Why do I yell at my children? Resolving to Overcome My Anger

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One of my least favorite things about parenting is the amount of yelling I do. I yell to get my child’s attention. I yell at them just before they hurt themselves. I yell at them when they make dumb choices. I yell at them to be quiet (good example there Mom!). I yell at them to go somewhere else for a minute. I yell at them to clean up, to hurry up, to stop, to go play, to get dressed, to walk. And I don’t really love it so much.

So, why do you I yell at my children? Especially when I am a lousy yeller.

I am a lousy yeller because I suck at yelling. I’m no good at it. When I start yelling, the thoughts stop flowing and my words turn incoherent.  Essentially, as I’m raising my voice, I’m getting stupider.  Nothing comes out right. I stop mid-sentence, mid-thought, mid-yell, and try to figure out what exactly the punishment is supposed to be for the current offense. I lose my steam by pausing mid-rage, thereby losing my scary, angry mom vibe that I was trying to go for. Because now all of a sudden Mom is just yelling about nothing, and isn’t making sense. She’s gone crazy.

So I wonder why do I yell at my kids?

Because, truth be told, I don’t like yelling and confrontation, or being a bully, or a jerk. I don’t like arguing (despite what my husband might say).  And yelling at children? Yeah, makes me feel kind of dumb and like all those things I don’t want to be.

When I was a teenager, I clearly recall a member of our church – who I greatly admired, respected, and looked up to – telling me that he didn’t know anger until he became a parent.  And I was aghast! How could someone say such a thing about raising sweet, wonderful children? How could he say that parenthood – the highest and noblest and most blest calling in life – made him angrier than he’d ever been?  But, then I became a parent. Then I understood, especially after my twins turned into toddlers and then into preschoolers.

I never yelled at my husband (nor do I now really) like I sometimes yell at my twin daughters.  They get me so angry!! Why can’t they just listen and obey? (See my post about being weary in well doing… for our children.)  So, I yell at them, something that is totally not in my natural nature. I never picked fights or generally shouted at people while growing up. I hate drama.  So, it’s crazy that being a parent has turned me into this person I don’t want to be!I'm a lousy yeller, so why do I yell at my children? I don't like yelling. I resolve to change my reaction to my anger as a parent. whatsupfagans.com

But God gets mad too

And it makes me think about why God would give us agency in the first place (because it’s our children’s agency that causes us all this stress and anger afterall!)? Why would he want His children to have the ability to hate, rebel, protest, and fight against Him? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just make us obedient organisms that sang His praises all day long instead?  Why would God want to give us all the opportunity to come to Earth, only to provoke His own wrath, indignation, jealously, and fury? Heavenly Father does get mad. Jesus, the only perfect person to ever live on Earth, got mad! Jesus got mad at the money changers, the hypocrites, and even his apostles. God gets mad! And he gets mad at us, his precious children, who are the light and love and glory of his whole being.  The good thing about this realization, is that this means it is perfectly okay to get mad and to get angry (and probably even to yell). Whew!

But, as to why we are blessed to have these emotions, I don’t know. I cannot see into the mind of God, nor am I a religious scholar. But, I bet strong emotions, and even anger must be an important part in refining us into God-like people, otherwise God wouldn’t have sent us to this Earth and commanded us to be fruitful and to multiply, because children can make us crazy mad!

The thing about anger and frustration and disappointment, is that, while not the most desirable emotions to feel, they help us navigate our lives. All emotions do.  It is our strong emotions, the feelings of our hearts, that lead us to make good or bad choices. And that is what our life comes down to – our choices, our responses to the emotions of life.

And my response to my feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, and annoyance toward my children have been less than desirable. While not all yelling is bad, wrong, or sinful (sometimes it’s needed to stop a kid from hurting themselves for example), the way I’ve been yelling and responding to my children has not come from a righteous place. It has not come from God.

My Resolution

One of my goals, one of my New Years Resolutions, is to stop yelling. While all stoppage of yelling, forever, is very unlikely, my short-term, year-long goal is to find better ways of disciplining my children. I want to find better ways of handling my strong negative emotions than lashing out like a crazy, screaming, tantruming child, you know, like the same one I’m trying to calm down from their crazy, emotional tantrum.  I want to teach my children how to effectively handle their anger and frustrations, and lashing out at others by yelling, is not such a great example.  I want answers to my question of why do I yell?  I want to get to the root of my problem so that I can be a better person, and therefore a better parent for my children this year.

If anyone has some helpful tips for me, I’d love to hear them, because I have already yelled multiple times in 2014!

