I was surprised to realize that one of the main reasons I snapped at my kids was because I was basically planning to do so!
I’ve mentioned that one of the first steps in getting a handle on anger or yelling is knowing our anger triggers. I found something else that totally helps me not snap. It may sound silly or too simple, but I want to share it and see if it helps you, too.
Why do I snap at my child?
Well, aside from the obvious reason of becoming irritated and not reigning in my temper, I realized I needed to listen to what I was rehearsing in my head. When my kids were younger, I habitually played a script in my head that fed my own anger and led to me snapping at them and using a bullying tone more often.
Here’s what I mean – we were about to leave the library one day, and I looked around and couldn’t find my 10-year-old. I had an arm full of books and 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, “THERE you are!! Come ON! If it’s time to go, you don’t just..blah, blah blah….“.
When I noticed I was planning a rant, it stopped me. I thought, “I don’t want to spend the afternoon irritated with my kids.”
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 avoided the rant that I’d been building up in my head, his nervous system wasn’t in fight or flight mode. Once we got to the car, I was able to kindly 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; one of the most helpful realizations I found for the question of how do I stop snapping at my kids is that if I notice I am planning a rant, 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?
Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.