Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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The time a truck almost killed me and what it has to do with parenting

Sometimes people give us parents the advice that says if our kid bites someone, we should bite them back – to show them how it feels. That’s exactly the kind of quid pro quo parenting that doesn’t make any sense! We are their leaders!  We’re here to show them how to behave as opposed to how NOT to behave. In most cases the biting child (not a teething child – that’s different) knows that biting hurts. They’re biting  out of aggression! They’re biting because they’re angry,  and they’re trying to hurt and elicit a response. Biting them back shows them that biting is a good idea when you’re angry!  Look! Even Mummy does it! I’m angry with you because you bit, so now I’ll bite you. How does that cycle end? How then do we pull them out and say that behavior is NOT acceptable?

As adults we want to keep our kids safe and protected, kiss their boo-boos, and protect them from scary things like bad guys and accidents.  The truth is, sometimes the most dangerous things children face is us. Our own tempers, anger and reactivity.  Sometimes we are leaking a toxic drip of reactions that can be really damaging to their psyche, their sense of self, and certainly our relationship with them.  I know that’s true for me.I feel very lucky I live in a safe neighborhood, where modern medicine and modern plumbing  have done away with many dangers so my children don’t have to face them. But when I lose it with my children, I know that’s really toxic for them.  My ego wants to tell me: “That’s what parenting is. They deserved it! I have every right to my feelings, and to be angry.” My ego wants to make excuses for my poor behavior.  Maybe you’ve experienced this too, when we yell, shame, blame, make threats, or call them names we excuse ourselves. 

Adult tantrums are ineffective, and frankly inexcusable. OK we’re all human, don’t get me wrong! I have adult tantrums from time to time and you can have yours,  but let’s not make excuses for them.

Let me tell you a little story.

One day I was driving along in my car and was having a really hard day. My boss had said something I was frustrated about that day, I was in a fight with a family member, and I was on very little sleep. And I’m driving along and I was distracted, upset, and I actually merged lanes without indicating and I swerved right in front of a huge truck. I ALMOST crashed into him. It was scary and dangerous. He slammed on the brakes and got so angry and triggered that he wanted to get back at me, he wanted to punish me. Have you ever been in that situation on the road where you wanted to see the other driver’s face or give them the middle finger? He was trying to overtake me and cut me off too. He was endangering both of us. I wasn’t proud, but his response was to stoop to my level and endanger us both.

We need to be the adult in the driver seat so that when emotions get out of hand. The response of raging back at our children and shaming them, actually just perpetuates the cycle and creates emotional danger and toxicity in a sense for us all. When we unleash our anger on our kids we’re like a big truck next to a small car.  It’s truly dangerous, but it’s also so misguided. Does it help them to recover from their poor and behave better? Does it teach them to make better choices?

No. It doesn’t create the type of environment that we want at home.

It actually cycles those tantruming behaviors. Just like the driver who swerved back and yelled at me, he wasn’t saying “Whoah, you need some space right now, I’m going to hold back.” When we tantrum, yell, lose it, shame, throw things, threaten – we’re behaving in unacceptable ways. Everybody does that from time to time, but the question is  how do we frame it up? Do we listen to the ego, that says it’s OK and our children deserved it? Or do we acknowledge that it wasn’t OK, apologize for our behaviors, and take real concrete efforts to make changes in the future so that we don’t repeat that on auto drive?

As parents, we work so hard to keep our kids protected in this world, and feeling comfortable and happy. Wouldn’t it be great to start by putting some of that  worrisome energy into changing our own behavior, and into learning how to manage our own “road rage.” 

STEP 1 is identifying that we have a problem with anger. We must admit that it’s hard to stay calm in the face of feeling triggered by our kids.

↓↓↓↓↓  Tell me in the comments   ↓↓↓↓

Have you been in a situation where you were not proud of you’re behavior? Like getting angry at the cashier in the supermarket? Yelling in the car at the other drivers? How would you want the people closest to you to treat  you in that moment? How would you want them to help calm down your nervous system?

It’s probably not by yelling back, shaming or threatening you. That’s what we do as parents though, isn’t it? We come down like a ton of bricks, trying to shut it down, trying to get back at them while thinking “You won’t treat me that way!” “I won’t raise a spoiled brat!” “How dare he?” All the fears come to our mind. We’re clearly not thinking with the pre-frontal cortex here, because then we would realize the child is having a hard time, and that in fact our response is ineffective. Their behavior is simply communication.

That’s what the term “acting out” means.  Someone is acting out a feeling. I’ll bet no one’s kid is going to come up to them and say, “Hey mum, I’m having a really hard day. I didn’t sleep enough, and someone was being mean to me at school, and I’ve had too much sugar and not enough leafy greens today. Would you mind going a little easy on me today?”

Not quite how it works, is it?  Instead, they’re rude, they roll their eyes, or throw something instead of placing it gently. Moreover, when we’re not #adulting in these situations, that’s an indication that we’re having a hard time regulating ourselves.  Our role as adults though is to overcome and rise above as much as possible. In those times that we don’t, extend ourselves compassion and apologize. In order to lead, anyone, we need to have empathy for them. To understand where they’ve been, and we also need to have some authority. This comes from overcoming something they have overcome, from walking a mile in their shoes. It’s because we have the skills they are working master.

If we want to raise kids who can regulate themselves,  who make good choices, and can calm themselves down when they’re overly riled up, we’re going to have to do the hard task of learning how to master those skills ourselves.  Here are  4 Steps to Calm Down when You’re Feeling Triggered7 Ways to Deal With Parenting When You’re Triggered 


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13 Replies to “Adult Tantrums: Is Yelling at Our Kids Effective?”