Tell me: what is one of your goals to being a better parent in 2014?

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  1. says

    Oh, the thoughts this post conjured. I’ve had plenty of angry phases. Enough that I can’t consolidate it to parenthood only but since that is the post’s focus, I’ll keep it there too. I’ve noticed that the worst of my tempers are centered on control.

    When I was in my angriest stage of parenthood I turned to my dad for help and insight. He had a short fuse when we were growing up but now he is one of the most calm people I know. I asked him how he overcame his anger. His first response, was that his kids grew up and moved out. (ha ha) his second response was that he realized that when he lost his temper he was absolutely giving all will and control over to the Adversary to steer him.

    That ran chills up my spine and has stuck with me. When we lose our temper, we give away our self control.

    The other thing that I had to take into consideration in my anger management was the why? Why were these small things causing me to lose it? I think it comes down to control again. Only this time it’s not our self control we lose, its our control on others. Which, when you think about it, we never have so why are we losing it over someone’s choices that we cannot control? Yes we can influence but we cannot control.

    Anyway I’ve already taken up my word allotment for a blog comment but the gist is that when I keep my focus on my control and not that of others, the yelling significantly lessened. Understanding the stage of development of your kids (and others) provides perspective that can not only help us stay calm but provide the insight to be better and speak to others in a way that they can understand.

    Good luck with your goal.

    • says

      Great comment Gwen! I appreciate it! And your dad is so right. When we lose our temper, we give control over to the adversary, which is why I think yelling (at my children/others) is wrong. It’s not according to God’s plan. I’ll have to keep in mind the control thing. It definitely what makes parenting hard. We want our kids to listen, obey, and get along, make smart choices, etc, but they don’t, and the truth of the matter is that we can’t really make them do what we want (nor should we). We can’t control another. Thanks for the help!

  2. chelsea Decker says

    I used to feel like that at school when I’d yell at the students, and I felt even worse because they weren’t even my kids. But I’ve gotten better. Sometimes I have to yell over them to get their attention, but I’m not yelling “at” them. I just always tried to focus on my voice when I talked. I would talk stern, but not loud. And usually that had more of an effect. Those teachers in high school who yelled, we usually just started to ignore them after awhile and didn’t listen.

  3. says

    I have the same problem. My daughter threw a 20 minute tantrum in a Starbucks today and I handled it without yelling. At the end, we left in smiles. When we got to the car, I started to yell then stopped short. I realized that my “parenting” skills are better when I’m in public. So that’s one of my strategies – pretend I have an ever-present audience watching me

    • says

      It’s a totally viable strategy too Yetunde! I’ve done it before. It can totally help calm you down if you think about how others would view you (as dumb as that is).

  4. RebeccaD says

    Teaching middle school cured me of yelling. Guess what pre-teens do when you yell? (Spoiler alert for parents of young kids!) They laugh. Because they just won. Or they yell back – because you just gave them permission to. It is a fairly crushing loss of authority either way.

    I’m only 15 months into the parenting gig. So far, I have other vices than yelling (like criticizing my husband – NOT GOOD!!). Managing the anger is really hard. I’m looking for constructive (or at least not destructive) places for my anger to go in 2014. Best of luck on your resolution!

    • says

      Ha! Love your middle school experience Rebecca! And it’s so true! Eventually kids get to that point (the stinkers)! We all have our vices for sure. Good luck with yours this year!

  5. Rachael Block says

    I think your words strike a chord with most of us parents. At least it does in myself….I often have outbursts and wonder later, who was that? Who am I becoming? Why am I letting them get to me? I have no advice as I struggle as well, but, seeing it in writing by someone else is helpful….good luck!!

  6. says

    I think it just comes with the frustration, exhaustion and being overwhelmed as a parent. Especially with young children. I remember losing it when my kids were younger and I look back now and wonder why? It gets easier as your kids get older. I find the only time I yell these days (and it’s rare now) are when I’m tired or irritable, when it’s more to do with myself than my kids. But now I’ve learned to apologize.

    • says

      It is definitely more to do with ME than my kids. I’m choosing to react as strongly as I am… *Sigh* I do think it will get easier, and it can get easier if I try harder to manage myself now, even though they are young. Thanks for your comment!

