I don’t know anyone who never snaps or criticizes their kids, but I know everyone wishes they did it less. I asked 10 coaches to tell us their point of view on this topic. The challenge for you is to pick the one that resonates MOST with you and practice it for a few weeks. Perhaps you can tell us which one resonates most with you in the comments below. And then, after you try it for a bit, check back in and tell us how it’s going!
Hunter Clarke-Fields from hunteryoga.com
You start with mindful self care. When you are scattered, stressed and overwhelmed it’s nearly impossible to stop criticizing and snapping at your kids. Calm and peace have to come from within. There’s no way we can be understanding, accepting and loving towards our kids if we are out of touch and self-critical. Mindfulness practices give us the space we need to respond rather than react.
Elaine McGhee, Working Mom Support Coach (helping moms go back to work after maternity leave) from www.thrivemomma.com
A daily practice of mindfulness that will allow you to be in the moment and break the habitual reactive behavior, ie snapping without thinking first. You are able to assess without emotion or judgment (of yourself or your kid). It’s a moment by moment choice! Simply being aware of what triggers you will help to better handle it the next time it comes up. Remember: if you can catch yourself 1 out of 10 times, that is progress!!!
Susan Schenk, author of Beyond OK from Invisible to Invincible (coming out in 2015) from www.beyondok.ca
Kirsten Quint Fairbanks, Certified Holistic Life Coach and Certified Health Coach from Http://www.deliciousbythebay.com
You have to have a tribe. We haven’t evolved to do parenthood in isolation. Kids are adorable, often hilarious little people. They are arguably the most worthwhile endeavor in the world. But they are also demanding and messy, inquisitive and exhausting little people, and without a supportive tribe of other mothers it can just feel like too much. Suddenly we’re critical instead of appreciative, yelling instead of hugging. So my advice is to find your tribe. Veteran moms need a tribe as surely as new moms do. Just knowing that you have a group of people going through the same challenges you are can be so helpful: to know you’re not wrong for feeling your feelings, to know your kids’ behavior is all part of normal, to have a little life ring of adult conversation in a sea of concerns about feeding and sleep and poop. When you find your tribe, make time to meet regularly, whether at the park, at yoga class, or a support group in person or online. Knowing you have mama support time built into your schedule can be the difference between feeling alone and impatient, and being a nourished, connected, and patient mama. It’s so crucial.
Vikki Bojarski Spencer, Life Coach from www.themomwhisperer.com
Sometimes when we get in a cycle of criticism and frustration, we don’t take time to really think through it. It just becomes automatic “here they go again” and we find the same thing we look for. To begin the process of rerouting this, I would ask a few questions at the end of the night when there’s space and we can look a bit more objectively:
- Was it something I can teach them to do for themselves?
- Is it something that happens often/ same time every day/ same thing and if so, can I address it ahead of time?
- Is it in response to something else? (my bad day/ lack of patience/ we’re all hungry)
These begin the process of thinking through the situations so we can look for ways to address them.
Amy Fortney Parks, Parent Coach & Psychologist from www.thewisefamily.com
I teach this “THINK” model (Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?) to kids and I believe strongly in modeling behavior for our children. When we can use thoughtful, loving and kind words – especially when stressed and angry – we guide our children to do the same!
Tami Spence, Wellness Coach from www.tamispence.com
I say Eat for Energy! Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods all tax our bodies, drain our energy, affect our emotions and leave us struggling to cope. When you’re reacting from a place of unstable blood sugar or nervous, coffee-fueled energy, you’re not always as calm and patient as you’d like to be. Tune into your body’s wisdom and choose foods that make you feel truly nourished, calm, and energized from within, like dark, leafy greens, fresh berries, wild-caught fish, and sea vegetables, for example. Your kids will still challenge you, but you’ll have more control over your emotions and a greater capacity for patience with which to respond.
Dawn Falcone, The Chaos Liberator at www.dawnfalcone.com
We tend to lose it with our kids when things feel out of control for us in other areas like our home or schedule. We’re all overloaded and overwhelmed. Start simple. Look at you & your family’s weekly schedule. Are too many activities planned? Is there any time in the week for the kids to just be home, playing? What about you? Is there any time scheduled just for you to focus on yourself? It can be an hour a week where you meet friends for coffee or take a yoga class or sit quietly alone reading, anything. Simplify to stop your family from rushing around.
