I don’t know about you but this COVID situation has made me more susceptible to my anger triggers in parenting. Stress levels are at an all-time high making it difficult for us to function from a level headed place. The things that didn’t get under my skin before, now seem to bother me. With the extra stress from the constant changes and added responsibilities, I feel like I have less tolerance for the everyday challenges of parenting.
Keep reading because I have some great tips below but if you feel like you’re needing a bit more support during this time please reach out and get the help you need.
The enemy would love for you to feel like you’re alone in this.
Moms you are not alone in this battle to fight for peace, connection, and grace in your home. This is a journey we are all on as moms who want to draw our children closer to God. I share these insights from a place of having dealt with anger issues and God’s transforming grace. Not from a place of I have this all together but as a sojourner walking alongside you and encouraging you along because I know that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus.
You don’t have to mom alone. I am a Mom Mentor Life Coach. As a certified Mentor Mom Life Coach, I’d love to come alongside you to offer support and guidance as you deal with the anger, frustration, and stresses of motherhood. I can encourage you in your desire to create a home and heart that’s connected to God and your loved ones.
Okay, so last week we talked about remembering whose you are and who you are as Christian mothers. We also talked about remembering that our children are still in process and they are immature. Perfection is not required for you as a mother nor is it required of your children.
God does not require perfection, however He does require us to PURSUE Him.
You can read more of this blog post HERE.
Emotions and Anger
Let’s talk about emotions. We don’t have to be afraid of our emotions. Emotions are like signals to let us know something is up. Just like the light that goes off on your car dashboard those are there to alert you that something is up–you need gas, you need oil, you’re car is overheating…
Emotions are there to alert you that something is up. Often our triggers take us to places we don’t want to go when we let our emotions take over. I want to let you know that with God’s strength you can change those patterns. It will take time but it is possible.
The emotion we are going to focus on is anger because it may be disrupting the peace in your home during this stressful season.
Here’s a fascinating thing we experience anger not just in our minds but also in our bodies. Below we will be talking about knowing what our triggers are but we can also pay attention to our body’s response. Does your head feel hot? Your neck feel heavy? Your fists feel tight?
As we move forward remember that your anger can be used for good. It helps us fight for justice and get things done. Think about all the organizations that have been born from anger against injustice, one that pops into my mind is MADD Mothers against drunk driving.
Your anger can be used to help you identify a problem but you can’t solve your problem with anger.
We can channel our anger for good! The anger you feel from your child’s habitual lying, talking back, addiction, rebellion, sibling rivalry… may motivate you to become a prayer warrior, come up with a routine to help them, help you discover God’s grace and forgiveness… the positive benefits of the anger emotion are there but they aren’t always channeled in that direction so keep reading.
So what are your triggers? Everyone has their own triggers of what makes them feel angry but some common ones may fall under these categories below. We are going to focus on the emotion of anger that we all may be feeling a bit more in this unprecedented time of stay at home orders, extra school responsibilities, cooking more, overwhelmed by the constant changes, bad news, and the bad economy.
In the book, Good and Angry by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, they list the five following reasons we get angry:
- Physical Pain – Maybe it’s a medical issue or you being physically bitten or pushed.
- Blocked Goals – You wanted to get to the playdate or school on time.
- Violated Rights – You have the right to be respected, valued, and acknowledged.
- Unfairness – It’s not fair that this happened or that I’m always doing everything…
- Unmet Expectations – You expect that your child should’ve learned this by now, the house to be clean when you’re away, for dinner to be made by your spouse when you’re out, children to behave when you’re at the grocery store…
You may find that one of the above is a common trigger you experience most often with your children. For example, when your child talks back you feel disrespected and may relate to #3 violated rights.
Take a moment and think about what are the things that most commonly trigger you. This will help you not be caught off guard in the midst of the emotions.
8 Things To Remember if You’re Feeling Triggered by Your Children Lately
Here are 8 things to remember if you’re feeling triggered by your children.
- Pause – One of the ways we can create space between yourself and the trigger is by pausing. When you pause here are some helpful things you can do to give you time to think and/or calm down. I like to pray and just ask God for help. Sometimes my prayers are really short- Like help me, Jesus.
Other times I use what I call “breath prayers” I breathe in “peace” and breathe out “anger or stress”. You can also just practice breathing in and out. I’ve also been known to go into my bathroom and give myself a timeout for at least 5 minutes. During that time I play a praise song to help me. If my husband is home I go take a shower for some hydrotherapy. After you pause, own it. Own your anger and say, I am mad. I am frustrated. I am angry.
- Distinguish between the trigger and the response. Separate the trigger from the response. You also want to separate the sinful action, from your child. I know it’s hard to separate the two because it all feels like it’s connected but it’s important to see the distinction. For example, I may feel triggered when my son starts talking back. The trigger of my son talking back bothers me, so I begin feeling anger. The anger is a warning signal that this bothers me but my response should not be in anger. Below in #3 we talk about the response.
The other separation we want to learn to create is to make the differentiation between our child and our child’s sin. If your child struggles with lying it’s easy to start identifying them by their sin whether it’s lying, rebellion, bad temper… When we do, it becomes easy to start seeing them as the sin or the enemy. But they are not! God’s word tells us that our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the powers of this dark world. Eph.6:12) Last week, I shared a free printable to help you start seeing the good in your child’s struggles. You can find it HERE.
