How to give up yelling and overcome your anger, mama

Anger is often the mask that sadness hides behind.

How to give up yelling and overcome your anger, mama

I believe self-discipline is the first rule of parenting, and the most important step in building trusting relationships with our children and peaceful homes for them to grow up in. In my book, Positive Parenting, I shared that during the times I have struggled most in my parenting journey, an honest look has always revealed that I was the one, of course, and my children were simply following their leader. When my patience was thin, or my words were unkind, this was reflected back to me in the behavior of my sons.

Getting control of our own emotions and behaviors is challenging work. We often feel justified in our tirades, blaming our emotional outbursts on our children's behavior. If only they would listen!

My epiphany came one day when I heard my own snappy words coming out of my son's mouth. I realized it wasn't him who needed the discipline; it was me. He wasn't being defiant. He was being me. He wasn't being naughty. He was being me.

Children are mirrors, and the reflection I saw that day taught me a valuable lesson—if I expect my children to be kind, gentle, compassionate and respectful, then I must be kind, gentle, compassionate and respectful. What I model has more teaching power than any discipline strategy or lecture ever could.

Why is it so difficult to reign in our emotions rather than act on them?

Many of us didn't learn how to effectively manage our emotions in childhood. We watched our parents and we learned how to handle emotions by how we saw them handle emotions.

When we tried out their tactics, we might have been swiftly punished, and so many of us quickly learned to stuff our emotions to avoid punishment or we acted them out in less than desirable ways. As adults, we simply repeat the patterns we saw growing up, only now we have the authority. There is no one to take away our iPhones. Adding to the problem is our exhaustion, busyness and lack of a village. We are spreading ourselves too thin, and with enough repeated stress, we snap.

To end this cycle, we have to hold ourselves accountable. We really must learn to manage our emotions now so that our children don't bear the brunt of a harshness that they do not deserve, and importantly, so they can learn to manage their own emotions well.

However, parents have a difficult job at a difficult time. Of course, we don't have to be perfect. Yes, our children can see us upset, and no, I'm not suggesting we stuff our feelings and put on a smile. I'm merely suggesting that we expect the same of ourselves that we expect of our children. It's okay to feel hurt. It's not okay to hurt others. But our go-to response—yelling—can be hurtful.

Taking ownership of your emotions and actions is key

Do you take ownership of your feelings and actions, or do you blame them on someone else? I used to blame my feelings on my kids all the time.

When parents say, "You're making me so angry!" they're admitting that they don't have control over their own feelings and actions. The child has control. This is a double-edged sword.

First, this makes children feel responsible for our emotions, and that's a big burden to bear for a child. Second, it teaches them to play the blame game and not take ownership of their emotions and behaviors as well." Does "she made me do it" or "he made me so mad" sound familiar?

Instead of "You're making me so angry," try, "I'm feeling angry right now, and I need to calm down." Don't blame your feelings on anyone else; they are your own. Your children are not responsible for your triggers. You are responsible for understanding why you have the trigger and disabling it.

It can be helpful to keep a journal about your emotions and responses. Just by bringing awareness to the things that cause you to feel angry, you take away some of its power. We are often armed with our triggers in childhood. For example, if you were told often to "quit crying" as a child, then hearing a child whine or cry may bring up uncomfortable feelings for you, perhaps even sadness. Anger is often the mask that sadness hides behind.

Next, work on reframing the negative thoughts that accompany your trigger. For example, if you often think, "My kid whines about everything!" then those words will fuel your negative emotions. However, if you consciously choose to replace that with a more positive or accurate thought, then the anger has space to dissipate. Try "My child is having a hard time and needs my help." With consistency, you'll begin to automatically think gentler thoughts, and your responses will be more positive.

Tips for dealing with anger in the moment

1. Do something physical, like 10 push-ups or a few jumping jacks. Splash cold water on your face or step outside for some fresh air.

2. If you feel the need to yell, use a loud, silly voice or make a "toot toot" noise while cupping your mouth with your hands. Don't worry about looking silly to your kids. It's better to look silly than scary.

3. Choose a positive mantra that you can repeat in times of stress. "I'm capable of remaining calm" or "I've got this" repeated often and out loud will help you calm down.

4. Take deep breaths in for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, and release for a count of eight. Repeat four times.

5. Pretend you are being recorded. Yes, I'm serious! If you knew they were going to show this situation on national television, you'd probably react differently.

Why it's worth the effort

If almost every parent yells, what's the big deal? Raising your voice can feel like a smack across the face. In fact, one study found that yelling is as harmful as hitting.

