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I spank, I yell, I get mean... I want to change and need help.

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

Most recent update on post #32.----

Before I go into what I hope to be a brief story.. I am hoping to hear from parents who have not always been the gentle discipline type, but managed to change to it with or with out difficulty. My purpose in hearing from these types of parents is because I feel like I'll never be able to turn it (my anger issues) around and I desperately NEED and want to. 

So my title says some of the issues. I'm an honest person and at times too honest. I opened this account with the sole purpose of getting help for the issues I don't talk about or I talk about a little but not all for fear of judgment by other parents (i.e. my other mama friends). However, I also get that there are things I need to be judge on. There are times when I have been out of control, borderline/past the line abusive and I need to end that side of my "parenting" now. 

I never dreamed I would be the type of parent I am today. I never thought I'd yell or spank. I am an atheist and I believe in humanitarianism to its fullest. For the most part I am kind and caring to people. I generally adore all forms of humanity and want my children to be peaceful and happy. Most of my friends would call me funny, honest, open-minded, and fun to be around. SO... where did I go wrong. It went wrong the first time I spanked and it worked. My daughter (now 5) listened and did as told. My son (now 2.5) never has taken to spanking and hits back, to which I have stupidly retaliated against... don't hit- here let me hit you to get you not to hit. I'm not a stupid person and yet I've done a lot of stupid sh** when it comes to parenting. I love them but they enrage me. I hate when I'm not listened too. I can't stand when I say "pick up your toys" 1 million times and then walk in to find a worse mess than the one I last saw. Mostly though I become the worst type of parent when my partner and I are fighting. Again I'm not a stupid person... Yet when I get overwhelmed and stressed out I take it out on the kids. It wasn't always as bad as it is now and its not always bad. I do yell almost everyday... at some point and sometimes its more of a raised voice than a yell. I don't spank everyday or week. We also have days when I'm the best parent I can be and everything is peachy keen. I KNOW I confuse my kids. I have vicious mood cycles for which I had help at one point but that help ended the moment I turned 18, lucky me. I'm in my late twenties now.

I have rage issues. I know this and I know where they come from. I asked my family for help financially to start seeing a therapist (again) 3-4 years ago. I knew then that my parenting was going to be effected by issues of my past and present. Certain elements beyond my control... some of you may huff about that statement and I don't want to go into all the details because then this post would be too long. But please note I am not one to play victim, I am accountable for my actions. I'm pointing out that I saw this coming. I knew the moment I first spanked my daughter that I would not only feel bad about it but that I wouldn't know how to stop. I never got help for my anger issues (not just anger but depression and self-esteem) and I'm still asking. Still searching for outside help. I have no extra cash. In public I'm typically the type of parent I need/want to be all the time. Not every time, but most of the time. I don't really need advice on how to be a gentle parent because I've been that parent... in public or when I have family/friends over. I purposely take the kids out for long periods at a time because I'm at my best away from our home. Usually at least. Lately even being out has become a challenge. In the beginning, it was easy as pie to keep my cool. It seems the more I have lost my control, the easier it has become to loose it. At this point I wake up feeling like a ticking time bomb. 

My children are 5 and 2.5. I need to be better. Part of getting better (I know) means therapy to work through the issues that cause me to have trouble parenting how I know I should. I don't have the funds now but its one of the first things I'm saving towards. We are currently in the process of loosing our home and forced to find another. I say this only to help people understand where my current stress level is. I'm a SAHM. I have a partner, we are not married by choice. Our future tends to look bleek but there also may be a chance that we can change our lives for the better and soon. I want to change my parenting for the better now (yesterday) so that we can go on to be the type of family I dreamed about. 

Anyways, I'd love to hear from those who turned over a new leaf. Maybe it happened the moment of birth. Maybe it happened later on. Whenever it happened, I'm interested in hearing how and what made the change. Positive stories are a plus! If you have never spanked or yelled and have never dealt with rage issues, feel free to comment, but it will be hard for me to relate to you. Maybe still, however, you could share some of your methods of keeping calm and collected during times of stress since I know there isn't a single parent out there who hasn't been stressed by the kids or by outside influences at some point. 

A couple weeks ago I found an article by Orange Rino about yelling and how she stopped yelling for 365 days... now she's well over that. Anyways in the article she stated, she knew she had the ability to control her yelling because she didn't yell in public. I thought, not only was that honest, but that its true for me as well. I know I have the ability to control my temper, to get on my kids level, to listen and to discipline in a firm, but kind manner that teaches instead of indoctrinating robots. I want my children raised to be free thinkers. I know majority of the things that bug me now about them are going to be wonderful qualities in their adulthood. They are honestly amazing and extremely beautiful children... yes I'm bias but I hear it everywhere I go. Lately my daughter has been acting like mommy and its been a real eye opener. My eyes have never been shut to the issues I have. I did at one point think I could get a handle on all of it myself, but alas I couldn't. I try and I try again and I keep failing. Hence my searching for outside help... I cant afford therapy, but I'm hoping to possibly set up an online support network. I'd love to find others like me who want to change and just need a little extra support to push them on the right path. 

Thanks for reading. 
Edited by Shhhnevermind - 9/9/13 at 8:10am
post #2 of 39
First, I just want to give you a big hug. It takes guts and a high level of awareness to be where you are. I don't have too much advice, but I will say that I have made mistakes as a parent. I have apologized to my child more than I can say. I feel like apologizing is really important.

I'm wondering if there is some kind of program you can apply for to get you into therapy. Hoping someone else can chime in on that. It would depend on what state you are in but there may be some options for you.

Getting out of the cycle of violence is hard. I am a child that was hit, and so inside me is that child still. And I live with the fear that I will walk in my dad's footsteps. So far I haven't, but I understand a lot of what you are saying.

I know you said you didn't want any advice but I really feel like the more tools you have the better. Janet Lansbury's writings have helped me immensely. http://www.janetlansbury.com/

Good luck to you. I know you can be the parent you want to be. <3
post #3 of 39

For some Gentle discp comes easy because our kids are easy wired and maybe natural for us, but most it has taken a paradigm shift and the understanding that parenting and education is a process that takes time. The parenting pyramid starts with you - your ' Being' - focusing on yourself, health, emotional empowerment, leisure time also in your situation , in my humble opinion if you were also working it would help for many obvious reasons. The second level is your relationship with your partner - make time for that and don't talk about the kids . 3rd level - your relationship with your kids - focus on doing thing together , bonding, connecting , also around the house together and consulting them. 4th level correction or I prefer collaborative problem solving .


For anger - maybe your doc could recommend something

try to do things yourself -  when we don't expect something of others , we don't get angry with them -  if i want a tidy home = my responsibility , if i can get my kids to cooperate - great , if not it is on me - this liberates me from any negative feelings

check out mindfulness , meditation

reading - parenting books - my favorite Ross Greene the collaborative problem solving approach = the explosive child -lost at school  check the web

Alfie Kohn - Unconditional parenting -

emotional empowerment   - I like Byron Katie -  she says - you can't fight reality . By accepting reality , you are now liberated emotionally to begin to be creative about meeting the challenges.

It is not easy and there is no magic bullet

post #4 of 39

I just wanted to say that it takes courage to reach out and ask for help. You've making steps towards becoming a peaceful parent--by acknowledging that you need to change. Good for you. I wish you much luck! I can tell that you truly are a loving mama.

post #5 of 39

hey shhnevermind, good for you for deciding to change. You are doing a brave thing, and it is possible, I know it's hard, and you are doing the right thing to reach out to get some support. 