Maggie Morley Rowe, Life Coach at http://www.yourthrivingteam.com
I believe criticism is a mental “lack of control” that comes from expectations that are not being met. We feel the need to criticize when we think we have “power” over someone else. When you criticize kids it’s because we have a hierarchal mindset that we think we should have “control over our children” and when they act out, we feel the need to correct them or put them down. When you use criticism as a form of discipline, you’re totally missing the boat as a parent. When and if your parents criticized you, was it beneficial? If so, good for you–your the exception to the rule, but most likely not. Being criticized never changes behavior ESPECIALLY when done to a child.
Secondly, “snapping” at a child is totally normal and it happens to us all. We all get frustrated and overwhelmed in the moment and “snapping” at kids I believe is just part of parenthood. No one is perfect.
Does it justify it? Absolutely not, however there are some things to consider before you FREAK OUT and snap at anyone that enters the room…
- What’s the real feeling your experiencing? (Did you husband piss you off, did something happen at work) What’s the REAL reason your upset and snapping at everyone b/c it’s NEVER about the laundry or the dirty house. NEVER.
- See that emotion and “Pain is an Opportunity for Growth.” See the frustration and overwhelm as your guiding system for change. Do you need help around the house? Are you not speaking up enough? Are you feeling like the victim? Do you feel like you are everyone’s bitch?
If so, use those thoughts as fuel for change. When you typically would be driving all over the state to pick up kids, can you simply ask a friend (last minute) to bring your child home? Leave the guilt at the door and just ask… It will provide some relief and take one thing off your plate at least for the short-term and hopefully one less “snapping” episode for the day.
Kelly Pietrangeli, Mama Motivator at http://myprojectme.com
I used to be a B.I.T.C.H. of a mother in the mornings and my poor kids bore the brunt of it. I’d wake up and immediately begin barking at them to get up, get dressed and have breakfast so I could get them to school on time. I was snappy and irritable. Not a morning person….
I finally managed to convince myself to wake up 15 mins before the kids to either journal write, meditate or read from a positive book, just to put me in a more loving, peaceful state of mind before mommy duty kicked off. It not only began to make a HUGE difference to our mornings, but this daily practice of getting in touch w/ myself has led to more self-awareness and mindfulness. I am far less snappy with them or with my hubby and more gentle to myself.
I highly recommend that every mom finds 15 mins to connect with herself each day. I wrote more about it here if you’re interested.
Natanya Lara, Guide for Intentional Parenting at www.natanyalara.com
Think of your kids’ behavior as a feedback loop… the way you react to your children directly impacts the way the they respond to you. So, when your kids do something that triggers you, the first thing is to be aware that your reaction will play a part in their behavior. Just having this awareness can help you to stay aware of your reactions in the moment.
The next step is to create a practice to support you in shifting your inner experience over time. Having a calm internal space completely shifts your triggers and reactions. Again ~ this will happen over time, but if you begin today, you’ll be astounded at the changes that will happen in the days, months and years to come. Each parent will find the right practice for them, but I’ve included one here that many have found supportive… It’s a SongMantra™, a lyrical chant you can listen to at any time, or repeat to yourself when you most need to create a space of internal peace.
Deb Blum, Life Coach and Founder of the Thriving Family Academy 🙂
From my experience, often I would snap at my kids when I held a “story” that they “should” know something (because I told them many times before), but I realized I was arguing with reality – perhaps they “should” know it if you compared them to some other child, but the reality is that they DON’T. So, when I started to set my expectations to meet my kids where they are rather than want them to be some where (or some one) else, I was able to cut them (and myself) some slack. Often, I think I was more annoyed with myself – for example, that I didn’t get them up to bed early enough, so I would be irritated if they were goofing off. And it was circular – the more annoyed I was with myself, the more likely that I would snap at them. Which leads me to my final observation which is that when I cut myself slack…when I am kind and gentle to myself…I am always kinder to my kids. So, in the case of going upstairs later than I wanted – if I noticed that tension and irritability rising up, I could remind myself that it’s all okay – the world won’t stop if they go to bed 20 minutes later and being in the moment of their goofiness is probably more valuable than rushing to get to sleep.
- It’s Too Late, You Snapped At Your Kids…Now What?
- 365 Day Journey to Yell Less and Love More
- How I Learned to Stop Criticizing my Kids and Start Motivating Them (Life Hacker)
- Help For Moms Who Want To Stop Yelling, Criticizing and Making Mistakes With Their Kids
- How to Criticize Your Kids (Greater Good Center)