How to Overcome Anger at Your Problem Child

Kids with challenging behaviors try our patience. And that’s probably the understatement of the century. It’s easy to think of them as a problem child. While they just need better tools to manage their big emotions, it doesn’t change how easily their behaviors push our buttons.

Enter angry mom.

Anger seems to be my go-to coping mechanism. Other moms tell me that I’m not alone. What about you?

Anger seems to be my go-to coping mechanism. Other moms tell me that I'm not alone. What about you? #parenting Click To Tweet

overcome anger mom problem child

This week I’ve struggled with holding my frustration in check which means my child has also struggled with holding his emotions in check. We’re both fighters, so once we’re both angry, it’s not pretty. There aren’t many quick fixes in connected parenting, but I’m always on the lookout for simple ways to kick my brain back into logic mode.

Notice, I didn’t suggest using them on your kid…I’m suggesting them for us, the parents. It’s possible that a child might try to imitate you which is great, but my experience is that a child with a flipped lid does not take calming suggestions very well.

Here are some things that work for me.

Deep Breathing

I know you’ve heard it a million times, but I’ll start with the most obvious, a deep breath. Doh…not helpful. I know. But also know that the part of a deep breath that calms you is actually the exhale…so try a deep breath with a really extended exhale.

Invite your child to a competition to see who can “blow out the candles” for the longest.

I’m also really a HUGE fan of the Breathing Timer feature of the Stop, Think & Breathe app.

Get Upside Down

My equilibrium doesn’t love this one, but if your child sees you trying to do a handstand against a wall, you may distract him from a tantrum. You can also lay on a sofa or bed and hang your head off.

Activate Vagus Nerve

My therapist recently told me that research shows that activating your vagus nerve by relaxing your pelvic floor muscles is one of the fastest ways to calm yourself down. How do I do this you may ask? I find it easiest to contract my pelvic muscles first and then relax them. Urinating is another sure fire way to relax those muscles. If you have to pee as much as I do, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Come to think of it, I should be a lot calmer…

Use a Temp Change

Immerse your face in cold water or your tongue in saliva or warm water. Pretty self-explanatory.

Power Posing

And my newest one…stick a pencil or pen horizontally in your mouth and hold it with your teeth–not your lips. Your mouth will be forced to smile. This is a form of priming, basically using your body to trick your mind [1]. This one can also eradicate fear which I think is a powerful tool for our families.

What are you favorite calm down tricks?


Of course, these are more “in the moment” strategies. Long-term resentment and anger require different strategies. If that’s you, I’d love to connect. You’re not alone. I’ve been there, but have climbed my way out to a place of forgiveness, acceptance, and peace. Want to grab a virtual coffee date? Click here.


Posted in Parenting.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks Melissa – great reminders. What about the “Magic Mustache”? I’m not sure that it works because I always forget to use it, but lots of people talk about it. (Its the pressure point right under the middle of your nose). I also go to anger before any other emotion – so it is a constant battle for me to stay under control.

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