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I know every single mother, even the most sweet-tempered, has had moments of near (or complete!) meltdown. Can you relate? Moments where you are at your wit’s end and you just want to scream. Maybe throw a tantrum that would rival even the ugliest from your children.
I actually had one of these moments today. I was trying to finish a freezer cooking session, and my son desperately wanted my full attention. I was elbows-deep in cooking, wrapping, and bagging, and he was pulling on my legs, throwing fits all around me. What good timing! I guess he was helping me practice what I preach!
Even when I am the most tempted to completely lose my cool, I know that if I give in to the words that want to come out, I will regret it later. I have, and I did. Every time. Plus, yelling at my son when he frustrates or angers me is not behavior in harmony with my vision for motherhood.
So what’s a mom to do when she’s at her wit’s end?
Here are six tips I’ve used to keep control when I feel like I’m going to lose it:
6 Ways to Keep Control In Moments of Anger
Take a beat or two before you say anything or react. Program yourself to insert that space anytime you feel like you’re going to lose control. (This works great for husbands, too! 😉 )
- Take some deep breaths
Not only will this give you some extra time to cool down, but it will also help you reduce stress. Deep abdominal breathing increases oxygen flow to the brain and can actually lower your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure, and relieve muscle tension.
- Smile & laugh
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been about to yell at Aidan and he makes a face and I start chuckling instead. It ends up being a total mood-changer, enabling me to move forward calmly rather than angrily. Even when he’s crying, I can stillI employ this tactic. It’s amazing how my entire body changes when I just start smiling at how precious he is or laughing at the situation. I’m a firm believer that you can’t laugh and stay angry at the same time. That doesn’t mean you just let the behavior slide. Even if it requires discipline, at least you’ll be positioned to tackle it with love while maintaining your joy.
- Think of as many positive things about the person/situation as you can
This strategy has worked wonders for my marriage, motherhood, job, you name it! Your thoughts have so much power over your heart and, subsequently, your words and actions. What you’re dwelling on is ultimately going to determine your attitude. If you’re constantly thinking negatively about your husband, you’re probably not going to feel very lovey-dovey towards him anytime soon.Likewise, if you’re always thinking about how difficult being a mom is, how frustrating your kids are, or how much of a burden your life is, you probably won’t be very joyful.
Instead of rehearsing your lists of what’s wrong with your life and family members, make a list of everything you have and what you’re grateful for. I love the saying, “What if we only had tomorrow what we were thankful for today.” It never fails to turn my pity party around when I start thinking about all I have to be thankful for.
- Remind yourself of the repercussions & ask if it’s worth it
The words we say and how we say them have lasting impacts, and we should remind ourselves of that each time we’re tempted to use them to make ourselves feel better (which they never do anyway, do they?). I can think of no better way to say this than this quote from one of my favorite books – Keep It Shut, by Karen Ehman:
“Don’t say anything permanently painful because you’re temporarily ticked off.”
I do lose it sometimes with my son, and when I start yelling at him, not only does it not ever improve the situation, it does something to his little face that looks like I’ve just crushed his spirit. Even at his age, I can see that my yelling and angry words have a significantly different effect on him than my words of stern, but controlled, discipline. And truth be told, when I yell, it’s never about his best interest, and always about my own feelings.
- Walk Away
When all else fails and you just can’t remain calm, remove yourself from the situation and take a break! This is much easier when your spouse is available to tag-team with you, but it’s possible by yourself, too. Make sure your kids are in a safe place, then go in another room for a couple minutes to cool off.
I am still a work in progress in this area, so I would love to hear more tips to staying calm in a heated moment. Share your tips with me in the comments below!
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