Help to Be a Better Mother ....

Updated on November 11, 2011
M.S. asks from Chicago, IL
19 answers

I know we all get hard on ourselves ... And say we are hard on our kids..... But I know that I am.... To a point that I feel it's affecting the way my son responds to others and I think the way he feels about himself.
I am always upset about something.. I'm always picking at stuff that I'm sure isnt necessary to explode about...
I just had a conversation with my son and explained what I need from him and what I want to change about myself. I told him I dont like being upset or yelling and he says ..."you are always yelling at us".... That really hurt......
For the past few years I have been wanting to see someone to talk to and maybe help me understand why I have all this anger and frustration......
So I guess my question is who do I see ????
Is there mom Counselors out there ????

I love my boys (7,6 and 3 year olds) they are truly great kids.. Respectful, helpful caring..... So why do I only find the stuff they do wrong..... ?????

I want help....
Thanks moms

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answers from Chicago on

The responses below are very helpful. I just want to say, even though you don't know me, that I am SO proud of you for reaching out. Going to a counselor is a wonderful idea. You won't regret it.

Best wishes to you!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Thanks for putting this out there. The responses are so helpful for me. Right now I am reading "Screamfree Parenting" which is giving me a different perspective. Thanks for reaching out and being honest - good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

Dr. Sears has a simple "5 ways parents can handle their anger" advice column here:

But aside from that, I would certainly speak to a family counselor if I were you. You and your kids deserve better.

1. Heal your angry past
Parenting can be therapeutic. It can show you where your problems are and motivate you to fix them. If your past is loaded with unresolved anger, take steps to heal yourself before you wind up harming your child. Studies have shown that children whose mothers often express anger are more likely to be difficult to discipline. Identify problems in your past that could contribute to present anger. Were you abused or harshly punished as a child? Do you have difficulty controlling your temper? Do you sense a lack of inner peace? Identify present situations that are making you angry, such as dissatisfaction with job, spouse, self, child. Remember, you mirror your emotions. If your child sees a chronically angry face and hears an angry voice, that's the person he is more likely to become.
2. Keep your perspective
Every person has an anger button. Some parents are so anger prone that when they explode the family dog hides. Try this exercise. First, divide your children's "misbehaviors" into smallies (nuisances and annoyances) which are not worth the wear and tear of getting angry about, and biggies (hurting self, others, and property) which demand a response, for your own sake and your child's.

Next, condition yourself so that you don't let the smallies bother you. Here are some "tapes" to play in your mind the next time you or your child spills something:
# "I'm angry, but I can control myself."
# "Accidents happen."
# "I'm the adult here."
# "I'm mad at the mess, not the child."
# "I'll keep calm, and we'll all learn something."

Rehearse this exercise over and over by play acting. Add in some lines for you to deliver:
# "oops! I made a mess."
# "I'll grab a towel."
# "It's ok! I'll help you clean it up." You may notice a big contrast between this and what you heard as a child. You may also notice it won't be as easy as it sounds.

When a real-life smallie occurs, you're more conditioned to control yourself. You can take a deep breath, walk away, keep cool, plan your strategy and return to the scene. For example, a child smears paint on the wall. You have conditioned yourself not to explode You're naturally angry and it's helpful for your child to see your displeasure. You go through your brief "no" lecture firmly, but without yelling. Then you call for a time-out. Once you have calmed down, insist the child (if old enough) help you clean up the mess. Being in control of your anger gives your child the message, "Mommy's angry, and she has a right to be this way. She doesn't like what I did, but she still likes me and thinks I'm capable enough to help clean up after myself."

We find going into a rage is often harder on us than the child. It leaves us feeling drained. Oftentimes, it's our after-anger feeling that bothers us more than the shoe thrown into the toilet. Once we realized that we could control our feelings more easily than our children can control their behavior, we were able to endure these annoying stages of childhood, and life with our kids became much easier. And when we do get mad at a child, we don't let the anger escalate until we become furious at ourselves for losing control.

* Mad at child
* Mad at self
* More mad at child for causing you to get mad at yourself
* Mad at being mad

You can break this cycle at any point to protect yourself and your child.
3. Make anger your ally
Emotions serve a purpose. Healthy anger compels you to fix the problem, first because you're not going to let your child's behavior go uncorrected, and second because you don't like how the child's misbehavior bothers you. This is helpful anger. I have always had a low tolerance for babies' screams. At around age fifteen months our eighth child, Lauren, developed an ear-piercing shriek that sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. Either my tolerance was decreasing or my ears were getting more tender with age, but Lauren's cry pushed my anger button. I didn't like her for it. I didn't like myself for not liking her. It might have been easier to deal with the problem if I had not been feeling angry. But because I was angry and realized it affected my attitude toward Lauren, I was impelled to do something about her cry, which I believed was an unbecoming behavior that didn't fit into this otherwise delightful little person. So instead of focusing on how much I hated those sounds, I focused on what situations triggered the shrieks. I tried to anticipate those triggers. I discovered that when Lauren was bored, tired, hungry, or ignored, she shrieked. She is a little person who needs a quick response and the shriek got it for her. My anger motivated me to learn creative shriek-stoppers. I've become a wiser parent. Lauren has become nicer to be around. That's helpful anger.

Anger becomes harmful when you don't regard it as a signal to fix the cause. You let it fester until you dislike your feelings, yourself, and the person who caused you to feel this way. You spend your life in a tiff over smallies that you could have ignored or biggies that you could have fixed. That's harmful anger.
4. Quit beating yourself up
Often anger flares inwardly, as well as outwardly, over something that you don't like; but upon reflection, after a lot of energy is spent emoting, you actually realize that the situation as it stands now is actually better for everyone concerned. This "hindsight" keeps us humble and helps us diffuse future flare-ups. Our motto concerning irritating mistakes has become: "Nobody's perfect. Human nature strikes again."
5. Beware of high-risk situations that trigger anger
Are you in a life situation that makes you angry? If so, you are at risk for venting your anger on your child. Losing a job or experiencing a similar self-esteem-breaking event can make you justifiably angry. But realize that this makes it easier for otherwise tolerable childish behaviors (smallies) to push you over the edge. When you're already angry, smallies easily become biggies. If you are suddenly the victim of an anger-producing situation, it helps to prepare your family: "I want you all to understand that daddy may be upset from to time during the next couple of months. I've just lost my job and I feel very anxious about it. I will find another job, and we'll all be okay, but if I have a short fuse and get angry at you sometimes, it's not because I don't love you, it's because I'm having trouble liking myself..." If you do blow your top, it's wise to apologize to your children (and expect similar apologies from them when they lose their tempers): "Pardon me, but I'm angry, and if I don't appear rational or appreciative, it's because I'm struggling—it's not your fault. I'm not mad at you." It also helps to be honest with yourself, recognize your vulnerability and keep your guard up until the anger-causing problem is resolved. There will always be problems in your life that you cannot control. As you become a more experienced parent—and person—you will come to realize that the only thing in your life that you can control are your own actions. How you handle anger can work for you or against you—and your child."

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What started my cure of yelling was that I was leaving a voice message for a client of mine. If I told the boys to behave when I had to make a phone call they usually did. But not that time. I left the message and thought I had hung up. I yelled at the boys and then heard "beep!" I was so mortified.
Then I started thinking why was I so concerned about what a person I hardly knew would think about me more than my boys?
I started praying about it and reading the book of James in the Bible. It started getting better and better til I rarely did it.
When I finally got the nerve to call that person again, it turned out my yelling had not been recorded. But I was so glad I thought it had been.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

How old are you?
Does your Husband help?
Do you get bad PMS?
For PMS, you can use natural things, to alleviate it or see a Doctor or Naturopath Doctor.
If your moods/anger is 'cyclical' and there is a pattern to it, like you get like this more before your periods, then it is hormone based, issues and mood swings.

So, reflect on yourself... and see if there may be something like that that is triggering your moods and anger and impatience.

Now, it is affecting and damaging your kids.
So hard as it might be... you need to get a grip.
Kids are children... they cannot just choose another Mommy. They have you. They love you. You are their Mommy no matter what.... so THINK about that. They are children... it is not always their responsibility to shoulder your burden or mood swings/anger. They do not have the years of development... that an adult has... to cope.

You need to see them, as children.
Not perfect.
Not knowing everything.
NOT expecting of them, what you cannot even do yourself.
If you expect things of them, emotionally or physically... then can YOU do that too????
If not, reflect on that.
Children are not perfect and NEVER will be.
They are learning.... this is childhood.
They need, support.
They need to see, that they are LOVED despite... their imperfections. Their confidence and self-worth... is directly tied... to how you perceive them and treat them.

DO YOU... want them... to REPEAT the behavior that you are doing to them??? Or to do that as adults to their own spouses and children?? Because, they are a spectator of you... and learning from you... how to act.
And you can teach them to be and repeat these same behaviors and become entrenched in this vicious cycle... or not.