  1. Thank you for this video, Avital. Some days are definitely harder than others and I can be a quite explosive person myself.
    At the weekend, I felt awful, I had a headache that lasted all day, I was sore and just not myself and I could not deal with my daughter’s emotions at all. I tried, I really did, but at one point, when she started moaning again because I had given her the “wrong” cup to drink out of, I just stood there and screamed from the top of my lungs. I felt like it was the only way to release the pressure. I looked at my daughter and her face changed instantly, she was about to start crying, she looked confused and scared and I felt so bad. I picked her up, we held each other and we both cried for a bit.
    It’s so hard sometimes to manage our emotions and I have a long way to go and am always trying to better myself. How can I expect my 2 year old to be able to do something, that I at 30 haven’t managed to do?
    Thanks for all you do, it really does make a difference to so many families!

    1. I can totally relate Fran! I’ve let out a scream on more occasions then I care to admit. But exactly – we need to master these skills so we can help our little ones do the same. You’re doing great, just the awareness is half the battle! <3

  2. Thank you so much for this video!
    I really like to see your steps how to calm down and react in a peaceful way.
    Sometimes I feel that my kids don’t hear me if I want a good behaviour in the supermarket or during a appointment. I need yelling because this is the only way to stop any bad behaviour. They are quite and staring at me, but I really feel bad and sorry in such moments. I need your ideas.
    Thanks a lot

    1. I know exactly what you means Stefanie! I have some videos coming up on “listening” but one KEY factor is actually getting their attention in the first place. Not just barking orders from afar (guilty!) but instead coming close, low, quiet and saying – please can you look at my eyes, I have something I need you to know. And only communicating when we ACTUALLY have their attention 😉 easier said than done, I know…

  3. Wonderful video was always!! I wanted to add a point down here. You mentioned how our ego tells us we are justified in our actions and that our children “deserved it,” when we lash out in anger at them. This is absolutely 100% true and I wanted to point out to be careful with who you share your vulnerability with when shifting to a more conscious form of parenting because a lot of people (especially mothers of children of any age) are stuck in their own egos. When I first started parenting in a more intuitive, peaceful, and less mainstream way I would naturally feel guilt for my old habits and it was hard to process them with these people bc they would tell me I shouldn’t feel guilt for being a normal parent. These comments felt very invalidating at the time, like I was being overly-sensitive but I realize now that it was just because they were speaking from ego. I’ve learned not to share certain things with people who don’t “speak the same language” so to speak.

  4. Hi Avital

    Your words came at the right moment. We’ve been through a hard time lately in which me and my partner lost each other in parenting our 2 lovely daughters. After a major breakdown I had last summer we are trying in a positive way to have more respect, trust and patience towards each others approach with the kids. And things are way better. However, our mornings are still/again very heavy. Both my partner and oldest daughter can suffer a lot from morning grumpiness. (of course specially when we had a rough night, with lots of waking up). like this morning. And much more than before I can see and feel that their grumpiness is also attacking my feelings too. It is like I cannot bring up any patience to them anymore (cause before this was already so so so hard and now my ‘morning’ patience cup is almost empty). I can see myself giving all the patience I have left to my daughter and starting to yell at my partner. As he is having an adult tantrum ’cause of her’, he triggers me into a tantrum too. Oh boy, I can see the things escalating and it is like I cannot stop them. I yell he has to leave cause he only makes things worse. I yell: do you still don’t get it, this does NOT help at all. I yell: I m sick of your morning grumpiness. I yell: You are not the only one who had a bad night. He yells: She has to know this behavior is not possible. you are prolonging her behavior by not shutting her down. you are raising a child that is gonna be like this (forever). And again I feel like sliding down the ladder we try so hard to climb, back to how we were before. when he left, I really try hard to be calm and patience with the girls, but I know and they do too, it is a very thin line. I feel myself sliding into behavior I don’t agree with. And I know I really try my best at that moment. But at one point I m lost and about starting to cry myself. I feel so alone in that moment and totally not proud of how im acting. So I m really looking forward to your tips how to handle this, cause I m so afraid to lose each other again. I do not want to go that road again. hope I can switch things easily…. x

    1. Hola

      Te recomiendo el video de Avital sobre 10 tips selfcare. Antes de que los demás estén bien, nosotros debemos estarlo, suerte. Parenting is hard

    2. Nike I’m sending so much love and support! Choosing patience and mustering up some calm energy and being what I call an “Energy Boss” is HARD WORK but you are DOING IT!!! Are you in Present Play? So much excellent ways to create this calmer energy in there. <3

  5. I’ve seen enough of your videos to know yelling isn’t the right thing to do, but I’ve resorted to that in the last couple of months. My daughter’s dad has used time out and yelling at my daughter in her early toddler months and now she listens to him and does what he says. I see she behaves well with him and when I try to talk to her and help her communicate, and she doesn’t listen, my boyfriend tells me to use his tactics (“show them who the adult is aka yelling) and I end up doing it because I feel like that’s the way she’ll listen but it never works. It breaks my heart seeing her little face but i just get frustrated that she doesn’t listen to me but listens to her loud dad. I’m trying to be better but not sure how to

    1. Hola!

      Parece que me estás hablando a mi, justo después de mi rabieta del día. Pensé en todo lo que nos has enseñado y te agradezco profundamente que tomes el tiempo para hablarnos así. Me estás ayudando muchísimo a reaccionar mejorar y guardar la calma. Mis vecinos te lo agradecen también.

    2. Hola, con todo respeto, las tácticas de gritar, no sólo dañan a los niños, también nuestra autoimagen como adultos, nosotros tardamos en aprender, dale tiempo a corregir la actitud mientras todos cambian la suya. Los videos de TPJ son muy buenos, espero encuentres uno que te ayude tanto como necesites

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