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Excessive Anger Outbursts

by Anonymous

Hello. I completely lose control with my 2 year old daughter. Every day, I get stressed over mealtimes with her. I feel like she should eat some of what I offer her or try to feed her. She resists, and throws food around, and does not want to eat mostly. This almost every time pushes my buttons, and before I know it I am upset and cursing my daughter calling her bad names, and using expletives and verbally lashing out at her.

Sometimes, when she cries too much resisting bedtime, I again lose control, and when I get her off her crib, I end up cursing her and verbally lashing her again. Occasionally the anger is so bad (since I really wanted that time to myself after her bedtime) that I spank her a little on her thighs.


Today for example, at 9:30 pm she could not sleep and I tried letting her cry it out. It didn't work, so I got her downstairs and to play on her train table. I took her upstairs to her room, (10 pm) and put her down, but she screamed and cried as soon as I left. I lost control again, and for the 3rd or 4th time that same day, went into another verbal and angry outburst. I brought her downstairs and scolded her loudly a lot, and name-called her and teased her with sarcasm because at this point I was mad at her and wanted her to learn a lesson.

Then came the scary part - I tried to scare her by roaring like a lion with my mouth open real wide and she did get scared. That gave me a scare, and I stopped that, but I still wanted her to learn her lesson. I then turned off the lights in that room, and waited outside. She was clueless and did not cry now. I waited outside the room for a little bit. By now, my anger was a tad lower. I wanted to try taking her to her crib and seeing if she could sleep. This time I lay in a bed next to her to help calm her, because something was scaring her. My anger had subsided. She did try to sleep and was asleep in minutes. I came back downstairs to do things for myself. This was my time, and I always need it.

Since I get frustrated easily and can't handle the strife of feeding and putting a child to sleep, with the crying bouts, I either go into crying spells myself or severe anger outbursts which I see as a threat to my child.

What can I do?



Response from Dr. DeFoore

Thank you so much for reaching out for help. You are doing something good for yourself and your child here. I will give you some counseling here, and I will refer your story to others who will also be able to help you. It is very good that you are trying to get help, and it is very important for your child.

Here is what I recommend:

1) Take some time in the morning, or any time you can, and write about your own past experiences of pain and trauma. You have trauma in your own past, or you would not be acting this way with your child. Simply write in detail about the times in your own past when you were yelled at, called names or abused or neglected in any way. Keep writing in detail about these experiences on a daily basis, for at least 15 minutes at a time. This may help you to feel better, and perhaps not take your anger out on your child.

2) There is a very wise and good part of you, that wrote your story on this web site instead of just continuing to hurt your child. Think about that good person you are inside, and make a decision to be kind and gentle to your daughter. She is an innocent child, and she is very vulnerable and dependent on you. It is your job to provide her with a loving, safe home.

3) Tell yourself (because it is true), that your daughter cannot do anything wrong. She can never be "bad." She is a good, innocent child and everything she does and feels is natural and good, even if it is not what you want. Every time you think of her, picture her smiling and laughing, and remember how beautiful and precious she is. No problem is ever her fault. You are the responsible one.

4) Start writing in a journal every day. There are two kinds of journaling I want you to do: a.) Write from your anger and frustration, just to vent on the paper so that you don't vent on your daughter. Keep writing until you feel some kind of release or relief. b.) Then write all that you like and appreciate about yourself, your daughter, and the world around you. Do this journaling every day, and it will definitely help you.

5) If you are religious or spiritual at all, then pray for patience and kindness with your daughter. If you are a member of a church in which you feel safe and accepted, then go to that church and pray there. That can also help you a lot.

6) I will be sending the link to this page to some people who are very knowledgeable and skilled in this area, and hopefully they will offer help and support for you as well. Watch this page on this web site for comments, which is where others' help and support will come from.

7) I believe that you are a good person, and that is why you wrote your story on this site. You want to do the right thing, and you do not want to hurt your daughter, so you have reached out for help. Do not give up on yourself. Keep writing on this site, or continue to reach out for help in any direction that works for you. You can overcome this problem and be a good mother to your child.

8) Be relaxed about her eating. Offer her the food, and let her eat what she chooses. Research has shown that children will choose the best foods in the right amounts when they are given the choice in a safe environment. Trust her little mind and body to make the right choices for her.

9) Finally, you mention that you want your daughter to "learn a lesson." The only lesson she needs to learn is what you teach her by example. Follow the above recommendations so that you can bring her a loving, peaceful, kind mother.

10) Make some time to have fun and relax, for yourself. If possible, get some help with your child so that you can have a little more time to yourself. The better you feel personally, the better mother you will be.

I wish you all the best in your efforts to be the good mother you really are, and to create a safe, loving home for your daughter. I see you and your daughter well and happy.

Dr. DeFoore

P.S. If you found this to be helpful, please consider making a donation to this site to support our mission.

Comments for Excessive Anger Outbursts

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Jan 25, 2011
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Thank God Gor This Post
by: stephanie

I am so glad I found this one I felt so alone in my battle. The article was exactly what I needed to hear--that I am not alone. I felt as though everything my child did irritated me. I yell, scream and curse while knowing ALL ALONG this is NOT ok for me to do. Sometimes I don't know who this women is yelling at her child--and then I realize it is me yelling. I contacted a counselor and will become a better parent.

