Do you feel like an angry mom and struggle with losing your temper often at your kids? Read on to find out how to stop being an angry mom!
Anger is often a “safe” cover for other emotions like: fear, frustration, stress, hurt, or grief. It helps if you are able to look deep and see what is causing your anger.
When I was going through divorce, I noticed that I was super short-tempered with my little girls. When I finally stopped and looked at what was bothering me, I realized the stress of the divorce was manifesting as anger and I was taking it out on my kids.
I felt sad, but also was relieved to know what was happening and this gave me a chance to make some changes.
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How to Stop Being an Angry Mom
Let’s look at some things that will help you identify what makes you angry and what steps you can take in the moment.
Why are you angry?
The first step to discover how to stop being an angry mom includes understanding what is make you angry.
Here are 4 common anger triggers for moms:
1. You Need Alone Time
When I first became a single mom, I had my 2 girls (under age 5) with me all. the. time. It was so hard and terribly frustrating. I lost my temper a lot (because of the stress of the divorce, my unexpected lifestyle change and the fact that I hardly had any “me time”).
It was so hard! I didn’t have a lot of extra money to afford a regular babysitter so I make a supreme effort to put my kids to bed early every night so I could have some “alone time” to destress.
Thankfully, I also had wonderful friends who often offered to watch my girls while I went out by myself sometimes.
Find ways to make sure you get time to yourself on a regular basis. If you are able, get out of the house and away from your kids at least weekly – go to a coffee shop with a good book or take a walk.
If you can’t afford a babysitter, negotiate with a friend to swap babysitting each other’s kids for free.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
So many irritating toddler and little kid behaviors are completely normal from a developmental standpoint, and yet, as moms we often expect our kids to act like, well, grown-ups!
When I find myself starting to get angry, it helps to ask myself “Is this normal behavior?” (irritating? Maybe! But is it normal kid behavior? Often the answer is yes.)
If it is, then I can either let it go or set a firm boundary for my kids.
Yes, it’s normal for your toddler to want to touch everything and explore. If you’re getting upset because she won’t listen to you when you tell her not to touch the glass knick-knacks, move them or put her in a safe place where she can touch everything.
Set boundaries with your kids and be firm and calm about keeping them:
- You can run around outside in the backyard, but not the house.
- I don’t mind if you sing that song over and over, but you need to use an inside voice (or go to another room).
3. Inconsistent Parenting
Kids thrive on routine and knowing what to expect, especially from you. If you stick to routines and are consistent, this will help their behavior, which in turn can help you keep calm.
When you are inconsistent in your house rules or reactions to their behavior, this creates frustration for yourself and confusion for your kids.
Make sure you have:
- daily routines
- consistent expectations
For example, if you let your kids be messy all the time and then yell at them randomly once a month to clean up, it will be frustrating for you and them. Start with setting an expectation.
In our home, we have a house rule, before you get a new toy out, put away the toys you were using. We also clean up as a family at the end of the day and make sure all toys are put back in the toy room.
Related: 6 Simple Ways to Organize Kids’ Toys
This can be hard for any parent, but as a single mom, I find it challenging because I sometimes struggle with guilt over not having the “perfect family” but, honestly, kids will be much better off with solid boundaries and consistent parenting in a loving household.
4. Being Just a Mom
As a single mom, I find it so hard to switch from working mom or just plain mom to “me”. I think a lot of moms find it hard to not get lost in “I’m the mom” all the time. It helps to have a hobby and regular adult friends you can see without your kids.
One thing that I’ve done for myself is that I joined a book club and arrange for a babysitter one night a month (from a friend, so it’s free!) so I can get out and be me.
Find something that you can do – a hobby, a side job you really enjoy, a volunteer opportunity that really excites you – and make time for it!
What to Do About Your Anger (in the Moment)?
The next step in how to stop being an angry mom is to know what to do about anger in the moment.
So, what does this mean?
The first step is to try and be aware of your feeling and rising anger before it gets out of control.
Take a breath and stop and assess: What is making me angry?
1. Be Aware of Your Triggers
Every mom has different things that trigger her anger. Some examples of things that easily make me get angry:
- kids arguing or whining
- lack of sleep
- no alone time
- overworking (no time for fun)
- not spending time outside the home (with other adults)
- wanting to be in control all the time
If I notice that my anger is rising and I stop a minute to find the cause, this helps a ton:
Oh, I hate it when the kids are whining! Let me separate them into different rooms so we can all get a break.
I need some time to myself! Let me arrange for a babysitter to come over (and in the meantime I’ll let the kids watch a show).
2. Change How You React to Your Triggers
When you are aware of your triggers, you can take steps to change your reactions. This might take a lot of practice!
Write a list of what you can do when that trigger comes up. Be practical and realistic on what solutions you can use in different situations.
I didn’t get enough sleep last night, and I’m super stressed. I can put a movie in for my kids and take a nap.
She’s screaming at the top of her lungs, again! I will take 3 deep breaths and remind myself that this is normal toddler behavior. Then, I’ll distract her with that favorite toy.
3. Know What Calms You
Find some specific techniques or short (in the moment) activities that that help you calm down and defuse your anger:
- take some long, deep breaths (This seems silly, but slow deep breathing can slow your heart rate and help calm you down.)
- put on some calm, happy music
- take a break for a cup of tea
- get a little exercise (do some jumping jacks, march in place – exercise can help reduce stress and shift your focus)
If you need to, put your baby or toddler in a safe place (like their crib), and walk away for a little bit to take a break and regroup.
Maybe you need to set firm limits with your toddler (and accept the fact that he might scream when you do so). You can learn to be calm and set (and hold) a firm limit while not losing your temper and screaming.
The key is keeping your voice and body calm.
Once I kept a firm limit with my daughter and managed to stay calm and collected while she was irritated and crying (and at the point when I would often have lost it!). She eventually calmed down and I ended up crying from the stress. Hey, I was happy that I made some progress – I didn’t scream and completely lose it!
4. Have Realistic Expectations
One last note, you need to have realistic expectations.
- expect to change your reactions overnight – takes time and practice!
- always be a perfectly happy and peaceful mom – no one is! we all have bad days!
You are allowed to feel your feelings – anger, frustration, irritation. How you manage them and what you do is key to a stable, healthy emotional life and being a great example to your kids.
If you mess up, be the first to model how to apologize to your kids and repair the relationship. I grew up with a dad who had a terrible temper that he used very often and I only remember maybe one time that he apologized.
Looking back, I think it would have greatly helped me to see him actively acknowledging his mistakes and making amends when necessary. Do that for your kids.
Final Thoughts on How to Stop Being an Angry Mom
Yes, you can stop being an angry mom!
Make sure that you take time to meet your own needs as a human being and then learn to be aware of your triggers, change how you react to them, and actively practice calming techniques to help you bring your emotions down to a calmer level.
If necessary, seek therapy to help you work through difficult emotions or memories.
What are some things that you do to manage your anger as a mom?
One of my favorite books for further reading on this subject: