Angry- Yell- Cry-Repeat

Have you all ever been in that sort of cycle with a child?  Maybe the child gets really angry, you get angry and  yell, the child yells, it all comes to a head, you both cry, but the cycle repeats.  So many mothers I talk to feel sad, feel guilty, and can’t understand why things have to “come to that “ in order to really communicate with their child.  Mothers also feel most guilty when they have things going on within their families, adult things, and the stress of what is going on comes out in the way they deal with their child’s behavior.

If you are in that sort of cycle with a particular child, give yourself a hug.  Sometimes adult life is difficult, and it is hard to keep our frustration, anxiety, worry or even anger from spilling out.  No, it is not ideal, but it is reality and in this day and age where parents have little support to send a child for an afternoon to a grandmother or aunt whilst they sort out adult things, sometimes it just happens. 

Some children are easy-going, and others just are not (and sometimes we wish we were easy-going, but we have to admit that we are not either, LOL).  Sometimes children are just in a hard place developmentally, or the family is in a hard place, and we really are trying to  do the best we can do.  We all make mistakes along the way.  You can actually use this time as an opportunity to develop your own self-control, your own ability to keep your mouth from moving, your own time to just stop and pray and listen for the best thing to do.

Because the thing is this: there is no textbook and no cookbook of “do this, then do that” to make it all right.  Parenting is an art, not a science.  We are all learning on the job for that particular child for that particular age.    Every child is an individual and every family has different dynamics.  

It is important  to really stop and think about what will serve that child in that individual moment but also to  have an eye for the bigger picture.  Development does take a long time,maturity helps,  but what we do as parents  counts toward raising our children to be good future spouses and parents.  Gentle discipline starts at birth.    Look at what the child is  presenting to  you.   Help them, and love them.

If we make sure and certain that our expectations are reasonable, then we have to ask ourselves, how are we communicating what we need?  A small child needs you to move their body along with the words you use. 

A child that is running away from you, or laughing at what you said is so challenging, and you may need the energy of the situation to change before things are resolved in a positive manner.  Perhaps you  just need  to stand still for a pause and then continue on with some work whilst you breathe a minute.  Perhaps you  need to interject some humor – so hard when you are exhausted and you were patient the first fifty times this behavior occurred earlier today!  Perhaps you need your spouse or a different family member to step in and change the energy, if that person can be calm (and if you are not a single parent!).  Only you can decide when is the right time to draw that child in to guide that child:  is it right there in the moment or does it need some space and then guide that child?

Not guiding the child and not setting a limit is NOT an option, but the timing is an option.  If you are angry, then you need that cooling off space, and some children need to see you continue on for a few moments in order to know that their behavior does not derail you or the family. Limits are vitally important.  I also think in these hard stages we must work to cultivate our own authority throughout the day, not just in the hard situations.  How do we draw our children in to help in the family throughout the day?  How do we set a rhythm that works for this particular child who is having a hard time, but also for the needs of the whole family?

We have to do our own personal work  about ourselves and  this child on an ongoing basis – have we prayed about this child, meditated on this child and what has come to us?  How are we applying what has come to us about our child?

Forgiveness, picking battles, love, humor, movement, space and time where you do not move or speak, then guiding that child – this is how we do it.   Parent in love, even in the hard moments.  Breathe, and don’t just react.

Many blessings,



20 thoughts on “Angry- Yell- Cry-Repeat

  1. Carrie, I really appreciate all the love and merciful compassion that comes through this post. Having that loving mercy towards ourselves is the first step in breaking the cycle of anger and fighting with a child, as it is us as the adult who has to be the one to make the change.

  2. I so needed this today. I am trapped in exactly this cycle but it is exacerbated by PND and severe sleep deprivation. I am struggling with how to change the patterns in both my child and I. How to break the cycle of yelling and fighting and the horrible defiance we seem locked in. It’s exhausting and demoralising. This post reminds me that it all HAS to start with me. I am the adult, she needs me to be strong and in charge without being angry. Thank you for your wise words.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. My oldest son is almost 3 and a half, and this cycle is repeating itself in our house every day lately. I appreciate this gentle reminder to step back, breathe, and pray before I respond in anger to his challenging behavior.

  4. I’m going through a hard time, living with my in-laws. The tension in me, anger and anxiety and stressed relationship with the in-laws show through. It’s hard to hide my emotions and my 4 year-old boy picks up on these. I think my 14 month-old girl does too.