You NEED to see... your kids, are children. Not as flawed... people.
Tell them what you love about them.
Tell them, how they are special to you.
Tell them how you know they are just children
Tell them, they ARE good individuals.
TELL them... you are sorry. For all of this. That you know... you are not easy. That you know... and are trying to get help. TELL THEM... you are sorry. Children NEED to hear that.

I am sorry for being blunt.
But I am also trying to be honest and how I would correct myself... for my children.

You need to perceive them... differently.
So that... they will not be "afraid" of you, their Mommy... any longer.

This is good, you came here to get ideas about how to help yourself.
That is brave... to admit all of this.
Keep it up.
Until you feel better... about yourself.
Your kids, will recognize that.

Find a Counselor.
Or do a Google Search for community support groups in your area... for anger management and parenting groups.
Use all the resources you have.
Your children are so young... and you don't want them to get, as they get older... to be alienated from you or you from them. Or you will loose them.

I know a man...that was so hard on his kids.... and as soon as his kids were older Teens... they all LEFT the house. They actually said, it was because their Dad... was a difficult man... and nothing ever pleased him or satisfied him. They just wanted to leave the house as soon as they could and get away. It is sad... when your own kids... feel the need to flee... that way. From their parent. Once they are old enough.

Do not lose, your kids, that way.
They need to BOND with you. And you with them.
Or there will be, no foundation to hold you all together.

If your truly do not want to only see what your kids do wrong... then try to see... joy in them. And demonstrate that, to them. SHOW them, that you see them as good kids.
They need you.

This is serious stuff for such young kids.
They have NO way, to cope.
You need to help them.
Do what you must. Do what you need to do. Do what you have to. Do whatever it takes... to make yourself better and normalized.
Do... it.
Or your kids, will become more damaged.
At least, your son had the guts... to tell you... how he feels.
Bravo, for him.
At least please... always let your kids, express their feelings to you.
If they have no one to lean on... then kids... can get lead astray... by outside influences.
That is dangerous.
Think... about... that.

You need to be there for your kids.
Not expecting them to be there for you. They are children.
Their shoulders are tiny. And that is a big burden for a child... when they 'think', in their child's minds... that they have to 'fix' Mommy and it is their responsibility.... and their 'fault.'

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

No offense but you sound like someone who can't handle any form of change. Do you have a hard time coping and dealing with things, big and small? Do you have a good memory or are you forgetful? Are you pretty organized or are you a fly by the seat of your pants person? Are you a lone rider or are you a people pleaser?

The latter (people pleaser) is very important when it comes to moms who snap at their kids. Some women aren't control freaks but when it comes to their homes, they want it to look neat and attended "just in case someone drops by". So, through the years, they fight for control over the state of the house. It gets harder as you add more kids in the home and they start growing up and getting into more activities. For example, maybe one of your kids heads towards the TV room. You snap at him about something b/c in your mind, you picture him sitting down in front of the tv, which would eventually lead to getting a snack, which would lead to crumbs, which would lead to more work for you, which would lead to the possibility if someone comes over they would see the mess or you cleaning it up, therefore inadvertently admitting to your house guest that your house is messy. Would this be the case with you? (I know that is a little extreme but go with me here).

You are going to have to research yourself and do some soul searching to find out what your triggers are, your reasons for them, and better ways to cope and deal with life.

Or, you can go to a counselor or therapist. They can help you sort out these sort of things and are usually short term commitments. They can also recommend if you need further, more psychological care.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

There is a book called The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo. It is supposed to be excellent in helping overcome the anger that is inside of you. I think it is very good that you see this and that you want to change. Change cannot happen until you want it. When my 3 boys were little, I was an angry mother also. I felt overwhelmed and discouraged. One day it hit me, the things they do wrong that make me angry weren't really about me. It was about them and their struggles with sin and disobedience. That simple realization changed everything for me. I was no longer reacting to their disobedience as though they were doing something *to me,* but rather that they were just sinning because they hadn't been taught correctly, and even if they had, we all struggle with sin. So, I am no longer an angry mother. I find great joy in teaching, leading, shepherding my children. They delight me, even when they make mistakes or do something to upset my day. No, I do not perfectly do this, but I would say that 99% of my anger is gone. I almost never raise my voice at them. How would I feel if everytime I made a mistake someone with a lot of power over me yelled at me? Gulp.