Sep 12, 2010
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From Dr. DeFoore
by: Anonymous

To the person who wrote the comment, "Understanding." If you see your problems increasing, and everything getting worse, that is probably time to seek counseling. You definitely don't want to just let things continue to get worse and just wait to see what happens. Take some kind of action now in change your pattern.

Follow the recommendations I made in this story, "Excessive Anger Outbursts" or sign up for this anger management class online. Just take positive action for your own sake and for your family.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Sep 11, 2010
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Understanding
by: Anonymous

This is so my life, with my husband,my children, my mother, other family ,members. Mostly with my husband though. It has gotten worse the past few months. I feel like I am losing control of my life. It is nice to know I am not alone. Is it advisable to seek out counseling?

Mar 15, 2009
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Late but heartfelt response
by: Denbie

I'm coming into this rather late. I am so glad that the writer has found some good advice and is on her way to taking care of herself which is the prerequisite for caring for her family. I just wanted to comment on the fact that I know it is difficult to go from career to being a stay at home Mom.

Although the time is precious and can make a huge difference in the life of your children it takes quite a bit of adjustment. Staying at home is not for everyone. I, myself, was just not good at being Susie homemaker. I was very ready to go back to work when my youngest reached school age and therefore had the best of both worlds. But early on, it took much concerted effort to "enjoy" life away from the world of adults and all the social reinforcement derived from being gainfully employed. The things you've mentioned doing for yourself--counseling, journaling, pursuing part time work & your singing- will definitely put you on the road to a healthy you and a healthy relationship with your daughter.

I want to encourage you to sign up for a Mother's Day out program in the interim. I found my children needed time away from me as much as I needed time away from them. I am sure this was a key to my sanity. I am thankful that you reached out to Dr. DeFoore and to this website and hope it has helped you feel better.

Parenting is undoubtedly the hardest job in the world and the most rewarding. My husband and I tried to remind ourselves that we were raising future adults. It helped to put a futuristic spin on all the day in and day out trials and tribulations. The traits that we felt were most important were the ones we wanted to reinforce.

For example: Communicating -"no you don't get what you want by screaming and throwing a tantrum." Healthy Curiosity about the world around us -"Yes the frog is fun to catch but if you were caught what would you want your catcher to do?" And knowing what consequences mean- "you were told not to write on the wall but you chose to do so therefore you get to (help) clean the wall instead of watching your favorite TV show."

I hope you will learn to sing and laugh with your child even when the going gets tough. It will enrich your lives immensely. Thanks for being conscientious about the most important job in the world! Good luck and good life!!

Mar 12, 2009
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Thanks for all your valuable suggestions
by: Anonymous

Thanks to all of you once again for so kindly walking me through my anger issues. I particularly liked the point about affirmation. Yes, I need to thank my life for my beautiful children and my husband.
I will pursue my singing and a part-time job with more seriousness but I am going to accept it as it comes. I will be going through counseling and also seek support groups since I sometimes do find it hard to cope with my everyday communication struggles. My child is developmentally delayed and her special needs sometimes wear me out. I think sometimes as moms who shoulder the most of the parenting load, we seek some support and sympathy from our husbands first.
All I ask from men is that please listen to your wife if she feels stressed out and accept her even if she is not perfect.
I am a happy person today and I am thankful that I am surrounded by such wonderful people like you all. God bless you all.

Mar 12, 2009
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Follow up
by: Dr. DeFoore

Thanks, Vicky and Cherry for your great input and suggestions! I'm not a mom (obviously) and it's good to get ideas straight from those "in the know."

To Anonymous: I'm so glad that you felt better after writing on this site, and didn't get mad the next day. Maybe you have found something that works! You can be the kind of mom you want to be, but as you said you might end up feeling the anger again in the future. So--I'm so glad to hear that you plan to keep writing...whether you do it here, or on your own, just keep writing your feelings. It will help you remember who you are and how you want to be.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Mar 12, 2009
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surrendering control (continued)
by: Anonymous

Here are some ideas to try:

1. Surrender some control when you can. Remember that your child is a special and unique person with her own feelings and needs that are just as important as yours. She needs your help to become aware of her needs, how to express them in healthy ways, and how to find creative solutions for meeting them. You can help her through surrendering some control and through example of good self awareness, communication, and creative problem solving.

2. Ask for help. You have already taken a big step by asking for help here, but don't stop with this. Ask family and friends to let you vent to them when you are overwhelmed. Get a support network going, even if it's only online. Find forums to be part of where you can discuss the difficulties of parenting with other moms. Ask for a break. Enjoy a hobby while someone you trust watches the kids. Take a night off just to relax, take a hot bath, and sip tea. Do these things for yourself as often as you can.

3. Ask yourself if there are other areas of your life draining you and adding to your stress. Is there anything you can do to reduce stress in other areas? We all put ourselves in situations of un-needed stress from time to time if we aren't paying attention.

