No More Screaming Moms
If I surveyed moms to ask what frustrates them, it wouldn’t surprise me if “screaming/yelling at my children” would make the top ten. Maybe it would even make the top five. If you would rate it high on your list, know you’re not alone.
When moms (and dads) talk with me at conventions, in quiet whispers, many admit they scream at their children. They then humbly ask me for help. I hear things like, “I just get so frustrated! What can I do instead?!?”
I’m grateful my friend, Sue Heimer, has written her important book, When You Feel Like Screaming: Practical Help for Frustrated Moms. I learned much when reading it, quickly endorsed it, and am selling it at conventions and on our website’s shopping cart.
To benefit you, I’ve asked Sue to answer a few questions I predict you would ask her if you could sit down to talk.
Sue, lots of moms I talk with want to figure out why they scream. What are some of the main causes?
Kathy, in my survey of over 300 women, 298 admitted that they had at the very least “raised their voice.” I’ve discovered that the word “scream” is too harsh for many women to admit to. They prefer to use words such as “yelling,” “losing it,” or “flipping out.” It really doesn’t matter what we call it. Many moms want to stop.
My survey participants had no trouble listing the triggers of why they find themselves flipping out on family members. Their stories tumbled out with an overarching theme of stress, exhaustion, and being overwhelmed with demands.
I, too, hear about these three causes when talking to moms (and dads) about complaining and arguing. Do moms need to know why their frustrations escalate to screaming in order to stop screaming? How can they figure it out?
Yes, it is important to identify what triggers you to lose your “indoor mommy voice.” Change begins when we become hyper-aware of our breaking point.
A mom can be experiencing an amazing calm, controlled day, and then, it happens. We lose it. Again.
The days I lost it I hardly wanted to document or journal the moment. I would rather just forget it. However, parents just don’t lose it. There is always a build-up.
A momma can commit to noticing what is happening around her before she screams. For a week, make a note or type the circumstances prior to yelling into her phone. Is it the mountains of laundry, children fighting, or husband late for dinner again and you are pacifying “starving” children? Maybe it is the bedtime routine where every night you go to bed feeling guilty because you “flipped out” when your child got out of bed for the seemingly 100th time? Be honest. What drives you nuts and sends you on a trip on the screaming train?
Now you will be armed with knowledge, and you can formulate a plan to combat those triggers.
This makes a lot of sense. Moms need to humble themselves to see the patterns. Many I talk with struggle to do this because of the guilt they feel. What advice do you have for these moms?
Yeah. I know all about the guilt that charges in after the vocal explosion. My advice is to apologize to your children. Tell them you are sorry about your outburst and ask them to forgive you. From toddler to teen, they deserve the respect of an apology. Use the guilt as a catalyst for change and formulate a plan of action.
One of the best things about your book is that you free moms from the guilt they may be experiencing. It’s short and accessible and full of hope. Some of that hope comes from your many practical ideas. I hope many who read this blog will buy your book so you don’t need to share all your ideas here. J What would you like to share?
The book walks you through how to identify your triggers. Once you have narrowed them down, it is time for action. I share tips and strategies that work. Start with the obvious and change it up. For instance, if your trigger is crying hungry children because dad is late again from the office, create a new schedule and give them a snack at 4:30. Or you could feed the children at 5:30 each night whether dad is home or not. Yes, you are giving up “family dinner” but the alternative is a crazy lady in tears losing her indoor voice in a major way. If they do eat early, maybe they can still sit with their dad later when he eats so they can talk about their days.
If your trigger is the endless mounds of laundry, consider using a laundromat once a week where you can have multiple loads going at once. This will decrease the laundry mountain to a manageable mound.
After discovering, and modifying the apparent triggers look for the broader patterns. If your children are consistently not following through on instruction, which puts you “over the edge” it is time to purchase a timer. When an instruction is given, set the timer. When the allotted time is up, if the directive is not accomplished (cleaning up room, getting ready for bed, sweeping the living room, setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, getting ready for school, etc.) then assign an age-appropriate consequence (extra chores, earlier bedtime, no afterschool snack, stand in corner). There is no bribing, begging or screaming. This takes the pressure off of the parents and puts it solely on the child. I often said to my sons (yes, I have four of them J, “I am so sorry you chose not to obey and complete the task in the allotted time. Perhaps next time you will make that choice. In the meantime (state consequence).
Challenge yourself to do something different. Because what you are doing isn’t working.
Any last comments? What would you like to add?
Momma, you are imperfect. And even after identifying your triggers and making changes, you will still experience challenging days where you scream or lose it with those you love. Ask forgiveness, identify what changes need to be made, and move forward. You ARE the imperfect BEST mom for your child. Tomorrow is a new day.
I trust something Sue shared has been encouraging and helpful. As always, thanks for your trust and for spending time here.
Sue will help you identify reasons you raise your voice, lose it, let your frustration win out, and end up screaming when you certainly didn’t want to – again. You’re not a terrible person! You’re a mom being challenged by your children and your own adjustments to their ages and stages. When you discover your triggers, you’ll know which of Sue’s practical ideas to implement to help both you and your children. Sue knows it’s easy to get stuck in the negatives and to lose hope. Her personal and vulnerable stories are coupled with doable ideas so you can and will make progress. The questions at the end of every short chapter will direct your thinking. They will help you move beyond your confusion and despair to real change. You’ll be glad she included them. Sue won’t shame you. You can read this, laugh, and discover how to be a scream-free mom. I highly recommend it.
Sue Heimer is an author, counselor, Bible teacher, and international speaker. She is the president and founder of Leaving Your Legacy Ministries, a ministry to encourage and support women in every stage of life. She is a sought after conference and retreat speaker inspiring thousands of women each year with her messages of hope.
Sue’s greatest passion is to encourage women to love and lean on God in every aspect of their lives. She is a certified Biblical Counselor and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. As a member of the prestigious Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she is honored to be recognized as one of the top National Christian Communicators.
Sue’s greatest blessing and joy is that of being a wife to Curt, for over 30 years, and mom to four adult sons who, along with their spouses, continue to add grandchildren to their lives. Sue and her husband Curt have the privilege of working and residing at The Gatehouse in Grapevine, TX. The Gatehouse is a supportive living community where women in crisis receive safe refuge and practical resources for permanent positive change.