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5 Things to Do After You’ve Lost Your Cool With Your Kids

Lately, parenting has been a struggle. Perhaps it’s the anxiety of having a seriously ill grandmother, or maybe it’s the end of the year burn-out or the excitement of the holidays. Regardless, I’ve had epic battles with my children, and I haven’t handled myself well.

I’ve yelled.

I’ve been sarcastic.

I’ve disciplined rather than guided.

I’ve put myself before my children.

When I screw up and blow it with my kids, I feel awful. The guilt and burden of my less than ideal approach are suffocating.

Perhaps it’s because of my screw-ups that I’ve learned these strategies to make amends. Regardless, I want to share these tips with you because no matter what you do… you will screw up and we need to know how to recover.

Check out these 5 things you should do after you've blown it with your kids. #parenting Click To Tweet

1. Cool down.

Whenever there’s a major blow up, everyone, including myself, needs to cool down. Having some time away from one another is critical. The time away helps to calm nerves and reflect on how to proceed.

I like to cool down by putting on my headphones and listening to a worship song, or I may read my Bible while riding the exercise bike or I may simply cry and pray.

Take a few minutes away and nourish your body, mind, and soul.

2. Apologize.

One of the essential steps in parenting is letting our kids know that we’re flawed. Being honest and transparent with our children, lets them know that we are human, we screw up, we’re not perfect, and that we don’t expect them to be perfect.

Get down on your knees and tell your child you messed up.

Whether you yelled, insulted them, punished them over a trivial issue, whatever it is… tell them you are sorry for your behaviour.

However, I want to clarify something. If your child has done something wrong, apologizing for your reaction does not let your child off the hook for their disobedience. This action lets your child know that you feel grieved at the way you responded to their behaviour. It lets them know that you will take responsibility for your behaviour, the same way that you want them to take responsibility for their behaviour.

3. Tell them you love them.

It’s essential our children know that we love them no matter what they do. You don’t want your child to live a life thinking that they will be hated if they screwed up and loved if they do right. No one wants to live that way! Tell them you love them no matter what and…

4. Show them you love them.

Whether it’s a hug, a cuddle, reading a book or spending time together… let them know that you value them by spending time with them.

5. Forgive yourself.

This is a tough one for me. I often hold myself accountable for too long. The grief I feel then compounds, and I end up feeling worse. When I feel worse, I lash out, and I continue to mishandle situations. It’s a vicious circle, and it needs to be broken.

You are going to screw up. If you choose to live in guilt and frustration with yourself, you’ll never see a breakthrough. Forgive yourself and move on.

Looking forward.

I never feel good after I lose my cool with my kids, but these strategies help put me on the right track.

My #1 way to avoid blow ups and let downs is to pour love on my children. When they have done something upsetting, these are the moments that I try to move in close and offer a snuggle or a hug. Physical contact does something to my brain… it reminds me that I love this little person exceedingly more than the walls they coloured, the tantrum they threw, or the words they used. That one pause and embrace calms me and helps me proceed with grace.

While I still have moments when I blow it, my fuse isn’t as short when I’m loving and connected to my children.

How do you handle things when you lose it with your kids? Is there something you do that I haven’t mentioned? I invite you to take a few moments and share your thoughts.


Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care.

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30 thoughts on “5 Things to Do After You’ve Lost Your Cool With Your Kids

  • Janine Huldie

    What great advice and I admit I have had my moments here, too. Trust me, I am most definitely human and not the perfect perfect, but like you I do try to make sure once it is over to let my kids know that I do love them and that yes even moms do make mistakes. Thank you though for sharing today and also wishing you a wonderful week ahead now xoxo ;)

  • Tiffany-A Touch of Grace

    I have found myself getting more upset with Little A lately. I think it’s the combo of pregnancy hormones and this age and all the struggles it’s coming with. Glad I’m able to do all the things you suggested. A good cry helps me lately, haha!

  • Amanda || Growing Up Madison

    If it’s one thing that I always do is apologize. I have to be the bigger person especially if I was wrong and it shows them that I’m not to proud to apologize to them. Also shows them that it’s ok to say you’re sorry and mean it. I always tell them I love them but I do need to do it more often. Great tips here!

  • Lowanda J

    Jennifer, I know exactly how you feel. I used to tear myself up thinking about the times I should have done things differently. One thing we have to remember is that we are only human. The advice you gave are great for everyone who deals with children to read. Take care.

  • Amanda

    I so needed this today! I blew up at my 5 yr old yesterday and my 2 yr old today! I always feel awful after losing my cool as well. These are great steps. 1 and 5 are hard steps to follow though. It’s harder to find ways to get away to cool down when the kids are so little. Often I find myself apologizing and telling them I love them even though I’m still angry, it takes awhile to cool down then my 2 yr old comes up and says, “You o.k. now, Mommy?”

  • Emily

    Great thoughts here, Jennifer. I will be sharing.

    I agree that physical contact definitely resets the brain and prioritizes our thoughts and tempers the reaction. Eye contact can do a similar for me. Sometimes. :)

  • Elizabeth Spencer

    Thank you for this, Jennifer! I hopped right on over since I seem to be perpetually losing my cool with my girls. Actually, I’m not sure I ever FOUND my cool to begin with. Will try really, really hard to put these into practice when they get home from school today because with one tween and one teen, there is always drama. ;) Christmas blessings to you…thank you for being such a gracious hostess!

  • Liz Jo

    Such great advice! Being a mom is tough, but losing your cool and getting over the guilt is tougher. We’ve all done it at one point. But it’s best to move on forgive yourseld and remember that youre trying to be the best parent you can be.

    liz @ sundays with sophie

  • Rebekah

    Boy, can I relate Jennifer! I also find when I am stressed with something else( I have a sick mother) I can easily lose my patience with my children. I agree with all your steps. It’s so important to let your kids see that you are willing to admit when you have blown it and humble yourself. Hugging is so healing especially with the child that is trying your patience. I often gather all my children together after we have had a hard day and or blow out and we all pray together to ask God to help us with our attitudes and behavior. It is always so healing and I usually end up shedding tears of conviction. Thanks so much for being real and sharing what you have learned to help when you mess up. I appreciate that you point out that it’s going to happen and share what has helped you!

  • Sera @ Caramel Crew

    Thank you for this post! Especially after all the stress and short tempers that Christmas time can sometimes bring, this list was useful to read. I especially loved the reminder that we should also show the kids our love in some concrete way, not just tell them. It makes such a huge difference to them. Thanks for sharing and have a great January!

  • pamela

    I learned a powerful lesson from losing my cool with my kids. The lesson was, whatever I over reacted to was NEVER about them. so much of my reaction was tied up to my expectations not being met. combined with the emotional state I was prior to me losing my cool. Parent have so much on their plate, trying to squeeze 100 “To-Do’s” into a 50 “To Do” container. For example, it’s 1:00 in the afternoon and you have to get to the store, but it’s nap time..YIKES So there you are with an over tired toddler screaming in Target. The truth is not making it to the store is NOT that important. And the price you pay feeling guilty and forgiving yourself just isn’t worth that carton of milk.

    • Jennifer Bly

      Oh the guilt – you’re right – that’s so tough! I love your point about your reaction being tried to your expectations not being met. How true is that?!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  • Abiola

    Been there, a lot of times…those moments are constant with my just-turned 7yr old and 5yr old, I tell you. But I try these days to refrain from acting or yelling but rather walking away.

    Love the tips as well.