For When You're Done Feeling So Angry (and you don't want to yell at your kids anymore) - Sarah Mae
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For When You’re Done Feeling So Angry (and you don’t want to yell at your kids anymore)

It’s weird how the smallest things can set a mom off.

And by weird I mean normal because oh our sinful hearts.

The other day I got so mad at one of my kids. I had asked them if they wanted to do something, they said no, then changed their mind so I gave them an instruction based on that, they changed course, and BOOM, set me off. It was so dumb that I would get mad, but I felt so mad. It didn’t help that I was already in an irritated mood. My child had blocked my goal, unintentionally, and it threw me and my heart came up out of my mouth and I said some unkind things to my child. I also gave them the “mean” look. You know the look. I don’t like wearing that look.

I took a deeeeeeeeep, deep breath, and calmed down.

I hate when my kids see my claws.

I looked at my child and I said, “I’m sorry I sinned against you in my anger. I was wrong. Will you forgive me? Come here, let me hug you. <good cuddles> Also, you need to obey when I tell you something. I need you to do your best to listen to me, okay?”

Hugs, forgiveness, we made it another round. All is well.

There is just something about sharing close spaces with people day in and day that can make you a little crazy. Throw in our sin nature, our bents, personalities, life, and sometimes we are primed for an explosion. We are human. We’re going to blow it, which is why we need Jesus. And it’s why our kids need Jesus. We are all loved but in desperate need of help.

To the moms out there who are reading this and feeling like you’re just so angry sometimes and you don’t want to be, but you think you’ll never change, listen: It can get better. 

I used to think I’d always be this hormonal, angry, emotional mess, but I have seen God work in my life and calm my anger and my sinful reactions. And I am already seeing Him do that in my children, as we talk through things and I give them my time, and pray. All of this imperfectly, but with earnest desire to love well.

If you want to see change, if you don’t want to blow up so easily, if you want a good relationship with your kids that isn’t clouded by anger, read on. I have some hard-earned, God-is-so-kind-to-help-us, wisdom to offer you.

Check Your Heart

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45 (NIV)

“…what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing.” Matthew 15:19 (Message)

Anger is an awful feeling when it lets itself loose and does damage. Anger, in and of itself isn’t bad, but what can come from it if not checked is. Lashing out in anger makes you feel out-of-control. It makes you feel ugly and dirty and self-righteous and so many mixed-up things. But the worst is the aftermath, after you’ve let loose and you wish you could take back what in the moment seemed so justified. I had a mentor in college say, “99% of anger isn’t righteous anger.” I don’t know where he got that stat but I find it to be true in my own life. Most of the time our anger is wrapped up in the lies we believe about ourselves, the world, and God. There is also our histories and wounds and sinfulness and self-protection and just plain selfishness there too. It’s hard to lay down our anger when our blood is pumping and our senses are heightened and the dark feels stronger than the light.

If you get what I’m saying, and you overcome by your anger, if you find your kids setting you off more and more and you’re not sure how to control it but it’s eating you up, there is a solution. Just like the check engine light in your car goes off if there’s a problem, your anger is alerting you that there is a problem. Ask God why. Ask God what is going on in your heart. Ask Him about your anger, and ask Him to lead you in the right way. He will answer you, but that doesn’t mean a quick fix. Often He’ll reveal something to you and you’ll have to go through a time of uncovering, healing, and suffering to get to the other side (soul work is often gutting). But He hears you, and if you’re willing to let Him lead you, your anger and angry reactions will lessen. You will become a calmer person; you’ll have more peace in your heart, and you’ll know how to slow down the anger train.

I know because I’ve seen God work in me. Do I still get angry sometimes? Yes! Do I still blow it? Yes! But not as much, not as quick, and not as harmful.

There is hope for you and your anger.

“Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Pay Attention

Whenever I’m talking with someone who is depressed or anxious or angry and they are trying to figure out what’s going on, I tell them to write down every time they are triggered. What happens right before the explosion or the anxiety or the depressed feelings (not talking chemical depression). Often, especially in regards to anger, something has hit on a button that is unique to that person. For example, when I was fresh out of college I began to meet with a group of college girls to read the Bible with them and mentor them. Another woman, who was older than I was, talked to these girls about doing something with her as well, a leadership type thing to train them. When I found out, I was so mad! How could she go behind my back to “take my girls”? I called up someone who oversaw our ministry and I told him what she was doing. That is when he said to me what I mentioned earlier in my post, “99% of anger isn’t righteous. Let’s talk about this.” At first I was taken back. What is he talking about, she is clearly wrong and I have every right to be angry! I realized later that my issue with her was really my issue with me. I struggle with the lie that I am not good enough, and when she approached the girls about doing something with her, my lie triggered like a heart punch. My heart was screaming, “See, you’re not good enough! She is doing this because you really are no good.” She was blocking my goal of me feeling good enough, smart enough, capable enough. But she really wasn’t. She was just offering these girls an opportunity to also learn how to become leaders. It had nothing to do with me.

All this I shared might not make any sense because it isn’t rational. It’s a heart thing. I guarantee you have triggers that make you snap, and you don’t even know why you are so angry, but your heart knows, and it’s trying to protect you. You have decided that you will be a good mom, or a smart mom, or a perfect mom, or something, and when that goal is blocked, the claws come out because your heart will do anything to protect you from pain.

A good start to figuring out why you’re so angry is to pay attention to the triggers. Get curious. See if there’s a pattern. Write it down. What can you can learn? What questions can you answer? God will be working with you on this, so just pay attention.

The more you deal with your junk, the less damage you’ll do to your kids. (Tweet that.)

Hi Hormones

Every few weeks I turn into a crazy lady. I am crying one minute and wanting to stab someone the next. My friends in college used to joke that I could never be President because I would bomb someone every month.

It’s probably true.

I am a VERY hormonal woman. So was my mother. She used to put on the calendar when to stay away from her lest you be in her path of destruction.

I’m not making excuses for anger, but I am saying hormones are the real deal and can seriously mess with your steady-ness. Know your rhythms, take care of yourself, warn your people, and walk away.

Know Your Tipping Points

Bedtime.

That is my tipping point. If my kids get out of bed after I’ve put them in bed, I LOSE MY MIND.

If I hear them talking after I’ve put them in bed, I LOSE MY MIND.

Bedtime is my tipping point, so I have to be wise and kind with my kids and myself around bedtime, making sure everyone has their water, is tucked in, prayed for, and set for a good night sleep. If I take the time to prepare for bedtime and give my kids what they need, I have reduced the bedtime angst.

It’s worth the time.

Speaking of time…

Take the Time

Speaking of time, the truth is, if you don’t want to be so angry at your kids, you’re going to need to teach them, discipline them, nurture them, and see them as the precious, eternal souls that they are and that mothering is Kingdom work (tweet that.)

There is no shortcut here. The more you spend time with your kids, loving them the way they feel loved, correcting them, and guiding them, the more delight they will bring you. More delight, less anger. And yes, it’s hard and you will do this so wildly imperfectly, but don’t give up. God made you a mother and your work is eternal and good and planned before time!

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” Proverbs 29:17

Ask Forgiveness Over and Over

Take that deep breath, grab your kiddo, and ask for forgiveness. Every time you sin in your anger, ask forgiveness. Tell them it grieves God’s heart when you sin against them in your anger. Be honest. Tell them when they’ve done something wrong, but also apologize for your part.

Kids are so gracious and willing to forgive with such genuineness, but you must acknowledge your sin and ask. I am so grateful for the sweetness that comes from forgiveness.

Here’s to more peace, less anger, and genuine delight in our mothering!

Mother on!
Sarah Mae

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  • Sharayah

    What usually sets me off is when I’m trying to get something done, or helping one of the kids, etc and I’m being summoned by what feels like 50 different little people.

  • Karin H

    Disobedience (even delayed disobedience) really sets me off! Also, whining, complaining, arguing, etc!! I feel like I am easily set off by just about anything. I’m trying hard to do better and could really use the Temper Toolkit!!

  • Megan Mattinson

    Bedtime, for sure. I have a lot of health challenges, so by bedtime my patience is worn far too thin. My three girls share a bedroom and turn into scary monsters at bedtime. I can’t tell you how many times bedtime has ended in tears! And the girls cry sometimes, too!

