Most parents don’t want to yell at their children. And yet, ALL parents find themselves yelling at some point. I experience shame around yelling at my son because I TEACH positive discipline classes! Who am I to tell people to calmly set limits with their children when I am over here yelling, “PUT YOUR SOCKS BACK ON RIGHT NOW! WE NEED TO LEAVE!” as I try to head out the door for work.
No one is perfect, and all parents do lose their cool at some point. Forgive yourself for the occasional outburst, apologize, and model accepting responsibility and repairing relationships to your child. But when yelling becomes an every day pattern rather than the result of a bad day, it may be time to take a closer look at why and address it. I have noticed myself yelling more often than I’d like to lately, and have been reflecting on the reasons why. I think many of these reasons will resonate with other parents too, so I’ll share some here.
I’m overwhelmed. I have more things to do every day than can reasonably be done in a day. I’m working on creating more balance, but in the meantime looking at what is absolutely necessary and prioritizing may help. It may not necessarily be a case of having too much to do as much as feeling overwhelmed by the constant needs of young children. Many, many moms I meet fall into this category.
I’m not doing enough self care. When you consistently find your patience wearing thin, it’s a sign that some self care is needed. When you’re more calm and clear minded, you are able to respond to your children’s needs without feeling angry and resentful because your own needs aren’t being met. Take a bath, take 5 minutes to breathe, drink some tea or coffee (hot, not lukewarm!), read a book, go to the gym, whatever you know you need. Sometimes just basic needs like sleeping and eating are the self care that is needed, and that’s OK too.
I’m not setting boundaries. Boundaries are such a tricky thing sometimes. The other day I was letting my son jump on me even though I wasn’t feeling great and didn’t really want him to. He ended up jumping a little too hard and I yelled at him that he’d hurt me. The time to set the boundary, though, was before that happened. I knew I didn’t really want him jumping on me, I was just letting it happen. “My body is my own” applies to moms too, though. If I didn’t want him in my space at that moment, it was on me to tell him that calmly when he started. Same goes with other limits – we let things slide because we don’t want to argue or set a limit, then end up yelling when our kids ignored a boundary we never properly set.
I’m expecting too much from my kid. I know I (and many parents I meet) fall into the trap of believing that if we use positive parenting strategies, if we can be calm and respectful, then our kids will be calm and respectful back. They won’t act out, won’t test boundaries, won’t be angry or aggressive or argumentative. The truth is that toddlers have tantrums and test boundaries because it’s developmentally appropriate and an important part of their development, not because of who we are as parents. Kids are angry or defiant because they are human and still learning to deal with their emotions and frustrations. Yes, it’s sometimes a reflection of a larger problem when it becomes an ongoing pattern, but sometimes it’s just because they are having a bad day. When we stop taking our kids’ behavior personally and stop believing that it is a reflection of us as parents, we are able to approach their behavior more calmly and become curious about the root of that behavior.
I’m angry about something else. This is the one that’s really not fair. Sometimes I’m still carrying anger from something totally unrelated to parenting, and unfortunately it comes out at my son. Maybe I had a bad day at work and I’m still frustrated when I get home so my patience is already thin before my son has even said anything. Sometimes parents get stuck in traffic or get in a fight with their spouse and are still carrying that anger around with them. At this point, I just have to recognize that I’m angry about something else and make a conscious decision to set that aside and not direct it at someone completely blameless. Just being conscious of it and recognizing what is happening can be enough sometimes. Taking a few deep breaths and reminding myself to be in the present moment and deal with it later at an appropriate time can help.
Do any of these relate to you? Anything you would add?