Start looking for things to praise them about. I think that you sat them down and told them that you want to change is great. I think you also need to verbalize your sorrow over the way you have behaved. Tell them you are sorry if you haven't already. You don't have to stay where you are right now with them.Just start fresh tomorrow. And get that book.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi M.,

The Family Institute is through Northwestern University. They have one location in Evanston and one location downtown on Michigan Ave. They take insurance and they also have a sliding fee scale. My boyfriend and I saw a counselor there and then I also saw one by myself for a while. They are fabulous - and most of them are the teachers at Northwestern so they are up on their game!!!!

you can look through the clinicians and find one you think matches how you are feeling or just one that you feel like you would "mesh" with.

Please call and talk to them about scheduling an appointment.

Or you can also call your insurance company and they will walk you through how much they will cover - most of the time the first couple sessions are paid 100% through an Employee Wellness program and then it's either paid by medical or mental health. They can make sure you select a counselor that takes your insurance.

Good Luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Awww sweetie, you have it in you for sure to turn this around right this very second! :) I know you will. Take time to maybe read some self help books, maybe meditate? Practice taking deep breaths when you feel yourself getting worked up...That is something I am also working on. I have found that since I have cut out wheat, yeast, dairy, and eggs from my diet, I am much more laid back and able to let things go. Start with a daily devotional if you'd like; sometimes we need to be reminded that God is in control and have a little daily reminder/lesson plan to help out. Place little notes all over your house with affirmations, positive thoughts/sayings that will help your mind and emotions stay on track. If you are stressed about a hectic life, try to give your sons jobs such as making their own lunches, or set a timer to see how fast they can clean their rooms, or hang up/fold their clothes. Always try to do fun things with them even if it's just a few minutes. And when you've yelled, always apologize about the reaction you gave, and talk through it to remind your boys that you love them and that you aren't perfect, but you are working on it because it's really important to you to make a change in yourself! What a great post! I'll say a prayer for you; you'll be okay! Your boys will see you are a very loving and patient mother!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

I'm not an expert, but my advice would be to start with a doctor to see if there is a problem with your hormone levels to tell the truth. If that's ok, see a therapist once every week or two and see if you can figure out what's up and how to deal with it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You are brave for being honest about this and reaching out for help!!! I so admire you.

I feel this way all the time. I was scared to reach out and embarrassed. I lost my job in March and feel I take out so much of that stress on my daughter. I know that I do it. I tell myself I will stop and then I find myself doing it again. It is so unfair to her. I love her so much, and she is only 7, and wonderful, and she is only little once, and I want her to be happy, I want us to be close, I want her to feel good about herself-- I need to be better. This post and all the wonderful advice from all the moms on here made me cry. But it's good. I needed to cry. M., your opening up and being honest about what's really going on helped me to open up. Thank you.

I feel more inspired and I am going to look into some of the books you all mentioned and I will begin the search for a counselor.

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone. God bless.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The good thing is you recognize that your son is right. I don't have any useful ideas, just keep trying to remind yourself that it's all small stuff. You don't want to waste this precious time with your little ones being angry.

Try and get dad to take them a little more -- you probably need a break.

Find the humor in things, and stop trying to change your son. He's probably more perfect than you think.

Relax! Enjoy them. It's all good.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

My Mom is that way. She was always very hard on us as kids and it translated into me being very hard on myself as an adult. I tend to find every fault in myself and not see any of the good. I tend to be really hard on my husband too- after all something must be wrong with him since he seems to love me. I'm trying really hard not to be that way with my kids. I'm a little scared I'm being to lenient. (My son is only 34 months and another on the way). It's hard to find a balance.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I was feeling so completely overwhelmed about midway through my this pregnancy that I thought I might just snap somebody's head off! I actually talked to my OBGYN about it and she gave me a card for a family therapist. I didn't end up going bc I decided I just needed some time off weekly, which I got and it really did the trick! But maybe you could ask your Gynocologist about a reference or even just look up family therapist in your area online. I always like a referral bc I feel more comfortable, but you can just try one and if you don't like them, try someone else. Or you can do what I did, tell your husband you are at the breaking point and you need a break! I treat myself weekly to a night out, well now I am so close to delivery that I don't care, but I will get back to it after this baby is born. I just go get coffee, see a movie, have dinner with my mom, whatever I want, it is wonderful and really recharges my batteries! Wish you the best! And yes do remember that we moms are very hard on ourselves, but I do think finding a way to deal with all the frustration is important, Take care!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

