Inside: The number one reason why parents yell. Plus, the 2-minute strategy that can help you stop yelling and squash the angry mom inside you.
My kids could not stop giggling. I honestly didn’t understand it, but they were making “monster faces” and this was, apparently, the funniest thing they ever did see. The kids hopped out of the car, and together we locked hands, grabbed our bags and started walking towards our apartment building.
Everything in that moment felt right.
Then I heard it. The yelling.
My eyes shifted left to right, scanning for where it was coming from. I spotted it: mom, minivan, kids.
She stood outside the rear sliding door looking inward, kids peppered the inside of the van, and the roaring words that followed are ones I’ll never forget.
In a single instant, everything turned to slow-motion as I watched her arms charge up and down into the air. Her voice accelerated with each passing second, and verbal bullets shot into the ears before her.
The kids and I continued walking inside, but my heart raced.
My cheeks flushed hot.
My throat felt tight.
My stomach tied double and triple knots.
But not for the reason you’d think.
I looked at the mom outside the minivan, and the first image that popped into my head was…myself.
Because man, I’ve been there.
I’ve. so. been. there.
A huge part of me wanted to drop all my bags, let go of the little hands locked into my own, race toward the minivan and leap into her arms for the biggest hug ever.
I wanted to look her in the eye and tell her that this parenting gig is…hard.
That she was…not alone.
The real reason why parents yell at their kids.
No one becomes a parent and thinks, “I’m going to be angry and yell at my kids all the time.”
No one plans on being an angry mom.
Instead, you probably think a lot more along the lines of this:
- I love my kids and I would do anything for them.
- I want to do this parenting thing “right.”
- I desire to be a calm and patient parent.
The forgotten factor.
I’ve battled my parenting anger for years and I still haven’t found a magic fix, but I made a huge breakthrough when I learned the REAL reason I was yelling.
Anger and yelling always comes from a feeling of powerlessness.
Powerlessness that you can’t control your kids behavior.
Powerlessness that you can’t get all the little people out the door on time.
Powerlessness that you can’t take a shower without a fight breaking out between the kids.
Powerlessness that you can’t get your kids to (for the love of all things chocolate and coffee) go to sleep at night.
Powerlessness that some days you feel like you’re failing at parenting, and you genuinely want to fix it, but you don’t know how.
You give and give and give, and quite honestly, little seems to move in the direction you want.
So you yell.
When your parenting frustration hits level 15 on a scale that only goes to level 10, you feel powerless.
And one easy way to feel power quickly is to…yell.
It’s the same reason kids fall into rapid-fire sequences of back talk and disrespect. They feel powerless, too.
Yelling always comes down to this: The overwhelming desire to meet your healthy need for power as fast as possible.
(Yes, power is a healthy need. We all have the need for power. It’s only a matter of meeting that healthy need in a healthy way.)
A 2-step quick fix for yelling.
If you find your power tank dangerously low and you are about to yell at your kids, give this a try:
1. Name 5 things you can control in the moment.
Think: I can tap my right foot fast 10 times. I can passionately say, “I’m so frustrated.” I can add 2+7+9 in my head. I can do 5 jumping jacks. I can close the car door and sit on the ground.
This simple exercise allows you step out of your emotional brain and back into your logical brain. You’ll slowly move from a feeling of powerlessness to a feeling of control.
2. Be sure to say them aloud.
This is an important step because if you say it inside your head, the emotional brain will continue to overpower your logical brain.
This is also the perfect exercise to help a crying kid calm down. After doing this quick exercise, it’s easier to see a clearer solution to the problem.
Before you go, a story.
When I saw the mom at the door of her minivan, I wanted to leap into her arms for and tell her that she was a good mom and that she wasn’t alone.
I wanted to help her, but I didn’t.
Instead, I froze and walked inside pretending to see nothing.
I felt a lot of guilt over that.
For days upon days, I thought about this mom and how I wished she knew that she wasn’t alone.
Then I saw her again.
There she was in the elevator with her hands lovingly locked with her littles. Despite the chaos of the kids around her, she was calm and relaxed.
I looked over to her, and in the midst of our combined 5 kids making the loudest and most rambunctious noises, I said…
“I saw you before in the parking lot.”
Her face instantly flashed white like she’d been found out.
Nervous to speak, I continued. “I wanted you to know that I’ve been there. I understand. You’re not alone, and you can call me anytime.”
The doors opened.
I looked to my kids who were eager to get off and said, “This isn’t our floor yet. Stay here.”
I extended my arm to her with a piece of paper.
My heart raced.
(I feared rejection after saying anything at all.)
Then she stepped off the elevator, grabbed the paper with my number on it — and with tears in her eyes — she mouthed two words: Thank you.
Resources for a calmer home:
- The Most Important Words You’ll Ever Say to an Upset Child
- Parenting Anger Isn’t The Problem: How to Communicate With Kids Effectively When You’re Angry
- The Most Important Thing You Can Do After You Yell at Your Kids
- 8 Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen Without Yelling
Want more on parenting?
- 2 Year Old Not Listening? Try This Remarkable Tip
- Dear Mom Who Feels Like a Terrible Mother
- 10 Powerful Phrases for When Your Child Whines or Complains
- Dealing With Parenting Anger: 21 Healthy Ways to Share Frustrations With Kids