 I would recommend checking out a website called Hand in Hand parenting (www.handinhandparenting.org). Part of their approach is based on 'listening partnerships,' where you get to

talk to another parent about how you are feeling, and how difficult things are. They've found that simply talking about the feelings of anger that come up when we shout or yell or spank, releases those feelings that cause the behaviour. Then we are less likely to get that out of control feeling that leads to thse behaviours. Check them out, they have booklets you can buy that explain the whole idea (for 24 dollars so not too expensive, online classes, and a free online discussion group)


Lots of moms are like you and want to change and I think real change is possible, if you get some help with the feelings that are behind the spanking/shouting. What happened to you when you misbehaved as a child? How did your parents set limits? Talking about how all these things felt for you, to someone who cares, listens and shows empathy, can mean that you get to leave the past behind, and parent the way you want to in the present. Good luck. 

post #6 of 39

I meditate. Daily. If I don't, my anger, lack of patience, and irritability comes out. Daily meditation has been the best thing for me to improve the way I react to situations and circumstances. I give my son the dreaded ipad and tell him I'm going to meditate. Everyday. He sees the importance I place on daily meditation, short but daily. Meditation is free and accessible now. It has changed my life.

post #7 of 39

I have a quick temper, and struggled in my teens and early twenties with getting it under control. I've done some pretty stupid stuff as a kid that I regret now. I got it under control before I became a parent, and I wasn't struggling with a difficult past like you, but I do still have moments where I have to check myself as a parent. Here are some things that work for me...


1) Acceptance goes a long way. Accept the situation. Accept what the people around you are doing. I'm working a lot now on letting hurt into me and just accept that I've been emotionally hurt, rather than rejecting it with anger. It's really hard, but it's also much easier in a lot of ways. Take a moment to consciously think about the fact that it is there, and it will be there, before you try to deal with it.


2) Letting things go. That was a hard lesson for me to learn too. It goes along with acceptance. I used to think that I couldn't let things go until they were resolved, or they stopped being the problem that got me upset in the first place. That is not going to happen, or at least very rarely. It took a long time for me to be able to do this, but once I started each time I let things go it got easier and easier. Take a deep breath. It sounds cliched, and it doesn't mean anything until you've tried it with the genuine intent of letting go, but it really really can work. This goes along with the next thing...


3) You can only control your actions, not others. You can allow yourself to let it go and let it be. You can't make people be and do what you want. You can't stop them from doing what is bothering you. This also goes along with acceptance but I think is even bigger than that. Focus on your own behavior, and your own responses.


Also, don't discipline from a place of anger! Find a safe place for yourself where you can sort out your emotions before you address things. I've learned (very recently in fact) that there are very few things that need to be addressed ASAP when kids are concerned. Sometimes you can take a time out for yourself if you need to. Sometimes it can feel urgent (especially if you have control issues like I do) but it really is OK to take a step back and let the chaos/mess/badness remain until you are in a place where you can handle it. Go in the bathroom and shut the door if you have to.


I found once I mastered the 3 skills above, I could actually start influencing the world around me a little more to my benefit. You can't change the behavior of others, but you can watch how your behavior affects the responses of others. You can use that information to find better ways of interacting with people that brings about positive results. I think this is what a lot of parenting is about too.


Good luck! You can do it!

post #8 of 39
I could have written this post, thanks for doing it. I've got no advice as I'm still working on this daily/hourly, but I'm following your post in the hope that I too can become the parent I want to be all the time.
post #9 of 39

When you yell and raise your voice, you are letting the child take your power away.  Lower your voice make your statement and turn around and walk away.  Come back in a few minutes and if the child isn't doing what you told them to do, take something of theirs away from them for a short period of time.  Don't take it away for a long period of time because you are then punishing yourself.  But stick to  your guns!

post #10 of 39

I feel for you mama! hug2.gifI am also in the process of turning over a new leaf, so maybe some of my thoughts can help you too.  My kids are 7, 4, & 2.5 - they run all over me, don't listen to what I say, hit me and each other, make messes etc...and it makes me crazy because I want them to respect and listen to me! So after asking repeatedly and being ignored, I would lose it and get all "Joan Crawford / Mommy Dearest" on them, and then feel like the worst mom in the world. This is what I've recently started that has helped:


- The "One Time" rule: I explained to them that I'm tired of being ignored, and we now have this new rule: I EXPECT them to do things right away the first time I ask, because mommy ALWAYS asks nicely the first time, and there will be consequences if they do not listen.  I explained that I only get mad because I feel disrespected when they ignore me and disobey me, and I just want to raise them to be the best people they can be. I told them that sometimes there is not time to fully explain WHY I want them to do something, they just need to do it and then I will happily explain afterwards if they don't understand the reason. (Such as, telling them to get out of the street because there's a bus coming - my 7yo would give me attitude and say "Why? I don't wanna!" and get creamed before I could explain.)  I told them the best way they can show me their love and respect is to listen and say "Yes, mommy" when I ask them to do something.  In return, I ALWAYS show them my love and appreciation for listening to me, I hug them and thank them and tell them how proud I am that they are such good children and love me so much.