    This piece resonates loudly. 🙂

    I’m not a Christian. Can you please enlighten me as to how can I pray for my children and meditate over them? Individually? (1 sleeps in his own bed the other in a cot, but with us in the same room)

    • Hi Rebecca,
      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you! I think just looking at their sweet little faces at night whilst they are sleeping, and asking for guidance and wisdom and patience from the Heavens, the Angels, a Guardian Angel, or whatever fits into your belief system. Really laying out what happened that day, what was hard, and asking for help and then sleeping on it all and seeing what insights come to you in the morning when you wake up!
      Many blessings, peace and joy!

  5. As always your posts are so timely. Thank you for admitting that parenting is so hard at tomes. Some of the reading I do presents gentle parenting as a rosy picture and everything will work out well. I appreciate the honesty and I am working very hard on controlling my own temper in difficult situations. My toughest time if with my son whose temperament is most like mine. We butt heads more often.

  6. its a wonderful post that boosts my morale a lot. I am happy to say I am being more in control nowadays of my own actions etc and yet they still happen and as already said books and sites mostly show gentle parenting as if these thingns never happen and the reality can be most chnallenging to us

  7. Just wow. I so needed this today. I am in that vicious cycle and ALL the behaviour is developmental but I am the one having mummy tantrums. Thank you so much.

  8. Hi Carrie. Visiting your blog for the first time via PlanningwithKids Facebook page. You cover what can be a very fraught situation very well. I’m still going through this with my wonderful 10 year old son…waiting for the day he’ll outgrow yelling when things don’t go his way! Just this morning it took all my patience, careful, calm voice tone, sense of humour and deep breathing to get him out of the house without ruining the situation by losing my patience! The big deep breath whilst acknowledging internally that his behaviour was making me feel really bad ‘but that’s okay’ is a new strategy and working well as an add on! It’s hard to explain well but ‘self talk’ does seem to help! I wrote a guest post on PWK last year about helping boys with their temper but didn’t cover how to help parents with theirs! I’m now blogging about parenting my darling daughter who was recently diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at Trying to find other parents out there going through the same thing…..

    • Hi Annie! So glad you are here! In my years of being a physical therapist, I have treated children who were chronically fatigued, but typically due to a different diagnosis. I will be following your journey on your blog.
      So glad you found me! The tab about family life has many articles and posts about anger in family life, being patient, etc.
      Thank you for writing me,
      Many blessings,

  9. Hi Carrie,

    I have been a reader and fan for a few years now, always love your words, on the same page…reading this today, looking for some inspiration with this day’s challenge for me… I have a middle child (5) who is constantly harassing his younger sibling (1.5 yrs)- pulling down pants, pulling hair, yelling in his face. I would love some advice on how to deal with this. I try calm distraction, movement, purposeful work, extra attention over and over until I snap and end up hauling the kid upstairs & yelling. Ideas? Or just more inner work for me?

  10. Carrie,
    I have been praying for my child and guidance on parenting. I feel, that God is hearing and answering my prayers because I found you today! Thank you so much for the work you are putting toward this ministry! blessings to you, Renae

  11. Carrie,
    As usual you are spot on! Kids need us to guide them through their turbulence. So often they are developmentally unaware of their actions and unable to control them. There are many adults that I know that are often able to control their own impulses….yet we expect a child to be able to reign in their emotions and reflexes instantly. There is no better advice than to sit back, breathe and contemplate the solutions to what can help. Carrie, you know I default to humor but my children are very easy going — so what I would suggest to parents of more charged kids is to set realistic limits for the children and yourself. Give yourself breathing space. Bring the kids outside or to a gym and let their energy be focused on activity. I know, easier said than done..but realistically we as parents (moms) have to know that our energy is the energy that rules the house (and that can be very stressful in and of itself) but we are also human and we are doing the best we can. Cut yourself some slack and cut your kids some slack – for sometimes they know not what they do….they are still testing everything. Love yourself, love your children and know that this too shall pass….

    Rebecca, I am not a Christian either but I find that just capturing my children in special moments is all I need. Moments such as beautiful smiles, heartfelt hugs, fluttering eyelids, and sleepy snuggles are all I need to fill my cup.

    Much love and peace,

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