Having a calm mom matters a lot for every child, but fighting anger as a parent is not always an easy thing. Ever since I became a mother, I tended to get angry more easily, probably because I felt overwhelmed and exhausted in my new role as a parent. But I realized that I cannot raise a calm and happy child if I don’t learn to manage my own emotions and to be a positive model for him. So I started a journey of learning to be a calm mom and to react in a gentle way even if I feel angry and upset.
I’m sharing here the lessons I’ve learned along the way. If you also want to become a calmer parent, I hope you’ll find here the inspiration you need.
Sometimes we believe that the child is the one “guilty” for our angry reactions, but the truth is that we are the only ones responsible for managing our emotions and keeping our anger in control. Our emotional state is the thing that makes the difference between moments when we overreact to our children’s behavior and moments when we manage to remain calm.
The way we react to the same behavior may be different according to how we feel in that moment. For example: if my son spills milk on the table in a moment when I feel good, I don’t give much importance to this and I just ask him to be more careful next time. But if I feel tired or stressed, I tend to overreact and to say something less emphatic (like “I can’t believe that you spilled the milk again!”, “You always spill your milk”). Also, when we need to go out and Bogdan refuses to cooperate, my reaction is clearly influenced by my emotional state. If I feel good, I have more patience and I find a playful way to convince him. If I am already angry, it is more difficult to communicate with him in a gentle way and I tend to become upset and to get into a negative mood. Even if I manage not to show this to my son, it affects me and I cannot be as patient and playful as I would wish.
The fact that I acknowledged the important influence of my emotional state on the way I react to my child’s behavior has helped me to become more aware of my feelings and to learn to control them better.
The next step after acknowledging the importance of my emotional state was to identify those triggers that usually make me angry. I also discovered that there are some moments of the day when I am less capable of remaining calm, usually in the evening, when I feel tired after a busy day.
Then I tried to prevent the triggers and to avoid the difficult moments. Here are two changes that helped me:
– After I noticed that the moments when Bogdan becomes totally uncooperative are one of the greatest triggers that get me angry, I implemented a special time we spend together before every important moment when I need his cooperation. In this way, he receives some special attention from me and feels more willing to cooperate. This change prevented a lot of moments when normally I would have felt angry and upset.
– I also changed our daily routine to make sure that I can have some quiet time when I need it. I try to alternate the moments when we play or do activities together with moments when I can focus on myself and do something I like. If I am alone at home with Bogdan and I feel tired or stressed, I give him a special toy or activity to keep him busy while I have a break. If my husband is at home, I just ask him to spend some time with Bogdan to allow me to rest.
Preventing the moments when we get angry is the best thing we can do, but it is not always possible. When we get to the point when we already feel angry and we risk losing our temper, we must find a way to stop and to manage to have an adequate reaction in front of our children. I read some time ago about the “stop and think” method, but I only implemented it recently and it has great effects!
The idea is very simple: when I feel very angry and I risk overreacting to my child’s behavior, I just stop and think about what happens: Is the child’s behavior really as bad as it seems or am I just exhausted and less capable of calming down? How would I react to the same thing if I were more relaxed and calm? What is the reason behind the child’s behavior?
Answering these 3 questions provides me a better understanding of the situation and helps me adjust my reaction. Sometimes children engage in a negative behavior because they feel disconnected from us and this is their way of showing us that they need more attention and love from us. I always keep that in mind when I see my son behaving negatively and it enables me see the reason behind it and help my child overcome the negative emotions that overwhelm him. As soon as he manages to deal with his emotions, his behavior will improve and I will face less stressful situations as a parent.
If I am in a moment when I really feel that anger takes over, I prefer to take a break and wait until I can calm down before dealing with the issue that has triggered my anger. It is like a time-out for me: I say to my child that I need a moment to calm down and I sit somewhere alone for some minutes. When I feel that I am calm again and I can control my feelings, I go back to my child and we discuss what happened. This helps me avoid saying things out of anger or raising my voice when I feel angry.
I also try to have regular “me time” when I have a break from my role as a mother and I can do something else. These breaks allow me to recharge my batteries and to come back in a more playful and happy mood.
[ I wrote here about how I find time for me (and work) as a stay-at-home mom ]
One great way to fight against anger is to talk about it! Studies show that the fact that we manage to put our negative feelings into words helps us overcome them and understand better what emotional wounds we have.
When I feel that something is repeatedly bothering me and makes me get angry often, it really helps me to talk about it with my husband or with a friend. This discussion allows me to understand what triggers the anger and inspires me to find solutions. I also sometimes talk to my child about anger, but in a different way. I tell him that some behaviors are making me angry and that I do my best to deal with the anger and to prevent it. This sort of discussion can be a great opportunity to talk about his anger too and to find solutions together for the difficult moments.
I always keep in mind that we are role models for our children and that the way we deal with our emotions teaches them to control their own. These open discussions have had a wonderful effect on me and I have even discovered some things about me that I had never realized before. If you have difficult moments when you feel that anger takes control over you, I totally recommend to you to try to tell a friend about the things that you are going through. It could really make a difference!
– I try to prevent getting angry by acknowledging my triggers and working on improving my emotional state.
– I use connection time and special time with my child to build a stronger relationship between us and to prevent the negative behavior that makes me angry.
– I use the “stop and think” method to be sure that I don’t say or do things out of anger.
– If I am overwhelmed by my emotions, I take a time-out to calm down.
– I am focusing more on learning to deal with strong emotions and I discuss my difficult moments anytime I feel that the negative feelings affect my life.
Crazy mad: five ways to ward off parent anger (written by Patty Wipfler, the founder of Hand in Hand Parenting)
5 Things To Do When You Feel Your Temper Rising (a wonderful article about how to choose love and to be gentle with our children even when we are mad)
You CAN Stop Yelling. Here’s your 10 step plan. (if you feel the urge to yell when you get angry, this is a great plan to stop it).
My journey of becoming a calm mom is an ongoing one and I try to be better every day at managing my own emotions. I know this is very important for raising my child in a gentle way and I am willing to do my best to accomplish this! It’s not always easy to stay calm, but I hope that I will get better on this as time goes on.
If you are dealing with the same struggle, I wish you to find what works best for you! It can be challenging to learn to deal with strong emotions in a gentle way, but it is totally worth the effort when it comes to raising happy and confident kids!