I found that they quickly became happy to comply the first time (sometimes they need a firm reminder by saying "Remember - ONE TIME, guys!") because they've realized I really do ask nicely the first time, and they get lots of praise when they listen right away. And they realize that since we started this "One time rule", I never get physically mad and my yelling has gone down from several times a day to very rarely, in only the most severe cases (like thoughtless actions that could result in serious bodily harm). The house is neater, with a much more positive energy, and table manners have improved, which makes DH much happier too when he gets home from work and we are able to have loving interaction and sit down to a pleasant family dinner.  Clear expectations and positive reinforcement go a long way, and it makes everyone feel so much better!


Our consequences are usually time out or loss of privileges, such as TV, dessert, or playdates. I will frequently add on household chores, or natural consequences, like "I asked you to pick up the broccoli you dropped under the table, and you didn't do it, so you get to help me mop the floor now." I always explain the consequence and reconnect with them afterwards (especially after a time-out), so they always feel loved and understand why they got in trouble, and how to keep it from happening again. Some may not agree with my method, but in our case, it was the only thing I could do that is effective without spanking or yelling or anything else unpleasant.

A pastor I talked to said he had a "one time rule" for his kids, and their consequence for disobedience was to get spanked with a Ping-Pong paddle! jaw2.gif I thought that sounded more than a bit extreme - and I couldn't help but think, "What Would Jesus Spank For?"  When he mentioned something about "Spare the rod, spoil the child", I told him I thought that meant a Shepherd's Rod, that is used for Guidance, not beating...more akin to FDR's saying "Walk softly but carry a big stick". He laughed and said, "Yes, but sometimes you have to use the big stick."  So in my inability to get him to see my perspective, and my unwillingness to agree with his philosophy, I modified his advice to suit MY beliefs...which IMHO, are much closer to what Jesus really would do. duck.gif Best of luck to you - Hope this helps!!

post #11 of 39
Originally Posted by greenkri View Post


1) Acceptance goes a long way. Accept the situation. Accept what the people around you are doing. I'm working a lot now on letting hurt into me and just accept that I've been emotionally hurt, rather than rejecting it with anger. It's really hard, but it's also much easier in a lot of ways. Take a moment to consciously think about the fact that it is there, and it will be there, before you try to deal with it.

I think I get what you're saying about acceptance...the only thing I would add, is that you must also COMMUNICATE this hurt to the ones who hurt you. Otherwise, you are not only accepting it, but condoning it as well.


When it comes to children, they are naturally self-centered, and must develop their sense of empathy. It is up to us to help them realize when they have hurt our feelings, and by doing so, we empower them to express when their feelings have been hurt by others.


Example: Little Bobby says, "I don't want to clean my room - I hate you, and I hate those stupid toys!" Of course you're hurt and angry - you're his mom, you expect him to listen to your requests, and you probably bought those toys. Instead of ignoring your feelings of hurt and anger, you could take a deep breath and say something like "Bobby, I love you and it hurts mommy's feelings when you talk to me that way - it makes me feel angry when you act disrespectful and don't listen to me. I don't deserve to feel this way any more than you do. Let's make this better. Please apologize, and then we can clean up."  Then later, when one of Bobby's classmates makes him feel hurt and angry, he will know he doesn't deserve to feel that way, and will seek out an appropriate solution to the problem, because you have given him a good example of how to deal with these emotions.