4. Affirmations. This is a big one for me. Every day tell yourself good things. While resting say something like "Today is a wonderful day, everything is as it should be, everything is perfect." Affirm whatever it is you want to believe to yourself, out loud. Do this as often as you can remember to while relaxing, and in times of stress also.

5. Look into gentle and respectful parenting methods. Google "Nonviolent Communication", "Consensual Living", and "Respectful Parenting". There are some great philosophies out there to help you learn the skills to parent compassionately, solve problems creatively, and communicate nonviolently.

Peace,
Cherry

Mar 12, 2009
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surrendering control
by: Cherry Pacic

As a woman who stays home all day with 3 children ages 2-10 I can definitely agree with you that parenting is difficult. I have found this especially so being a person who also has felt a strong need for control in my life.

I have come to accept something about parenting that has been quite a journey for me, and that is a strong need for control and children are not well suited to each other. Considering I already have the children my parenting journey has been geared a lot towards learning to surrender control.

As Dr. DeFoore mentioned children can never be inherently bad. They are curious, growing, innocent creatures who are trying to figure out how to get their needs met. Because they have not yet developed the advanced communication skills or problem solving skills that we have as adults their attempts to figure out how to meet their needs can come out as tantrums, throwing and hitting, refusal to go along with what doesn't feel right to them, etc.

I've realized in my parenting experience that my need for control can blind me to things I consider more important like helping a young child develop better communication skills, giving time and space for my child to explore his own needs, trusting that my child is fully capable of becoming a well adjusted person who can meet his needs without harming others with my guidance, patience, and compassion. I have come to believe that my children don't need rigid control and that it actually hinders them on their own paths of personal development.

Food and sleep are two basic needs all humans have. From a young age children can learn the bodily awareness to realize what they need in these areas. If encouraged to pay attention to how they feel, and if shown good communication by example even toddlers can tell a parent when they are tired, or what they would like to eat, or when they are hungry. The battle comes when the parent feels the child's need clashes with their own. The child is not tired, but mom is, or mom will be busy later, but the child isn't hungry yet.

Finding creative solutions to seemingly clashing needs can be difficult and exhausting at times, but I feel it pays off by reducing the amount of energy spent in control battles, or guilty feelings over emotional outbursts.


Mar 11, 2009
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Re: your responses to dealing with sudden anger outbursts
by: Anonymous

Thank you Dr. DeFoore for your kindest response. I completely agree with every word you say and suggest. I am a very passionate and kind person by nature and won't even hurt a fly.

Part of my anger is due to frustration in life. I am a highly educated competent woman who had to step down in my career to raise my family. I have a lot of interests and hobbies like singing and painting which I somehow have not been able to fulfill.

I love my children and my husband dearly and don't ever want to make a negative impact in their lives. Yes, I do believe in God and ask him to give me the strength to cope with my anger and deal with my children with calmness and resolve.

I don't attribute my anger to any trauma - it's just a negative manifestation of my passion. It's just that I find parenting difficult and seem to want to have control and expect a strict order in everything I do. What a surprise - children cry! In the past, I used to cry everytime my son used to cry.

When I woke up this morning, I woke up very ashamed of myself for losing my temper with my daughter. She woke up fine and I smothered her with kisses. I mentally prepared myself for crying, eating struggles and others, and I just did not lose my temper at all! But I still know some other day, this could happen again and I will follow your advice to write and vent it out.
Thanks a lot. I will keep writing.

Mar 11, 2009
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Terrible two's
by: Vicky Benoit

I am also grateful that you are reaching out for help! I want to mention a couple of behavioral observations, and please know that I had a challenging daughter, who is currently completing her PhD....I made it through without squashing her spirit, and so can you. First, her outbursts are not directed at your failings as a mother.

During meal time, have a schedule that is totally consistent. Offer her a meal, at the same time, with a variety of items. If she doesn't eat them, or throws them, her meal is not available to her. The worst possible thing you can do, after feeling guilty, is to offer her food at another time. Food is only offered in the same place each day, hopefully the same times. It would be wonderful to chat with her as she picks at her food, but whatever you do, don't talk or encourage her to eat. Give her 15-20 minutes to complete the meal, and if she eats some, a dessert may be offered. No dessert if the food is on the floor or walls. She may go without a few meals, but she will learn that she is offered food at the same time every day and that's when she has to eat. Your job is to be consistent, and do NOT talk about her eating at all. EVER.

Next is bedtime. Again, always at the same time, always the same rituals. Story time, one story only, prayers, then light out. NEVER say anything except goodnight, and NEVER go back in after the ritual is complete. The first few nights may be hard to bare, but within a week she will get into line. At this point, she has just learned to get louder and worse behaving before she gets your attention. Even your bad words are attention. Keep this time quiet and consistent and I assure you, if you do these steps within a week, you'll be amazed! I know that we as mothers can feel guilty and overwhelmed....but this is not an indictment on your value. It's just looking from a distance that is helpful. Be consistent, and never scream at your child. Words can erode all the good actions you do toward her.

I hope this info is useful. Good luck!

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