Kids & Company Blog

Calm & Confident Parenting: 5 Proven Tips to Manage and Reduce Overwhelming Emotions

As a parent, it's not uncommon to feel like you're running on fumes. Between the demands of parenthood, work, and household responsibilities, it can feel like there's no end in sight. And sometimes, all that stress and pressure can boil over into what's commonly known as "parental rage."

Parental rage is when you feel an overwhelming sense of anger or frustration, typically triggered by something relatively small or insignificant. It is important to recognize that these feelings are normal and understandable, but it is also essential to learn how to manage them in a healthy way.

 A different side of myself

I saw a different side of myself when I had kids — and I felt shame.  When I got pregnant I went and got myself ready, or so I thought. I felt so prepared — I had read the parenting books, I was doing prenatal yoga, taking the vitamins my naturopath recommended,  and I had a birth plan and a doula.  I had lulled myself into a false sense of control that I didn’t realize at the time was my default coping mechanism.  Control, perfectionism, high-achieving: these things made me feel safe, worthy, and good enough.

My son was born.  A mother was born.  I was overwhelmed by my own expectations.  I had set up the idea that to be a good mother is to put ourselves last.  The image of a self-sacrificing mother has stuck even though times have changed.  More women than ever work outside of the home, do not have extended family close by for support and yet the pressures remain the same and greater.  I went from feeling, “I got this!” to “I’m failing.”

As soon as I brought my baby home I was in shock that nothing was going according to everything I had read and seen.  I had a picture in my mind of this calm mother nursing her baby, feeling attuned to her child so the baby never cried.  Yes, this was the image in my mind and I had actually read it in one of the worst parenting books that led me to believe if I just met all my child’s needs, and read their cues accurately then they would never cry.  So here I was, a new mother failing to attune and read her child’s cues.  I felt like a failure.  The cycle started with sadness and then grew to anger.  How could I be doing all the things and still be failing?

The sheer exhaustion of being a 36-year-old first-time mom getting little to no sleep, compounded by not having a thyroid.  My hormones were out of whack.  I needed help.  I  needed someone to hold my baby so I could take a shower, so I could have a moment to myself.  I didn’t know how to ask for help.

That’s where my resentment and anger started to rise.  I would take it out on my husband when he finally came home from work.

I felt helpless and powerless. I felt I was going from 0 to 100 in an instant but what was actually happening was I wasn’t attuned to myself.  I was ignoring the cues my body was giving me. I wasn’t looking inward to understand my feelings and needs nor giving myself permission to get them met.

You see, rage happens when you dismiss earlier cues of needs going unmet.  It is like a pot starting to boil.  If you don’t learn to recognize the early cues and lower the heat, the pot boils over.

 Five Things to Do When You Feel the Rage Coming On

  1. Keep a Log

Many of us did not grow up talking about our feelings or learning regulation skills.  To be able to reduce the intensity of parental rage, start by noticing when it comes up.  Pause and consider writing down what is going on. What are you feeling? What are you needing? Look for patterns.  There’s always an underlying emotion. Ask yourself, “Am I sad? Am I anxious? Am I overwhelmed?” Figure out what need is being unmet and look for ways to satisfy it.  Learning to get in touch with our feelings and subsequently our needs goes a long way in helping to reduce the intensity of the feeling.  This is the idea from Daniel Seigel of “Name it to tame it.”  Start to attune to yourself.

  1. 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise

When you feel the anger rising, practice this 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise (refer to the image below). This simple technique can help you feel calmer and gain some perspective. It's essential to remember that whatever is triggering your rage has a message beneath it.  Usually, a need that is going unmet, and perhaps we dismiss it either because we feel no one will meet it or we feel that needing help is a sign of weakness. 

  1. Use Positive Self-Talk

Negative self-talk can fuel parental rage. Instead, try using positive affirmations to help you cope with the situation. Remembering that this IS hard AND you can do hard things.  One of my favorites is, “My child is having a hard time, not giving me a hard time.”

  1. Find Support

Talking to someone who understands what you're going through can be incredibly helpful. Whether it's a friend, family member, therapist,  or coach, find someone you can confide in and share your struggles with. Sometimes just venting can make a world of difference.

  1. Regularly Check-in With Yourself

Often, as parents, we stuff our feelings and needs down.  But as we do that over time they compound and can show up as rage.  Check-in with yourself regularly, noticing any sensations in your body, and what messages they may have for you.  Let the pile of laundry, toys, and dirty dishes be.  Get some rest.  When we are sleep deprived, all feelings are magnified. Eat a well-balanced diet, limiting caffeine and sugar which can mess with our emotions.  If you do not put your oxygen mask on first, you aren’t able to support your child.

Change is Possible!

Parental rage is a challenging experience, but it doesn't have to control your life. By recognizing your triggers, decoding the message beneath them, and practicing healthy coping mechanisms, you can learn to manage your anger, decode the message of anger and become a more peaceful and positive parent. 

Upcoming Kidco Talk

Join us for a webinar on March 30th at 12 pm EDT in collaboration with Kids & Company. I will be discussing ways to reduce rage as well as learn the most important parenting tool to reduce guilt and shame.  Learn more and register here. 

As a Kidco family, you can usethe promo code  Kidcofam to receive 50 % off of our 5-step process to deal with challenging behaviours.  You can access the digital download here

This blog is guest-written by Jenn Abbatiello, Certified Parent Coach & Founder of Your Transformed Family.  Visit the website for more information and to get in touch with any questions. Or connect with Jenn on Instagram @yourtransformedfamily or Tiktok @jennabba.

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