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Struggling with parenting anger is hard! Even if you know all the tips and strategies that are meant to help you be a peaceful parent, putting them into practice in the heat of the moment is not easy!
When I first started my journey to becoming a calmer mom, I had a big list of calming ideas to help me overcome challenging parenting moments. But when I got triggered my emotions seemed so powerful that none of these ideas seemed to work. Even if I managed to act in a peaceful way, the anger was building up inside of me and was affecting my life, my marriage, and my joy in motherhood.
If you struggle with managing your anger as a parent, I’m pretty sure that you know how it feels to not be able to control your emotions when your child acts out, even if you have the best intentions of being calm and gentle. The truth is that in the heat of the moment, taking 3 deep breaths will not be enough to calm you down. It takes a lot more than this to fight anger!
What many people miss when it comes to calming strategies is that they can’t work if there is no self-regulation plan in place for the moments when you get upset. In the heat of the moment, you won’t be able to put any calm down ideas into practice unless you are first able to stop yourself from reacting to the trigger.
This is why today I want to share with you a 3-step plan that can help you change the way you react when you get triggered. It is not a magical solution and it takes time and practice to turn it into a habit, but it works! It helped me overcome many stressful situations and I’m sure it can do the same for you!
The 3-step plan to stop reacting when triggered
What makes anger so powerful is the fact that it sends our brain an alarm signal. When we get angry, we feel like it’s urgent to react even though in most cases this is not true.
e.g. When your child misbehaves you might feel the urge to control that behavior immediately. When you are angry, it might feel like it’s an emergency to intervene and “repair” the situation. But unless someone is in danger, there is no real emergency and no need to react immediately.
Reminding yourself that the situation is not an emergency will allow you to change the way you react to it.
Here is how you can shift your emotional state when triggered:
1. Stop your reaction
Pressing the stop button when you get angry is the thing that has the most impact on how you will handle the situation. I know that this can feel hard to do when you get upset, but if you start practicing this every day, it will become a lot easier.
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained brain scientist, has studied how anger affects our amygdala (the part of our limbic system that is responsible for our emotional response to anger).
She also developed the 90-second rule that offers a very helpful insight into why pressing our stop button when triggered is so important. Here is how she explains this rule:
“When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. (…) This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.” (Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor)
What this means is that if we can resist the urge to act on our anger for 90 seconds, we give us the opportunity to replace the angry reaction with a peaceful response.
Dr. Laura Markham, parenting coach and author of several positive parenting books, recommends a method called “Stop, Drop, and Breathe” for the moments when we get angry. As simple as it may seem, this method is very effective. Here are the steps that she recommends:
- Stop what you are doing or saying (even if you are in the middle of an angry sentence)
- Drop your agenda (and step away from the conflict)
- Take 10 deep breaths to help you slowly let go of the anger.
The most important thing to remember about this first step of your self-regulation plan is that if you are able to expand the time between the trigger and your reaction you will be in a much better position to fight your anger and come up with a peaceful response.
2. Let go of anger
This is probably the most challenging step because it requires you to make a conscious decision to let go of your anger. As we talked in the first 2 modules, you are the only one who can make a choice between controlling your anger and letting your anger control you.
One helpful way to remind yourself to let go of anger is to use a phrase that can help you shift your emotional state.
The phrase you choose is entirely up to you. I’ve gathered here a few phrases to inspire you, but you can create your own mantra if you think that this will work better for you.
- “Always choose love” / “Only peace today” (The love for your child is the greatest motivation to stop your anger so use this reminder to remind yourself to put love first.)
- “I can handle this”/ “I can let go of this”
- “It’s not an emergency” (This is a phrase that Dr. Laura Markham recommends because it helps us remember that there is no need to react immediately and we can allow ourselves some time to calm down.)
- “She / he is just a child” (Reminding ourselves that kids act childish or immature because they are children brings a perspective shift that can help us calm down.)
3. Use a calming strategy to regain your calm
This is the moment when calming strategies can really help! Once you stopped your initial reaction and made a choice to let go of anger, you will need an easy strategy to help you eliminate the tension in your body and regain your calm.
Calming techniques work differently for every person, so the best way to find out what works for you is to test them out. Trying different approaches will help you create a personalized list of ideas to use anytime you get angry.
⭐ Click here to download a printable list of calm down ideas and start putting them into practice one by one until you find the strategies that work best for you! Remember that these ideas only really work when they are part of a self-regulation plan so don’t ignore the first two steps mentioned above.
I hope that the self-regulation plan will help you become a more peaceful parent and change the way you react when triggered! Turning angry reactions into calm responses is such a precious gift to offer yourself and your kids! It will help you feel happier about your relationship with your kids and build the peaceful home you always wanted for you family!
If you need more support in dealing with parenting anger check out these articles:
- The most important things to do after yelling at your kids
- The one thing that helped me become the positive parent I wanted to be.
>> Want to remember this? Save these ideas to your favorite Pinterest board!
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