  • http://musingsofawifeandmommy.blogspot.com Jo Rose

    I get set off by bickering. Especially if they are bickering when I clearly have given them instructions to do something other than bicker. For example if they are bickering while they are doing their schoolwork, (I homeschool) or cleaning their rooms.

  • Alison

    My angry 6 year old sets me off — I wonder where she gets it from?! This is my biggest struggle as a mother.

  • Chesca

    Most recently 2 things set me off…(1) my daughter is 6yrs-old & is now VERY emotional (whining/crying)…which grates every nerve in me, (2) my 2.5yr-old son gets in these out-of-control modes where he cannot hear anything I’m saying. I get angry when my kids don’t change their behavior right away…which I’m sure makes no sense but that’s the truth. Oh…and I’m 21-weeks pregnant so I’m constantly on the verge of fatigue or an emotional breakdown. Find myself angry/yelling more & more these days. This Toolkit would be super helpful!

  • LindseyBell

    My trigger is when I feel out of control…also the hormones. Definitely then 🙂

  • Stephanie Hall

    When something threatens my security and control and my heart is afraid; I get anxious. I snap, I get angry and I feel ‘out of control’. I love the idea of heart work. Thank you.

  • Martha

    Yes – bedtime! Such a trigger point for me because I’m just ready to relax for a few minutes!

  • Rae

    I’m shy and introverted and spend 99% of my waking hours hoping nobody notices me. My daughter? Flaming extrovert destined for broadway. She loves people and performing and being seen…all.the.time. The bigness and craziness is my trigger, I feel horrible for always shushing and then I get angry about that. It’s horrible. I’m so afraid of killing her sweet spirit; the last thing I’d ever want is for her to end up shy and hiding from all the things like me.

  • Amanda

    I get angry the most when my kids are blatantly defiant.

  • Christie Williams Kehoe

    My daughter’s whining about everything sets me off on a daily basis. Ah…..the whining!

  • Autumn J. Arthur

    The whining. Also, when the kids question my authority I tend to lose it. 🙁 We have a niece that is the complete opposite of how I want to raise my kids to be, so I find myself comparing my kids to her and how she was raised vs. how I’m raising my kids. AND… “Mom! …. Mom! …. Mom! …. Mom!” AND “I don’t like that (food)”

  • Meg Dyson

    The noise. I have 4 who are six and under. I have wanted, and still want, a large family…but bless my introverted soul, they are loud!

    • Rosie

      This is precisely me!

  • http://www.nursegonenatural.com/ Becca

    Ugh! I so need this! I wish I didn’t yell at my kids ever! But it happens!

  • JC

    fatigue and feeling trapped in mothering and homeschooling really try me. I tend to lash out when I’m at my limit and am asked ANOTHER question, or have to deal with ANOTHER argument or ANOTHER fit. It all just feels like too much far too often.

  • Erica Mustian

    I get set off by my kids not listening and whining. By the time bedtime rolls around I’m so worn out emotionally and touched out that I can’t get them in the bed fast enough.

  • Leah

    Whining and bickering set me right off. I want to slow down and deal with it well, but…….that’s why I need help!

  • Amy

    This was my prayer just this morning. Laying down my anger. As soon as I think that it’s good, it flares up again.

  • Crystal E

    When my control is being threatened.

  • Mandy

    Triggers for me: being interrupted when I’m trying to do something for me. And disobedience. And whining. And fighting. Sigh. So many things seem to set me off. I want to be different!!

  • Julie

    I’m a single mom so I have to be very careful to take good care of myself; being always always “on.” I really appreciated hearing how hormonal you are. Glad to not be alone in that. No one told about the hormonal changes of having babies, nor did they tell me about the effects of sleep deprivation, GEEZ. God is helping me with the hormones though and resetting my body, finally!! Lack of sleep (from getting up a few times in the night with a child) is usually my worst enemy and makes me more susceptible to snappiness and anger.

  • Dianne

    Far too many things make me angry – when the baby is crying and i cant deal with her because the others are not cooperating, or when they do something destructive they know they shouldnt do, but think they can get away with it because im not looking. I also get irrationally angry when things fall – not at my kids…
    Loved you book Desperate! Ive read it a few times – i have 4 kids 6 and under. 🙂

  • Laura B

    I would love the toolkit as I seem to struggle more and more.

  • Melissa Lynch

    Whining, not obeying the first time I know they’ve heard, and whining.

