Can you relate to this scenario?
You wake up and spend 30 minutes coaxing your kid to get dressed for school while you rush to get ready for work.
They fight with you over what they want to wear, insisting on the same blue shirt they’ve worn every day this week.
You finally make it to the kitchen table for breakfast, only to have them refuse to take a single bite of food.
You try hard to keep your voice from rising, asking them nicely over and over again to please eat their breakfast.
“Eww, Mom, the yolk’s too runny.”
You’re not sure if this anger has been bubbling up inside you for a while now or if you just woke up extra irritable today. But something inside you has broken in two.
Your heart pounds and your hands shake as you let out a desperate yell in response:
“FINE, GO AHEAD AND STARVE!”
Alas, parenting rage has reared its ugly head.
Parenting Rage Is Real
What you’re experiencing is legitimate—and more common than you think.
Rage is the uncontrollable, monstrous sibling of anger. It’s an emotion we’re all prone to feeling—whether or not we like to admit it.
No one wants to be the scary mom shoving her cart down a grocery store aisle with a crying kid behind her. But when we feel rage, our families often bear the brunt of it.
As parents and caregivers, it’s our job to provide a safe and loving environment for our kids—not traumatize them with our uncontrollable meltdowns. And yet, we’re imperfect human beings who get tired and stressed and lose our tempers once in a while.
So, what now?
Managing the Fury You Feel
The good news is that parents and caregivers can take proactive steps to manage the fury we sometimes feel. Here are a few places to start:
Ask yourself, “what’s my unmet need?”
When we experience escalated feelings of stress, sadness, or anger, it’s because an unmet need has been continuously ignored or violated. It’s impossible to take care of your family’s needs when you yourself are drawing from an empty tank.
In the case of parental rage, sit with yourself for a moment and ask yourself what you really need. Are you stressed about work? Sleep deprived? Frustrated with your marriage? Perhaps you need your co-parent to step up and help out more with the kids.
Be aware of your triggers.
What behaviors send you careening over the edge? I suggest keeping a trigger journal to observe words or actions that set you into a rage.
If you notice that back talk always gets your temper flaring, do some inner work to find out why. Is there something from your own childhood that makes you react so strongly to your kids having a different opinion from you?
Being aware of our triggers helps us deal with the negative emotions associated with them—and hopefully react better next time we find ourselves in a triggering situation.
Yelling at your kid doesn’t make you a bad parent. It just means you’re human. Forgive yourself for the times you’ve lost your temper—and let your child know how sorry you are for your outburst. Move forward and commit to doing better next time.
Parenting rage may be real, but so is our love for our children. When we work on our own issues, we can learn to respond with gentleness and compassion instead of anger.
Love and Blessings,
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.