  7. says

    Good morning! Your post is among this week’s featured. It’ll be shared across social media and pinned to pinterest. Thanks for linking up at A Mama’s Story and help yourself to a featured button. 🙂

  8. Jenni Hanson says

    Thanks for sharing! My oldest just turned 4, and my girls are 3 and 2. I am also expecting #4 in 2 months! That being said…. my life is chaotic at times, and I loose my temper, and yell more than I’d like. I have beat myself up about it, a lot, and felt like a horrible mom. Although I am not proud that I yell, it is good to know I am not alone, and many moms go through a yelling phase. Thank you for your transparency in this.

    • says

      Jenni – You are welcome! I have heard from many who, with the young kids especially, go through a yelling phase. You are definitely not alone. If you want to change, I bet you can, just give yourself some time. Yesterday was my first really good day so far. Let’s hope I can do again today. Good luck and hang in (and congrats on #4 coming soon!)

  9. Maggie Kaz says

    My children are now 20, 16 and 13 and I am still yelling! This morning the monster hair problem arose again!

    I give my 13 year old plenty of time to get up and get ready for school, but each morning the tension builds up as the hairy problem once again defeats me and my daughter. I comb her long hair, put it into a nice pony tail and then the tantrum starts. It isn’t in the right place, it is too high, it is too low, I have left out a few strands, the hair band isn’t the right colour and so it goes on. I can feel the frustration building. So I say do it yourself and she says she will. Then she gets frustrated and yells that no one is helping her as again the hair refuses to be tamed. She asks me again to do her hair. I am weary and don’t want to, I dislike this hair confrontation. I battle again and think I have won only for my daughter to pull it out again and re do it.

    The time is getting on, the bus is about due at the bus stop, her bag is not packed, and she hasn’t had her breakfast yet. She starts panicking, sparks start to fly, I am getting frustrated again, these things, like getting bags ready, as I have said for years and years should be done the night before! I give up. I have tried to instruct my children but it seems there is a gene in our family that makes them revert back to toddler hood and thwarts my parenting skills.

    I have given up deciding that I will conquer my yelling, as I think it will be remedied when my children leave home. So my dear Katelyn don’t be too hard on yourself, parenting is a hard task and you have double trouble at one go.

    I have tried to instill in my kids that if we get angry or frustrated and start yelling as soon as we are able when things calm down we say sorry to each other. In a few moments time there will be a phone call from my 13 year old, oh there is goes, she is ringing to say sorry for getting upset with me and it gives me the opportunity to say sorry too. Our day begins again right now with those words “I am sorry, I love you, bye, have a nice day.”

    I can guarantee you that if you pray for the yelling to stop, God will and does give you many opportunities to practice the ‘stop yelling prayer.’ So be prepared for more instances of frustration to occur! I now don’t pray it as after 20 years of child rearing I am still nowhere nearer a solution. But what God has shown me instead is that my compassion has grown as I see my children now grappling with their own frustrations. I now say instead of the ‘stop yelling prayer’, the ‘thank you God for the challenges prayer’. Of course this is going to lead to more challenges as this is how we get practice, but the emphasis is on thanking rather than frustration. So I end up thanking God far more often and that is a good thing and I believe will produce more Grace and Compassion and turns a negative thing into a positive thing. Praise instead of curse. For example when my 16 year old girl is rude to me and answers back I am trying to say ‘Bless you Father for C, thank you for my beautiful daughter’ instead of immediately yelling back at her. Of course I am human and at times this isn’t the first thing on my lips, but it is a step forward.

    All said and done, we can only take a day at a time. God bless you Katelyn and God’s love be with you on your journey of parenthood.

    • says

      Maggie – Thank you for your kind (and poetic) words! This week has been a better week, and I think it is because I am looking at the yelling problem differently. I’m looking now at how what I do and say shows love. I’m taking deeper breaths, and being more patient. It’s not perfect, but overall, I think looking at the cause instead of the effect is definitely helping me. May God bless you and your hairy situation.

  10. says

    I too have been yelling too much! I do not yell at anyone else in this world, but my 4 kids I yell at daily! Ouch. I am working on being a quieter mom! I love your point that not all yelling is bad, that sometimes it’s needed. I am working on not crushing my kids spirit by yelling in 2014. Stopping by from T2D Link Up.

  11. tharp says

    Have you looked into the nurtured heart approach? I have 3 boys, a 4 yr old and twin 2.5 yr olds. Since I’ve been applying this approach life has been more calm in our house! Meltdowns are still happening, but not as often and don’t last long. Still lots of room for improvement, but we are getting there.

    • says

      I’ll have to look into it! I tell ya what, my now 4yo twins are driving me nuts lately, and it is not making it easy for me to stop yelling. I’m trying, but man the stubbornness and emotions are crazy right now. Thanks!


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