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How to stop yelling at your kids (from moms who used to have a temper)

Posted January 6

“You don’t see me when I’m alone with them. I have such a temper.”

This comment came from one of the most wonderful woman - and mother - I know.

Despite her protests, I know this woman is a great mom, and yet she couldn’t see it. She was too filled with guilt from the times she lost her temper with her kids to see the good things she brings into their lives.

To this kind mother, and to all wonderful mothers everywhere, I have seen that great guilt you carry after you yell at your children. Maybe you recall the judgement in the stranger’s eyes when you lost it at the grocery store or are haunted by the tears that well up in your daughter’s eyes when she senses the familiar oncoming yelling.

You have the hardest job in the world. No good mother truly wants to yell at her children, but most good mothers do at some point.

I asked moms who have struggled in keeping their tempers about what things have helped them refrain from losing it with their children. If you find yourself yelling at your sweet babies more than you wish, hopefully these answers will be helpful to you as well.

When you wake up tell yourself, “I will only show love today.”

Start your day right. One mom said this small phrase helps her make the choice first thing in the morning, and helps her keep that promise all through the day.

Ask yourself, "Would I be comfortable acting this way in front of someone else"?

It’s humiliating to lose your temper in front of another adult. Envision someone else in the room with you and your child and let that cool your reaction.

Know your breaking point

Frustration is different than deep anger. Set the boundary for yourself that you will never REALLY yell at your child. Then, learn to recognize when you’re getting close to that line. When it’s coming, walk away. Even a minute or two can help you avoid reactionary behavior that will make you feel awful afterwards.

Think, "Is it worth having a bad day over this?"

Once you get upset at your kids, it snowballs the rest of your day. It’s hard to shake a grumpy mood. If you can stop the anger before you show it, it won’t ruin the whole day.

Tell your husband to take over when emotion is taking control

Not everyone has a partner in parenting, but for those who do, this can save you. When you’re getting too emotional to be patient, ask your husband to take over. Make sure to do the same for him when he gets to that point as well.

Fill your life with good things

Start your day with prayer or meditation. Listen to an inspiring talk while you get ready for the day. Fill your life with as many uplifting things as possible. Practices like this can give you amazingly improved patience.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could have happened in this situation?”

So you’re running a bit late. Or the kids made a mess. What’s the worst that could happen? If the consequences could have been fatal, that deserves more discipline than something that’s just a nuisance.

Take a teacher-student perspective

It’s so frustrating to tell them the same thing over and over again, but remember your child is a little human and you are trying to teach them how to function as a full-grown human someday. Doing this can give you the perspective of a teacher and student rather than an exhausted parent and a misbehaving child.

Listen to music

If you’re a music person, putting on your jams in the background can do magic for an irritable mood.

Most importantly, don’t lose patience with yourself. Like your child, this is a learning experience for you too. There will be some days when you wish you could have a personality transplant. Those days pass. Each day, in some little way, you are growing and expanding and improving, and that’s enough.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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