Mom Yelling: Why It Happens and Finding Harmony in the Chaos

mom yelling

Stepping into the vulnerable realm of parenthood, I’m going to talk about a topic that many of us moms wrestle with: “Mom Yelling”.

“Mom yelling” is a topic we may hesitate to discuss openly, fearing judgment. However, it’s important to acknowledge that we’re all on this same journey of growth and understanding as a mom. I have faced many moments of raising my voice due to frustration or feeling overwhelmed. I’ll start my sharing one of my own “mom yelling” confessions.

My 5 and 2 year old girls were playing together nicely. It usually starts that way but doesn’t always last. After playing nicely for a while, my 5 year old started bossing around my 2 year old. Telling her what to do, taking things away from her, forcing her to do things. You’ve been there, right?

I calmly asked my older daughter to stop. She ignored me. I asked her again calmly to stop and told her that if she kept picking up her sister one of them may fall and get hurt. She kept ignoring me. I started to feel my blood pressure rise but I was REALLY trying to stay calm.

Eventually, my 2 year old fell over, started crying, and I started yelling at my 5 year old. I yelled things like, “See I told you this would happen!”, “Why can’t you just listen to me?”, “Why must we always get to this point?” Then she started crying, I started crying, and I felt like a horrible mom. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t my girls listen the first time? What am I doing wrong?

Why is mom yelling?

Why are we yelling? Most likely our communication method with our kids is not working. Motherly shared 8 psychologist-backed tips for improving communication with kids. The tip I find most relevant to “mom yelling” is using more “dos” than “don’ts”. Constantly saying “don’t” does not promote the positive behavior. Unfortunately, it can even reinforce the negative behavior that we are trying to stop.

We also yell because we are not connecting with our children. There are many times when I’m in a rush and I just want my kids to do what I am asking. I ask and ask and get ignored so I start yelling. I find that when I am able to pause, get down to their eye level, and talk calmly to them, they listen better because we are connecting.

We also yell because we get triggered by one or more of the common anger triggers. We’re yelling because of how we are feeling right in that moment and not necessarily because of what our children are doing.

Common “Mom Yelling” Triggers and How to Fix Them

1. Feeling overwhelmed

One common “mom yelling” trigger is feeling overwhelmed. This is probably the trigger that I battle with the most. I work from home full-time and while I have childcare covered for the most part, I don’t feel relieved of my mom duties during the work day.

There’s prepping for school, making sure appointments are made, coordinating the after-school activities, making sure they have an appropriate outfit for whatever themed-day is at school that week, the list goes on.

Then there’s the general house duties such as laundry, cooking dinner, getting the clutter organized, etc. Sometimes I’m just so tired and in dire need of a break. Something else comes up and gets added to my plate, whether that’s taking care of a sick child or needing to order clothes in the next size. I then snap and yell the next time my kids don’t listen.

Potential solution: Communicate and take that break. When it’s time to fix mom burnout, I communicate with my husband. I tell him that I need a break whether that’s for 15 minutes or an hour. When I get that break, I’m able to feel better.

Communication is key though. There are other times where I try to tackle everything and don’t communicate when I’m nearing my breaking point. That’s when I yell.

2. Not feeling heard

Another common “mom yelling” trigger is not feeling heard. Like I described earlier with my yelling confession, you ask your child nicely over and over to either do something or stop doing a negative behavior, but you keep getting ignored. For me, I wanted my older daughter to stop bothering my younger daughter. I asked her multiple times in a calm way and she kept ignoring me. Eventually my younger daughter fell, started crying, and I started yelling.

Potential solution: Get down to eye level with your child. Sometimes children ignore us because they don’t feel seen or heard by us. When you get to eye level with your child, you are telling them that you see them, and want to connect with them. You are also distracting them from the negative behavior.

Hopefully, if your child feels connected to you they will listen before you have to start yelling.

3. Being tired

A third common “mom yelling” trigger is being tired. We’ve all been there. You have a child who isn’t sleeping well due to teething, sleep regression, or an illness. Maybe your child had a nightmare and wants to come into your bed for the rest of the night, which means you won’t get much more sleep. Perhaps you stayed up late to get some alone time but then have to get up early the next morning to start prepping for the day. No matter what, you’re tired.

You’re tired, and then every little thing sets you off. Your toddler dumped over her cereal bowl, your preschooler won’t get dressed for school, or your older child forgot about a school assignment and is now rushing to get it done. You’re too tired to deal with this, and you start yelling.

Potential solution: While this is easier said than done, get more sleep. When you’re really suffering through sleep deprivation, sleep has to be the priority. You may have to skip staying up late for alone time. Make sure you get to bed at a reasonable time and prep all you can for the next day at night. Learn about efficient morning routines for moms, so you might even be able to sleep a bit later.

Unfortunately you can’t control a sick child waking up in the middle of the night, but you can try to do all you can to get some good sleep.

4. Being unhappy

Another common “mom yelling” trigger is being unhappy. Maybe you had a bad day at work or are in a job you really just want to quit. Perhaps your child is going through a tough time at school or you’re worried about a sick relative. While it would be wonderful to be happy all the time, that’s not reality. We all have bad days, some really bad days, but we still have to go through our normal routines of being a mom, employee, wife, etc.

You’re feeling unhappy about whatever tough situation you’re dealing with and then you go into the playroom and see your child coloring on the wall, or the room you just organized is a complete mess since your kids have thrown around all their toys. If you were in a great mood maybe you could laugh it off, but when you’re feeling unhappy you’re more likely to yell.