  • Rosie

    So many things trigger me… Pretty much everything already mentioned: Whining, complaining, interrupting, disobeying, so much noise all the time, not sleeping, etc. I really appreciate the honesty and encouragement in this post!

  • Amy S. Domenech

    I have a few triggers. Bedtime is one. We homeschool. I’m 14 mths into a out of the blue and unwanted separation/possible divorce. I’m everything for my kids. And once they’re in bed, That’s my much needed quiet time. It’s minimal. Cause I need to go to bed too. So I cherish it. I hate when I get mad at them though. They don’t be deserve it. They don’t understand. They need their Mom to be strong and supportive and loving and kind and giving and full Of grace. Not angry. I’ve improved. A lot. I ask for forgiveness often. But I fail way more than I’d like. This post was much needed. Thank you.

  • Rebekah Smith

    Thank you for this: )

  • Jen B

    One of my biggest triggers is interruptions: just sitting down to lunch and someone needs something else; I just want to get the laundry folded; mommy is trying to figure out what we’re going to eat today – please quiet down so I can think; and it seems to get worse and worse as the day goes on.

  • Heidi Hamstra

    I tried to pay attention today. And there were a few things that really set me off. Wastefulness of good food and irresponsibility with books were the last straw. But fighting, especially cris of “he doesn’t want to play with me” coming from everyone most of the day really raised my blood pressure too.

  • sarahjax

    I’d love to win this! I feel like bath/getting ready for bed is my danger zone. I’m just done by then and ready to unwind. So hard.

  • Sandie Fransen

    Thanks for this post, definitely gave me some things to think about!

  • Debbie

    Talking back, bad attitudes, delayed obedience…all set me off! So many things already listed!

  • Angela Holmquist

    I get angry when they don’t listen to me (after telling them to do something like clear the table or pick up toys, etc.) and when we are trying to get out the door to get somewhere on time and they procrastinate so much (sadly they have learned this from me!). I think Lisa-Jo has a lot of wisdom to share with us and thank you for openly sharing your thoughts and experiences Sarah.

  • Sarah

    Pretty please don’t ever stop sharing your heart, mmmk?!

  • Stephanie Lena Nichols

    God has been dropping so many good things into my life lately! I am being repeatedly “wrecked” by Him and it is such an answer to my prayers. I’m currently reading “Different” and it has opened my eyes and softened my heart towards my sweet “outside the box” son and now this blog post has targeted another issue that I’ve been praying about. I feel like I’m too easily irritated, constantly annoyed and exhausted in every way possible. My kids absolutely get my angry leftovers and it sucks! A few weeks ago we had a surprise warm day and I spent it with them at our park, it was amazing. I just played with them and I felt light hearted and free. I wasn’t rushed or trying to get somewhere. They weren’t ignoring every word that I said and I didn’t have to get onto them about anything. We needed that day. Between home, ministry and work there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to move slow and appreciate these little souls in my home. I want a peaceful home… a safe place from the world. I don’t want to be remembered as a short tempered mother. 🙁

  • http://www.simplicityblogger.com Daikuro @SimplicityBlogger.com

    Kids will always be a challenge to the ego. But it is important to stay present and really question what is going on inside of your mind. Then, create a move from there. Move out of love and compassion and not out of anger or high expectations.

  • Deanna Anthony

    You know, no one ever tells young mothers that this will happen. You start out with these adorable babies and then they get older and are actually their own person! I often wanted a switch to turn when I wanted the kids to ‘behave’ as I wanted them to rather than for them to do what is natural. I am so happy you posted this and are reaching women your age. It’s okay to be mad, impatient and hormonal. But no one said it was. And if they did, they had no real followup as to how to handle it. I often wish I had been brought to Jesus sooner, but looking back I know that I was not ready for him. Love your post! Looking forward to visiting more!

  • Sarah w

    Oh i love you so much! You made me laugh to see myself in you, how you lose your mind around beftime…ME TOO,… now i try to lay down with them. It takes soooo long for one of them to sleep, but i dont wanna yell my child to sleep a ymore. How awful! I used to try to watch tv in the r living room and yell See, look! Hhhh they wont go to sleep! My husband would give me that look like, oh hell, youve lost it.
    Xxx

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