A Silly Simple Way to Stop Snapping at Kids
Have you ever wondered how you can stop a day from going downhill before it starts?
I’ve mentioned that one of the first steps in getting a handle on anger or yelling is knowing our anger triggers – this week I found something else that totally helped me not snap. It may sound silly, or too simple, but I want to share and see if it helps you too.
I realized I need to listen to what I’m rehearsing in my head.
Here’s what I mean – we were about to leave the library on Wednesday and I looked around and couldn’t find my 10 year old. I had an arm full of books, two other hungry kids and I was really annoyed he’d disappeared. That’s when I noticed what I was rehearsing in my head. I was preparing the annoyed rant I would say when I found him. I was already planning how I would go, “James! Come ON! If it’s time to go you don’t..blah, blah blah….”.
When I noticed I was planning a rant it stopped me. I thought, “I don’t want to spend the afternoon all steamed up.”
I didn’t exactly feel calm, but it was enough to get me to pause my negative thinking. Suddenly my son came around a bookshelf. Because I was quiet, he spoke first, “Oh there you are Mama, I’ve been looking for you!”
We left with everyone’s spirits intact, and because I’d stayed calm I was able to kindly, in the car say, “Hey next time when we’re checking out please don’t leave to look at the fish.” and he could hear me because he wasn’t on the defensive.
So that’s it, my simple and possibly helpful realization that if I notice I am planning a rant, it may be better to interrupt those thoughts.
We become what we rehearse. Sometimes it really helps to use a kind voice even if we have to fake it.
What do you think? Do you ever notice yourself rehearsing a rant? Do you have any tips for stopping it from coming out of your mouth? 🙂
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I think about how yelling/ranting is the lazy answer. It means I am either too far away and too lazy to get up and go to where they are, or I am too lazy to come up with a thoughtful and kind way to teach them to do better next time. So, I try to remember to get close, get low, and tell them how to correct the problem or do better next time rather than trying to make them feel terrible. I don’t know that I am trying to make them feel bad and ashamed in the moment, but that is what I am doing when I rant. My lead up to a rant is also due to lazy parenting – I am busy with work and not focused on them, and then I am mad at them for needing my attention. Or, I did not properly engage or prepare them for the situation. We had a great time at the post office the other day because I told them interesting information about the post office and how it is connected to our mail box, and I gave them some things to look for when they got there. Each kid had a job to help get the stamps out of the machine. It took more thought, but it was way better than the usual trip where I am in my own world and mad at them for being rowdy children distracting me.
I like your suggestions and techniques! I too find acting totally ridiculous helps calm my nerves, stop me from snapping and change the mood of my children as well. Then we are able to calmly talk about it.
Thanks for the tip. I didn’t see from that point of view. I just realize that it happens to me too. I shall think first before acting.
This is helpful, both in terms of the practice of watching the “set up” for harsh communication, but also as an example of how much our quality of life is improved by addressing “tone violations” as parents (and the anger/frustration underneath). Your work helps me stay aware and to find a pathway toward the life I want for myself and my family! Thanks!!
Thanks Li, I know the more mindful I am of where my communication is coming from, the easier it is for me to make choices about that communication 🙂
Thanks so much for this insight. It has helped immensely.
You’re welcome Leslie, thanks for reading.
Simple but effective. Thanks for sharing!