M., I really understand. Anger is a hard one to deal with. You know that you want to change and need to change and want help to do it, so this is a great start. Tell yourself that this is a habit you are breaking now and replace it with positive speaking only. Remember, every time we yell at our children or speak out of anger or frustration or use negative words we are separating them from us, we're building another brick in the wall we're creating between them and ourself. You are their Mother and therefore need to show the love in your heart for them. Don't explain to a child what you need from him, you've got it backwards, it's what he needs from you that's important. Why are you expecting a child to fulfill your needs. Don't explain to him what you want to change about yourself, he's not your psychologist or counselor. He is a child. Let him be a child. He only gets one childhood, once it's gone, it's gone. I can understand that it hurt when he said, 'you're always yelling," but just think how much he is hurt, especially being a child. Obviously you're not happy within yourself and it's spilling out into your mothering, understandable, but must be stopped for everyone's sake, which you know. You have to decide to change yourself, your life. Learn to meditate even if it's just for ten minutes a day. Get rid of anyone and anything negative in your life. Turn off the tv and read things that will help you. Play with your kids. There are so many things you can do to help yourself. But it takes determination and just Doing It. Who ever it is that did this to you as a kid, forgive and let go. Just think of your own pain when you were treated this way. You don't want that for yours. Is there somewhere you can go to get help? If you don't have the $, see if there is a church group or counseling. I hope this helps. I send you prayers for peace and health and happiness.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

Life is stressful and having kids can add to the stress as well. It's not being angry that is bad, it is HOW you deal with the anger. You have to stop seeing your kids as "annoyances"...and you might not literally do, but when YOU are stressed then what THEY do becomes an added "annoyance" you don't see them as cute little adorable wonderful kids anymore until you are OVER the anger, then you feel guilty for the yelling when you have let it out. The yelling is a release but one that does NOT help the body. Exercise is better or talking to someone or even walking outside and leaving the scene. If you're one of those people that has to be in control and have things perfect all the time it can drive you nuts when things are out of order, but if that's not the case, you have to talk about what is bugging you - either from your past or current situation. Check with your doctor if you are not getting enough rest or eating right.

The best thing to do when you feel the anger penting up over something they did or happened is to just do some form of exercise right there and then...I am not talking about anything formal.. just jump, do bouncing jacks or something so that the hormones in your body can calm down...and relax you to at least handle the situation at hand. Grab one of your kids and instead of being mad at them, play with them (you don't have to be in a play mood, you are releasing the anger). They will love it and you will be feel better.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Peoria on

A counselor may help. I don't know if cost is an issue, but if you or your husband works, most companies have an EAP, Employee Assistance Program. Call them and talk, that is why they are there! If your son is having issues, you can call the school's guidance counselor to help too.

I went through a phase too where I was in a funk and lashing out at my boys too. I went to bed every night feeling like the worst mom ever. It is no way to live. A couple of things helped. First, I tried to take myself back to my own childhood and remember how bad I felt when my mom yelled at me. I hated it and felt really bad. Then I put a HUGE note on the fridge that read "NO YELLING!" Then I sat my son down and told him that I don't want to yell and that it is ok to stop me if I start yelling. I explained that I wanted to stop yelling too and asked if he would help. You would be amazed how you can stop dead in your tracks when your child looks you dead in the eye in the middle of a rant and says, "Mom, will you please stop yelling at me? You are making me feel really bad." (side note- great way to teach you kids to speak out). WOW! That is exactly what I needed to hear. I still yell sometimes but it is much better. Also, if you can make some time to volunteer or do something nice, especially to someone less fortunate, you will be amazed at how good that can make you feel. Lastly, I don't know if you are religious, but I am. I wrote a note for myself and looked at it every day. It read, "Your children are your gift from God and it is your job to take care of them." And don't underestimate the power of daily cuddles!

I hope this helps! Lots of luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Go see a counselor.
Take a deep breath and count to 5 each time BEFORE you react to your kids.
Get some time for yourself. Getting a break (even 30 mins a day) helps
Can anyone help you to give you a break?
If you have good friends, call them if you need moral support or talk to
you when you feel like this.
Find what relaxes you: a mini break, talking to friends for a few mins,
watching a tv program.
Remember, they are innocent, creatures that depend on us.
You are there only love, support, safey & hope.
If you've ever been yelled at, remember how you felt.
Believe me I have my moments. I reach out to friends, tell my hubby I need him to help out more etc. Sometimes (often) I feel all alone but I know that I love my child, need breaks, need help and want to give my son the best. I don't want to yell at him, scare him and/or scar him.
Hang in there, pray, be open to help, ask for help & get a break however you can (get creative...keeping their best interest at heart of course).
Much love & peace to you sweetie.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It starts with what you see in yourself. I am a yeller but I am also a cuddler ... I try to keep it even.

1 mom found this helpful
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