Potential solution: Talk about what is making you unhappy with your spouse, friend, family member, or a therapist. If it’s one bad day at work just venting about it to someone could put you in a better mindset to be “mom”.

Unfortunately you may be going through something harder that can’t be fixed by just venting. Communicating with people who are part of your safe space can help you come up with potential solutions.

Communicating about whatever is making you unhappy can help you get some happiness back. Sometimes we are unhappy because we are always saying no, so try some yes day ideas to boost you and your family up.

5. Not taking care of yourself

A fifth common “mom yelling” trigger is not taking care of yourself. You had a busy day and skipped lunch. You barely drank any water today. The last time you had ten minutes to yourself was two weeks ago. You can’t remember the last time you saw any of your friends in person.

You’re not taking care of yourself, but you have to take care of your kids, the house, etc. If you’re constantly running on empty, there is no way you will be in the right mindset to be a mom. Anything that you children do will likely set you off. Getting knocks on the door when you’re trying to use the bathroom in peace, the kids fighting, or your child refusing to eat the dinner you made…it will all be too much, and you will yell.

Potential solution: You need to take time for yourself. Don’t skip meals, and when you do eat make sure it’s healthy, nutritious foods. Stay hydrated throughout the day. If it helps, get a water bottle that shows how much water you should be drinking throughout the day to help keep you on track. Try my free 5-day self-care challenge to help you get started!

mockup for free 5-day self-care challenge

You can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself. You need to be filling up your cup.

6. Not holding boundaries

Another common “mom yelling” trigger is not holding boundaries. Children are impatient and don’t want to follow boundaries. I’ve dealt with this trigger many times. A recent example was when my older daughter wanted to use her Magic Mixies cauldron. I hadn’t used it with her yet so it would take time for me read the directions, set it up, and understand what we had to do. She wanted to do it right then and there. I suggested waiting until the weekend when I had more time to spend with her and suggested doing another activity instead that was quicker. She insisted on doing the Magic Mixies.

I got tired of the whining so I agreed to do it. I was frustrated and tense because I knew I was going to be rushed in figuring out how to use the Magic Mixies toy. Eventually my frustration bubbled over and I started yelling at her because it was taking me too long to figure out what we had to do and I had to get back to work.

Potential solution: The solution here is to hold that boundary! I should have held that boundary and waited until the weekend to use the Magic Mixies cauldron with my daughter. I would have been in a better mindset over the weekend, more patient and less rushed, but instead I gave into the whining.

It can be very hard to hold boundaries especially when whining is involved, but the more that we hold boundaries, the less whining our kids will do. Our kids will eventually learn that when we set a boundary, we mean it, and they will follow it (most of the time!).

7. Comparing to others

Another common “mom yelling” trigger is comparing to others. This is a tough one. You may see that your friend’s child is hitting milestones sooner than your own. Your child’s best friend may get better grades than your own. You may be scrolling on social media and (falsely) believe that your friends are better moms than you because it all comes easier to them.

You’ve been comparing and feel upset since you think that your child is falling behind or you’re a bad mom. You end up taking that out on your child.

Potential solution: This is also easier said than done but don’t compare. Most kids end up in the same place at the end. At high school graduation you don’t hear about when the graduates were potty trained or said their first word. When you’re in the moment though, it’s hard not to be concerned, so you can always speak to your child’s pediatrician.

Also, don’t believe all you see on social media. Most people only post about the best parts of their day on social media, not the worst parts, so it’s very easy to falsely believe that your friends have it more together than you do.

How does mom yelling affect a child?

When we yell at our children we reinforce the bad behavior. Sometimes our children are just looking for attention from us and when we react by yelling, we’re giving them the attention they are seeking so they keep up the negative behavior.

Yelling can also create anxiety and low self-esteem in children. Children may feel on edge and wonder when the next outburst will happen. They may also doubt their abilities if they are yelled at a lot.

Yelling is a cycle that can continue into future generations. We were likely yelled at when we were children, which makes us feel the need to yell at our kids. If we yell at our kids, then they may carry that pattern into their adult lives and when they are parents themselves.

How does mom stop yelling?

So we see that yelling can affect our children, but how do we stop the cycle of yelling? We can take control, decide that we want to stop yelling, and work to fix ourselves. Unfortunately there isn’t one magic solution that we can read up on and study, that makes us never yell at our kids again.

However, we can take care of ourselves, by eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep. We can also make self-care, such as exercising, meditation, yoga, listening to some great podcasts for moms, and reading, part of our routine.

We can also practice self-awareness. Reading books about generational trauma can help us become more self-aware of our triggers. When we become more self-aware and see that we are nearing our breaking point we can communicate with our spouses about needing them to take over. Even if you’re home alone with your kids, you can make sure they are safe and then step away into the bathroom, shut the door and count to ten.

We can work on more effective communication strategies, such as getting down to eye level with our children when talking to them. We can also set boundaries, and stick to them, so our children have structure and learn about consequences.

No mom is perfect. There will be times when we still yell.

When we do yell, we have to give ourselves grace and apologize to our children and take responsibility for our actions, so they learn to do the same. The next time my older daughter is bothering her sister, I hope to stop what I am doing, get down to her level and talk to her. If that doesn’t work I will try to remove her or her sister from the situation before I start yelling. These are my goals, but I know there will be times when I still yell. I will then apologize and let my daughter know I still love her very much.

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Transformation takes time, and every effort we make today is a step toward a brighter, more peaceful tomorrow for our families.

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