According to Dr. Kristen Race of The Mindful Life, "Yelling activates the structures of in the limbic system that regulate 'fight or flight' reactions. Repeated activation to these areas tells the brain that their environment is not safe, thus the interconnecting neurons in these areas must remain intact. Because pruning must happen, neurons will be pruned from structures like the prefrontal cortex where higher cognitive functions tend to be regulated."

To put it bluntly, yelling at our children negatively affects their brains. We cannot see the damage inflicted, but deep inside the brain, neural structures are being affected. In addition, frequent yelling erodes the parent-child relationship which is so important for healthy growth.

Your no-yelling plan

1. Join a support group.

There are several yell-free groups on social media. If you're uncomfortable with letting strangers know your business, gather up a few close friends and enlist their help. Tell them of your plan to yell less at your family and ask them to help hold you accountable.

2. Declare your home a yell-free zone.

Post signs. As a bonus to this, your kids can't yell either! Give yourself a pom pom in a jar every time you manage to quell your yell. When that jar is full, buy yourself those new shoes you've been eyeing! I'm not typically a rewards and punishments kind of gal, but sometimes a little incentive is a good thing.

3. Go to the bathroom and yell silently into the mirror, only mouthing what you want to say.

Why? This does two things. One, you get it out. Sort of. Two, you see exactly what it is that your child sees. That image of the twisted raging face is likely to stick with you the next time you feel like screaming at your kid.

4. Be proactive.

If you know that the morning rush makes you mad, change your routine. Get up early. Set things out the night before. Give yourself extra time. Start the day with a short meditation.

5. Release your guilt.

It's easy to hold onto it, but once you realize you should have responded differently, you can let the guilt go. It's served its purpose. Perfection isn't an achievable goal. Aim for doing better, and celebrate the small wins.

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The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

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Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


Belly oil

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Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

$58

Belly mask

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

$42

Nipple + lip ointment 

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Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

$28

Belly tattoos

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

$18

This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class

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Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

$79

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$19.95

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Foam pogo stick

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Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

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This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$79.99

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

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Extended breastfeeding just happened for me—and I'm in no rush to end it

My son is two and a half and still nursing, and it's what makes sense for us.

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When I became pregnant with my first child, I assumed that I would breastfeed. I also assumed that I would pump and give bottles. I even had all the bottles, a bottle warmer, and a bottle drying rack all ready to go. I made sure I got my pump before the baby came, so I was ready. But then, I actually tried pumping a couple of times and hated it. It was tedious, time-consuming, and not as effective, so nursing was the standard between my two children. It came naturally for me, and I found it the easier of the two options since I stayed home with them anyway. I was always there when they needed it.

I was able to breastfeed my first until she was two and a half, at which point, I was seven months pregnant with her brother. Between the hormones, being touched out, and being uncomfortable, I decided to fully wean her. It had been coming for some time because the clock was ticking on getting her to sleep on her own before the new baby came since we had been co-sleeping up to this point.

I cut night feedings first, moved her to her own bed, and then weaned her completely as I went along in my pregnancy. She still wanted to nurse to sleep, but I had to stop eventually because I was so uncomfortable. My body and brain could not take it anymore, but I'm proud I made it that far with her and that I nursed that far into pregnancy.

When my second child came around, my son, breastfeeding was not only easier, but I found myself here: extended breastfeeding.


He recently passed two and a half, which is where my daughter stopped, and he is still co-sleeping. He still nurses quite a bit, because his tummy hurts because of constipation issues. He still uses it to soothe and help him go back to sleep at night. He's getting too big to stay in our bed much longer, but I'm in no rush to wean him completely until he's ready.

Being able to stay home with them has definitely fostered the breastfeeding relationship. Cuddling is a huge part of it, too, and I'll continue to breastfeed until it makes sense to stop.

While my husband doesn't always agree with that philosophy and tells him that he's a big boy and can be done having milk, it's ultimately not up to him. I told my son that we would work through it together.

It is still an emotional connection thing, and at the same time, it still has benefits for him. He's still getting nutrients especially designed for him. He's still getting supplemental nutrition while he doesn't want to eat as much otherwise if his stomach is hurting.

My body has been doing this for a long time. I'm used to it. While I get touched out some days, I also know how helpful breastfeeding still is to help him settle down and how much he still appreciates it. I don't feel the need to cut him off quickly—both for his sake and mine.

I'm also painfully aware that this is probably my last baby. My breastfeeding journey, over five years in the making, will soon be over. As long as he is still getting the benefits and I'm not stressed over it, I'll let it continue on a limited basis. I know it will end soon—it has to. He will be growing up and entering the next stage before I know it. But until then, I'm going to cuddle my baby boy a bit longer. I'm going to let him nurse at certain times and in certain situations.

I never intended to do extended breastfeeding with either of them, but it just happened naturally. And that's okay. You need to do what makes the most sense and do what your intuition tells you is right for your family.

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