- Respond instead of React. When you join your children in their anger, screaming and tantrums you bring chaos instead of calm. Your reaction hijacks the teachable moment. That’s why we start with step #1 Pause in order to help us to calm down so we can think about what we want to say instead of jumping right into the situation in anger. Have you heard of “I messages”? I teach these to high school students and in all of my parenting classes. “I messages” are powerful and easy to start practicing and great for modeling to your children.
You would say, “I feel ___ when ___ I need you to ____. For example, I feel disrespected when you completely ignore me after I asked you to get off your device, I need you to turn off your device when I ask you to. I have even given you a warning so you have time to close your game down.” These statements inform you of what’s going on but also let your child or loved one know I am human and I have feelings. Next week, I’ll have a blog post with a printable on this.
- Empathize. One of our desires as humans is to be heard. Sometimes our children just want our empathy. They want to know you care and you’re listening. So when your child is talking back because life is not fair that they only get 30 minutes of screen time when the rest of his friends get 5 hours you can empathize. “That game you’re playing looks like it would be fun so I can see how hard it is to get off.” Empathy doesn’t mean you let them do whatever or they are off the hook but it does mean you try to see life through their perspective.
- Speak in Love. When we are spewing out anger our kids can’t hear us much less connect with us. Your brain can’t process information in the midst of big emotions like this. Physically our brain goes into flight, fight or freeze in the midst of stressful situations. When we have big emotions, the part of our brain that helps us think logically and with reason actually gets smaller. Brain expert Daniel Siegel calls this “flipping your lid”. So the “feeling” part of our brain the amygdala has flipped and can no longer access the lower part of your brain that allows you to process things from a place of reason and logic.
Empathy and love is a great place to start the communication. When you guide, coach, connect in love then you’re creating an atmosphere of fertile soil for the seeds God is planting in their heart. This will take time but start small. So that may sound like this: after your child didn’t obey which may be a trigger for you. Remember step #1 Pause, if it’s not enough time for you to calm down then you tell your child you need to come back to this because you’re still upset. Or you can calmly say, “I can see how hard it is to stop watching those funny videos. After this warning, if you continue to ignore me you’ll lose screen time later today. (Mean what you say. So stick to it.)
- Forgive. This may seem like a “duh” moment but often as moms, we assume we already have forgiven our kids but we don’t actually go through the act. It can be something we just go to God, not necessarily our child. Sometimes we can just let things go but if we find ourselves constantly annoyed with one child, in particular, you might want to ask God to show you if you’ve harbored bitterness toward your child. Then forgive them. If you found yourself reacting then you’ll need to go to your child and ask for forgiveness as well as making it right with God.
- Fix your eyes on Jesus. We need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus in this whole parenting thing. When we take them off and put them on what our friends are doing, or what your child is doing we ending up getting sidetracked and focused on the wrong things. We fix our eyes on Jesus by leaning into His Word, His strength, and the power of the Holy Spirit. If we really believe that the battle belongs to Him then we need to go to Him to lead us forward.
- Grace. Grace is not a license to do whatever you want and then pull out the grace card. In the midst of the journey of not letting our triggers take over, we have to remember what the Psalmist says in Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.” God already knows you’re going to mess up and He tells us that His grace is sufficient for us in the midst of those failures. So what we need to do in those “mess up” moments is recall #7 “Fix your eyes on Jesus” the author and perfector of our faith. Who gave us and is perfecting our faith? Jesus is! Not us, He is, as we walk in Him.
Moms you are not alone in this battle to fight for peace, connection, and grace in your home.
You can follow along and get our free printables and updates HERE!
Mentor Mom Life Coach Sessions Explained
A life coach is not a counselor. The best way to explain the difference is a counselor takes a person from a place of dysfunction to functional and a life coach helps a functional person overcome hurdles that are keeping them from what God may have for them to walk in at this stage of life. You may not know where you’re at but a good and ethical life coach will direct you to a counselor as needed.
Join me! Start making your home and heart a life-giving place! In my Mentor Mom Life Coach sessions, I can help you make the shift from overwhelmed, frustrated, disconnected to calm, and connected. If you’re lacking vision as a woman I will guide and support you. I have 3 tracks you can choose from with assessments at the beginning to give you a better idea of where you’re at:
Calm Track– Choose this if you’re feeling like anger has become your new mode of handling situations and need to make a shift in your home from chaos to peace. Do you need help making your home and heart a safe place?
Connected Track– Choose this if you’re feeling like you’re lacking connection with God or your children. Maybe you’ve been in a rut because of a serious of hardships or family challenges and you’re needing someone to help you come out of the “pit”. Maybe you need help making your home a life-giving home!
Purposeful Track– Choose this if you’re feeling like you’ve lost your groove and can’t seem to find purpose in where God has you.
My desire is to help you find hope in God’s truth, call you out to your best self, and offer support in your motherhood journey as you create a home that’s calm and connected.
You don’t have to mom alone.
We can start your sessions either through Zoom or if you’re in the Lancaster, PA area I offer a “Mentor Mom walk” which is basically a coaching session based on the track you’ve chosen above while we walk a trail. All sessions are 40 minutes long. Maybe you just need one session or 3, whatever it is, I’m here to offer hope, truth, and support in your motherhood journey. Contact me at [email protected] or message me on FB at my Blog page HERE .
Other than my own personal experience as a mother for 16 years, I’m a certified life coach through the school of the American Association of Christian Counselors. I have about 20 years of ministry experience working with women, youth, and children in the U.S. and internationally as a mentor, Bible teacher, ministry leader, counselor, speaker, and writer. I am currently working with a publishing company to write a women’s bible study on the book of Proverbs. It will be out in late summer!