post #12 of 39

It's a constant battle for me.  I have a very short temper and for several reasons, I get overwhelmed with things that aren't my childrens' faults.  And when my anxiety peaks like that, I yell.  One thing that helped me is a mental image.  My neighbor witnessed one of my youngest daughter's tantrums and was a bit taken aback since she has a very quiet and reserved only child and my youngest child has been described multiple times as "intense."  But this neighbor saw me starting to lose it and gave me a great piece of advice.  When you are watching your child start to lose their minds over something and have a tantrum that you cannot head off, try to imagine yourself as the eye of the hurricane.  The storm is raging all around you but it cannot affect you because you are in the calm, peaceful eye where the sun is shining and hte winds have died down.  Let the child rage around you but keep your "eye" area clear of negativity and anger and stress.  When the child is done, you will be calm and cool and ready to address the issue and show love and acceptance instead of anger at the lack of control.

post #13 of 39
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to quickly post a thank you to everyone that has posted! I am planning to go through everyone's advice and links when I had more access to a computer. smile.gif My tiny phones makes my eyes hurt.

I also wanted to add that I haven't spanked my children in a couple months now. I did have a set back a couple days ago where I shook my child... Yeah... It was a "I want to spank you soooo badly that instead I'm going to shake you..." moment. Basically it was just as bad as spanking her and I was heartbroken. I have been trying sooo hard. It was after telling her to repeatedly not do something. This something is a trigger from MY past and when she does it I become a different person. Anyways I don't have time to elaborate but I am starting therapy 2x a week to deal with this particular issues as well as borderline personality disorder which it looks like I'm finally being diagnosed with.

After I hurt her, physically she was "okish" but emotionally she was devestated as was I. I lost my cool. I lost it because MY bad memories surfaced and I lost control. I apologized, I sat her in my lap and I told her what happened was not her fault, I was sorry, and I should never ever hurt her, that hurting her is never ok, mommy should never hurt her... she deserves better. I'm ashamed I lost it. I'm happy that she is such a forgiving child but I know if the behavior doesn't stop right now that will change. She will grow up hating me. I'm in therapy and I'm trying to move forwards from all of this. I'm trying not to dwell on this set back and reminding myself that I must do better, I will do better. I'm getting help. Thank you everyone again for your replies. I am reading them, I just don't always have the time to respond.
post #14 of 39
Kudos for recognizing your weaknesses as a parent and taking steps to improve! Many parents never get that far!

I've been a teacher of young children for 13 years and I have to maintain my cool no matter how frustrated I become, which at times is accutely challenging. I find what helps is to imagine someone is watching me (and sometimes someone is!) Being specific helps, like imaging a specific colleague, the principal, or the parent. Or, maybe even a tv crew for a reality show. I can't say that I have rage issues, so I don't know if it is powerful enough for that, but seems to work even when I'm really frustrated, overwhelmed, or tired. With my daughter (15 months) I do this sometimes as well, especially when I'm just overall feeling like a less-than-stellar parent. I will pretend that another parent - one I think is really good- is watching. I read a blog somewhere that a woman said she became a better mom by PRETENDING she was. This resonated with me bc I do this sometimes, especially when I'm feeling like I'm overwhelmed.

Some general advice. . . Make a list of the behaviors in you and the behaviors in your children that you want to change. Then, pick just ONE to work on. It is easy to get overwhelmed if you are trying to do too many things at once. It is also hard to see progress that way. You might feel like you have accomplished nothing if one behavior is still happening and not realize that another one has improved. Working on one at a time will help you focus more clearly and be less overwhelming - you can just ignore the other problems and tell yourself you can deal with that later. That can be liberating.

It sounds like a big trigger is when they ignore you, so you might want to tackle this first. A few thoughts about that: when you have a habit of yelling, they get in a habit of ignoring you until you start yelling. You need to stop yelling, period (pretend someone is watching. . .) Also, check your expectations. Most young kids can't be left to clean up their messes without supervision unless they have TONS of supervised practice and a very clear understanding of where things go. "He knew where to find it. . ." is not enough. So, try stayng with the kid when you give a direction. Example: "Please put your shoes where they go." Then, stand there until it happens - don't walk away and come back expecting it done. As a teacher, when a child isn't behaving as I want, my initial thought is to look at what needs to change with MY behavior and to think that I haven't successfully taught him how to do it. Essentially, it is my problem, bc I'm the adult. We do a lot of practicing to see what it "looks like, sounds like, andfeels like" to do something - often making a game of it. For fun, we also practice - briefly- how to do it the "wrong way" and have the kids say all the things that went wrong. This practicing is very powerful. of course, it doesn't always work, but when it doesn't, you have something to discuss. "Yesterday you showed me how to put your shoes away. What did that look like? How did you do it?" Usually this is enough to get results. It will take up a lot of time at first - big investment- but in the end will save you a lot.

