung.
5. Seeing these moments as problems
It seems crazy to suggest that your triggers—from tantrums to the kids fighting—aren’t problems. They’re not exactly a walk in the park, right?
Except seeing these moments as problems does one damaging thing: it prevents you from seeing them as opportunities.
Yup, opportunities—or chances—to do the right thing. Yet another opportunity to be more patient, to show compassion, to develop your sense of empathy. These “problems” that seem to come back over and over only do so because you haven’t learned the lessons you needed to learn the first few times.
So, the more you see these triggers as problems, the more they’ll come back as problems.
Let’s say your kids fight over and over, but you don’t use it as an opportunity to further develop yourself. The next time they do fight, then you’re still not equipped with the patience, compassion, or empathy to help them through it.
But what if they fought and you chose other ways to respond to it? Now you’re developing the skills to handle sibling rivalry, so much so that the next time it happens, you’re better equipped to handle it.
Now the next time they fight, it won’t feel like yet another problem, because you’ve improved and changed in order to handle it well.
6. Blaming other factors
When you list the reasons you get mad—your child telling a lie or playing too rough with his brother—it’s easy to see those as the cause of your anger.
But don’t be fooled: blaming external factors only holds you back from truly parenting with patience. Why? Blaming others or circumstances places you in a powerless mode.
If the only person you can control is yourself, then blaming relinquishes control out of your hands. It’s harder to change what you can’t control, so it’ll always feel like you’re on the receiving end of unfortunate circumstances.
But when you take responsibility for the choices you make, then you’re in a better place to make real, lasting change. You’re not relying on your child to stop misbehaving to feel better—you decide how you’ll feel regardless of his behavior.
7. Not being dedicated to change
Anger management for moms can only be as successful as your determination to making it happen.
This is especially hard in the beginning, when you’re trying to undo so many unhelpful habits, and your brain is trying to convince you not to change. It’s hard when you still lose your temper, even after trying not to.
But this is exactly when you must be dedicated to changing your thoughts and habits. Real change starts with constantly picking yourself back up when it’s so much easier to quit when it gets hard.
This also means focusing a lot of your energy into not getting angry. Maybe that’s waking up each morning with an intention to be patient, or journaling about your successes and not-so-great days. What we focus on grows, so the more attention and dedication you give toward real change, the more you’ll see it.
And yes, this means significant change won’t happen overnight—in fact, it’ll likely take weeks or months before you replace your old habits. But the only way to get to that point is through unwavering dedication.
If you feel trapped in anger, rest assured that you can learn to break away from the patterns that are keeping you there.
Start by realizing that you have a choice—that you’ve always had a choice—whether to lose your temper or not. Spot your triggers and replace unhelpful habits with better ones. That doesn’t mean though that you try to avoid your triggers, but rather change how you respond to them.
Don’t feel like you need to jump from anger to happiness in one quick motion. Instead, think about moving up rungs of a ladder, step by step. Realize that your triggers aren’t so much “problems” as they are opportunities with lessons for you to learn.
Avoid blaming external factors, and instead take responsibility for your choices. And finally, dedicate yourself to actually changing how you respond to your child’s behavior. True commitment is needed to make lasting change.
As you can see, anger management for moms starts not so much with doing as it does with how you’re being—in your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
Get more tips:
- 5 Ways to Stop Toddler Power Struggles Many Parents Don’t Think to Do
- Model the Behavior You Want to See in Your Child
- 7 Game-Changing Ways to Respond to Your Argumentative Child
- Unique Ways to Meet the Emotional Needs of Your Child
- 7 Proven Strategies to Handle Bedtime Tantrums
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and download your copy of How to Finally Stop Losing Your Temper below—at no cost to you: