Disclaimer: I am not a trained counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. The information provided below is based on my own personal experience. I hope that it can help you. Child abuse is a serious issue and one that needs immediate attention. If you feel you are at risk for abusing a child, please seek immediate help.
You yell. You scream. You snap. By the end of the day, you’re exhausted and ashamed and feel helpless. Most mornings start the cycle over, but this morning is different. The morning marks a new day, and you are officially on your journey to becoming a calm mom.
Guide to becoming a calm mom
Understand what happens before you snap.
- Determine your triggers. For me, it’s when my son is whining and clinging to my leg while dogs circle like sharks and I know you’re hungry; I’m trying to make you breakfast! What sets you off? What can take you from calm and happy to cranky and irritated in 2.6 seconds?
- Notice how you feel. In the moments before you snap, how do you feel? Are your shoulders tense? Are you breathing heavy or are you holding your breath? Are you overwhelmed, exasperated, frustrated, etc.?
- Notice what you think. In these moments when I’m trying to get breakfast ready and everyone is begging and bugging and touching me, my mind is thinking something along the lines of how I’m selfless for doing this task and those who are taking me from it are selfish and purposely stealing my time. (Totally not true and not how my logical mind works, but in the moment, those are the thoughts racing through my head.)
By understanding what happens before you snap, you can start to devise a plan to avoid losing control. This is a painful process. Taking time to become aware may mean that you’ll yell again. I know this can be disheartening. But it’s important to become aware of what precedes a fit of anger so that you can consciously break the cycle.
Create a calm mom toolkit.
Not a physical toolkit, the calm mom toolkit is a bunch of ideas for helping you diffuse your anger. Take the time to work on your toolkit when you are calm and rational. During this time, you’ll be able to clearly decide which option is the best for you.
- Come up with activities for your child:
- Make a basket full of new and interesting toys that would keep your child occupied for a few minutes, allowing you to calm down.
- I know TV gets a bad rap, but what’s better: putting your kid in front of the TV for a few minutes or losing your mind and screaming at them?
- Use a fussy chair if your child needs some time to vent as well.
- Come up with calming activities for you:
- Deep breaths or stretches.
- Bible verses.
- A hidden candy stash.
- Locking yourself in your room and laying down for a few minutes.
- Screaming into a pillow to let out some frustration.
- Know your limits:
- Sometimes I have to physically remove myself from the room. It pains me to hear my son crying and I want nothing more than to go comfort him. But I know that giving myself a few minutes to calm down can allow me to be the kind of mom I want to be.
- Don’t be superwoman. Pushing past your limits takes you from the land of control to the land of “I have no control and can snap in a split second.” Know your limits and take action to calm down before going past them. Do not think that you have unlimited willpower and patience. None of us do.
- Removing yourself is not failure. For whatever reason, when I have to lock myself in my bedroom to cool down, it feels like a failure. It’s not. Remind yourself that it’s a success! Think of how awesome it will feel to go into another room, take some deep breaths, then come back and talk to your child with the kind of respect they deserve.
- Come up with a plan for the future:
- Can you prepare ahead of time? (i.e. Getting up a few minutes early to have oatmeal and dog food ready before getting them up for the day.)
- Do you need to introduce a new discipline technique? This one is a little catch 22. You may be losing your cool because your kids are acting poorly, but they may be acting poorly because that’s what they see. However, there are legitimate situations where your child may need some discipline. It is their job to push our buttons. They are exploring the boundaries of what is acceptable. It is our job to show them how to deal with problems in life.
- Role play in your mind steps you’ll take when you feel yourself getting aggravated. It can be so helpful to have a plan in place ahead of time. In the moment, it’s hard to think straight. Having a plan ahead of time allows you to take action immediately.
It is possible to become a calm mom, no matter where you are at right now and no matter how long you’ve been there. It takes time and effort to be intentional, but it is worth it. It broke my heart when I saw my two-year-old son scream in rage and realize that he learned it from me. I’ve been intentionally working on my temper for a couple of months now and the results are worth every minute of effort. I’m watching as my son is able to calm himself down and talk to me with respect…because that’s what he sees from me. #proudmom
I’d love it if you could try this out and let me know. What worked, what didn’t? What tweaks did you make? Let’s all learn from each other in our quest to become calm moms!
Yesterday, I talked about the fussy chair and how it has worked wonders for my family. This morning I was perusing Facebook and came across a post of a mom who has resorted to yelling at her kids as a way to get rid of her frustrations. Comments about how moms feel like the worst mom on Earth when they yell proceeded.
You are not a bad mom if you yell. You are not a bad mom if your child watches too much TV or you forgot to send out Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/Christmas/etc. cards. You are not a bad mom if every birthday is a cupcake from Walmart and a trip to the local playground.
First off, if you feel you’re failing at this whole parenting thing, that is a good sign. It means you care. Someone who is truly a bad parent would yell and scream and act irrationally…and feel justified in their actions. You know the old saying, “The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one”? When you feel guilty, ashamed or frustrated with your behavior, that is you admitting there is a problem.
Secondly, we give our kids a break when they have bad behavior. Why not do the same for ourselves? When a toddler throws a tantrum, we acknowledge that the behavior is bad but we insist that they are a “good kid.” Do the same for yourself and give yourself a break. Yelling at your kids is bad behavior, but it does not immediately mean that you are a bad mom.
Lastly, bad behavior is a problem if it persists. Let this be your wake up call to search for a solution. You would love to be the mom who calmly deals with tantrums and has everything planned out ahead of time. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about creating a plan. Make the resolution to become a calm mom!