Lastly, you didn't ask about this, but it seems relevant. You talked about issues with rage and mood. Most doctors will never suggest this, but through personal experience with close relatives, I know this can be food related. Some people experience mood swings, rage, and or depression from certain foods. Any number of foods can do this, but gluten, artificial colors/flavors, and preservatives (like bht) are pretty common triggers. For example, my brother will have fits of rage to the point of punching a hole in the wall if he eats certain artificial colors, vanillin, or bht. I know a number of people who have completely turned around major depression ond mood problems with diet change. Generally, therapists,phychiatrists, and phychologists won't even mention this - and even DISCOURAGE people from trying a diet chane, which is terribly sad and I think criminal! Just wanted to mention in case a simple change might help you. I recommend a naturopath or intergrative doctor to help figuring this out, if that is available to you.

Good luck on your journey and keep us posted!

(Sorry for typos. Phone is a pain in the A**)
post #15 of 39
Originally Posted by Shhhnevermind View Post

I apologized, I sat her in my lap and I told her what happened was not her fault, I was sorry, and I should never ever hurt her, that hurting her is never ok, mommy should never hurt her... she deserves better.

Yes!! I think it is ALWAYS good to apologize to your child if you do something out of line, good for you!!  I have done the same thing and it helps SO much to repair the bond, to let them know you realize your actions were not appropriate, and most importantly that it's not their fault and they deserve to be treated right. Don't worry mama, you will get through this just fine! 


Think of therapy as some "cocoon time" to cloak yourself in the ideal of what you want to be, process those feelings from the past that trigger your angry responses, cast them off, and emerge as the wonderful, loving mom you are! 


To back up what Sonjagrabel said, I know first hand that foods can be triggers as well...a clean diet without preservatives and artificial additives is great for you AND the kids! My kiddos and I have awful reactions to things like gluten, soy, corn, dairy, shellfish, salicylates, BHT/BHA, nitrates, sodium erythorbate, artificial colors, annatto, "natural flavors", etc.  I get low blood sugar REALLY fast if I don't eat enough protein, which makes me grumpy. I've noticed salicylates are a huge trigger for me, too much will give me a massive headache, mood swings, and make me hyper-sensitive to noise and other stressors...and they make the kids hyper through the roof, like they're on drugs! When the kids react to foods, their behavior can be unbearable; it's really hard to deal with patiently even when I'm feeling even-keeled.  Check here to see if you guys might have symptoms too:

www.salicylatesensitivity.com -  www.celiac.org -  www.fedupwithfoodadditives.info

Eliminating foods that trigger behavior problems can really help all of you.  Good luck and best wishes!! blowkiss.gif

Edited by my3beasties - 8/19/13 at 10:24am
post #16 of 39

They are doing a free tele-seminar on nonviolent communication.  I think you can ask questions and such.  Register for this:  https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5590/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=68087

post #17 of 39
ahhh! i have been struggling sooooo much with this. thank you!
post #18 of 39

Huge congrats to you for being able to be honest with yourself about your challenges.  I think that self-awareness is the first step to any change yet so many people don't want to take a honest look at themselves and admit to their flaws.  Being able to say "this is a problem and I am the cause of it" is at least half the battle as far as I am concerned.


You have also inspired me to really commit to the changes that I need to make in my reactions to my children's behaviors to bring our family closer to the loving and respectful place that I aspire to.  Thank you!

post #19 of 39

deleted, double post

post #20 of 39
I wanted to tell you that this post and the responses brought me to tears because I have been feeling much of the same. I am encouraged by your bravery to be honest and your courage to look at yourself with honesty. Thank u for this post, thank you for your honesty.
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