5 Ways to Keep Your Cool With Frustrating Kids

Although our kids can bring us to our breaking point, they don't have to send us overboard. Mighty Mommy shares 5 ways to keep your temper in check, no matter how much your kids annoy you.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #521

No one said parenting was going to be easy, but somehow many of us never realized how true that would be.

Kelly, a frazzled mom of a 5-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, emailed me with this scenario: “Most of my days start off with a struggle because one of my kids gets up at the crack of dawn and the other one won’t get out of bed unless I practically pull her out. By the time the school bus comes, I’ve yelled a handful of times because they dawdle and take forever to get dressed. At night I’m super stressed after working at a job I’m not crazy about and by the time the weekend comes, I’m tired, cranky, and lose my patience at the drop of a hat. I know it isn’t fair to my kids, but I’m not sure how to catch myself before I blow my stack each time. Help!”

How many of us can relate to Kelly’s daily grind? I know I've had plenty of days like that, especially when my eight kids were younger and so needy. I felt like a shepherd herding a bunch of cattle out the door each morning. And that hour right before dinner used to make me want to hide in my bedroom until morning.

Don't worry, Kelly, all is not lost. Although our kids can bring us to our breaking point, they don't have to send us overboard. Mighty Mommy shares 5 ways to keep your temper in check, no matter how much your kids annoy you.

5 Ways to Keep Your Cool With Kids 

  1. Learn Your Triggers and Patterns
  2. Giver Yourself Permission to Be Quiet
  3. Breathe
  4. Don’t Be Afraid to Apologize
  5. Reward Yourself for Good Behavior

Here’s a closer look at each one:

Learn Your Triggers and Patterns

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my 25 years of parenting is that it may not be possible to change how a child is acting, but how I choose to respond to the behavior is in my control. I know, that's easier said than done, especially when you’re exhausted from a crappy day at work and the last thing you want to do is argue with your kindergartner to stop using the kitchen island as the racetrack for his matchbox cars while you scramble to throw something palatable together for dinner.

The first step in keeping yourself calm and together is to anticipate what usually sets you off.  Oftentimes, there is a pattern of behavior that makes us churn and feels like nails on a chalkboard (as in the case of Kelly and her family’s frustrating school mornings).

Because Kelly knows that getting ready for school is one of the times her kids push her buttons, she can program her mindset to be prepared for their actions so that she doesn’t get so agitated. I had a similar situation when my kids were younger, so one day, even before I got out of bed, I gave myself a pep talk. I reminded myself that mornings will be rough and that I shouldn't be surprised by them each day. I urged myself not to give into frustration and carry on with our morning routine as matter-of-factly as I could. These pep talks became a daily habit and I found that when I wired myself not to react emotionally, I tolerated the kids a lot better.

In addition, if you recognize that the pattern of you losing your cool occurs every day, around the same time, then you should reevaluate your school morning routine. Get organized the night before to save yourself and your kids the harried frenzy of rushing to get ready. I've found that making lunches and laying out school clothes the night before saves a lot of trouble the next day.

Added bonus: When your kids don’t get a reaction from you, they eventually learn not to engage in the bad behavior.

 See Also: How Routines Will Simplify Your Life

Give Yourself Permission to Be Quiet

With kids come all kinds of new experiences, unexpected surprises, laughter, tears, oh—and noise! If you’re a person who craves personal space and quiet, this could definitely be a contributing factor to why you're losing your temper with your children. Because we lead such fast-paced, non-stop lives, most parents continue to burn the candle at both ends until there is nothing left but a hot, melted mess! And that's when you find yourself yelling at your 8-year-old because he forgot to close the refrigerator for the thousandth time.

We may not have the luxury of slipping away for a few hours of peace during the week, but we can surely find a few stolen moments to simply sit quietly with our own thoughts and just “be.”

Give yourself the gift of quiet on a regular basis. Simply tell your kids that you need five minutes alone and then tune them out as if they don't exist. These small snippets of time in your own chill-zone will compensate for the crazy, annoying situations.  

Let your kids see you enjoying some alone time. You’ll be setting a great example of how important it is to stay grounded and peaceful even in times of chaos.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.