What to do when your kid is losing it

(This post includes a printable fridge sheet.)

Before I got help for losing my temper, I used to lose my temper whenever my kid would lose it. (Hot tempers tend to run in families.)

My kid would get upset about something and I would either argue with them or try to fix it. Usually, my efforts to stop their upset didn’t work, and it ended with me yelling at them.

Yelling sometimes scared them into their room or quieted them, but that’s not how I wanted to raise my kids, controlled by fear. A child who is raised controlled by fear learns to be controlled by fear in general as an adult. They also become an adult who controls others through fear.

I was raised by my dad who controlled the house through fear. It made me a fearful adult with irrational beliefs that I would “get in trouble” for some things. It also made me into a wife and parent who thought it was my job to control others through fear.

I was ready to end the cycle. I didn’t want to pass this down to my kids and grandkids.

So I got help and figured out healthy things to do when my kids lose it. I’m going to share those things with you:

> Make sure your child is safe and that they aren’t hurting themselves or others. For a small child trying to hurt you, you can hold up a pillow to block them from hurting you. Then look down (because eye contact can feel threatening), and gently say, “You’re safe. This is a safe place.”

> Imagine your child is on a train. Their little train is all over the place, up and down, side to side, fast and slow. Your goal is to stay off their train. You’re on your own large, steady train. You can observe their train ride from a distance, but you stay off their train. You are on a calm adult train ride. And you can’t really stop their train. You can be supportive during their ride, but they’ll get off when they’re ready.

> When a child is losing it, they’re stressed out. A stressed-out person has a hard time with rational conversation, so don’t say too many words. Here are some things you can say that might help:

  1. Notice what their body is doing. Say it out loud: “Your legs are stiff. Your jaw is tight. You’re stomping your feet. Your hands are in a tight ball.” etc.
  2. Make a guess at their feelings. Chose at least three feelings words. Say, “You’re feeling ________ because ________.” Like, “You’re feeling angry, sad and disappointed because we aren’t going to the store.”

NOTE: Avoid giving consequences for losing it. Instead, reassure your child: “I love you always, no matter what.” While losing it (and afterward), everyone can use some love.

Acknowledging your kid’s feelings does not mean you agree with them. Whatever is going on is important to them — that’s the train they are on. And by noticing their train, by talking about their body actions and their feelings, you are teaching them something called “emotional intelligence.”

Emotional intelligence is the ability to give names to the feelings we’re having while maintaining composure. Paying attention to how our body feels give us clues to our feelings (such as feeling a lump in your throat when you’re sad). Emotional intelligence helps us feel our feelings (instead of stuff them down) and it gets us back into rational thinking so then we can solve problems with more ease.

Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) said his goal was to make feelings “mentionable and manageable.” That’s what emotional intelligence does. So when we have intense feelings like anger, fear, and sadness we can feel them without hurting ourselves or others.

One of the joys of emotional intelligence is that you also can learn to recognize good feelings. When your child’s happy or proud, notice what their body’s doing and name their feelings too: “You’re smiling and jumping around. You feel happy, excited and proud.”

These simple techniques also work for adults. A friend of mine encountered an angry, upset adult the other day. She didn’t get on their train and argue with them. She said, “You’re feeling angry,” and the adult calmed down.

I’ve noticed that practicing emotional intelligence around the house has expanded my kids’ vocabulary around feelings. It’s fun to hear them use the words. If you’d like to give it a try, I created this Fridge Sheet for you. Print it and stick it on the fridge.

When you put the Fridge Sheet up, talk about your goals with the kids. When they’re calm, you all can brainstorm about how the body feels when different feelings are happening. Like, your heart feels heavy when you’re sad. Your shoulders feel tight when you’re stressed. Your stomach feels upset when you’re nervous.

It’s normal to have feelings (all humans have them), and your family is working on noticing them and feeling them in healthy ways.

The Fridge Sheet has awesome tips, like if you feel overwhelmed, it gives you a clue that “overwhelm” means you have a combination of feelings. (Hint: the fridge sheet is helpful for moms who lose their temper too.) <3

For more great tips, subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

The Button

Everyone has a “button” that’s pressed when something is getting on our nerves or when we’re at the end of our rope.

If you’re a yeller and you’re trying to stop yelling, sometimes you can catch yourself before you yell. When that happens, it’s a good time to notice your button. It’s something you can stop and think about for a moment. It helps you calm down.

Here’s what that moment can look like.

I’m about to yell. My button’s being pushed. Where do I feel the button? What does it feel like?

Simply taking that moment to feel what’s going on in your body can help you get on another path, to make a choice that does not involve yelling.

People feel the button differently, but there are some patterns I’ve noticed. Here are some examples:

Some people feel like they have been punched in the stomach, so their back is hunched. They feel tense in their neck, jaw and chest, like it’s hard to breathe. Sometimes they feel tense in their butt too. Some people also feel heat, like steam is coming out of their ears.

The important thing to remember in the moment is that you’re responsible for your own button. It’s not someone else’s job to un-press your button. And whoever is pushing your button isn’t doing it on purpose — you’ve probably had that button for a long time.

So now you’re standing there noticing your button. What’s next? You could say it out loud:

“My chest feels heavy like it’s hard to breathe, and my jaw is tense.”

Then take a break, stand up straight, take some deep breaths and loosen your jaw. Hopefully, this time, you don’t yell.

Congratulations. You’re one step closer to noticing and owning your buttons and being the person you want to be.

What does it feel like when someone pushes your buttons?

I’m available to speak with your group. Contact me.

“Daddy do.”

There’s a lot of pressure in a family when you have kids.

There’s so much to do. All. The. Time.

I have my own to-do lists in my head.

And I used to have to-do lists for the kids and my husband too.

Some of us have a “honey-do” list hanging on the fridge. It’s a list of chores a wife makes for her husband. The minute one chore is crossed off, there’s usually three more to take its place.

And then there’s the way Daddy does things.

Daddy does things differently than Mommy.

Daddy doesn’t do the dishes the same way. Or put the kids to bed with the same routine, or talk to the kids the same way Mommy does.

Moms and kids take on the task of teaching Daddy how to do things the “right way,” the way Mommy does it.

But what is the “right way?” …

Think about your husband for a moment. The Dear One, the hubby, the hubs, Pookie.

Is he a good man?

If he is a good man, why are we putting so much pressure on him to be different?

Does he really have to do things the way Mommy does?

Instead of seeing all the things he “should” be doing, what if we see the things he is actually doing?

And what would happen if we learned to appreciate him, just the way he is?

Would the dishes get done? How would the kids behave? If Daddy just does what he does, would everything fall apart?


As a mom, I kept it all together for a long time. I did it by running everyone’s to-do lists, but it got to the point where that didn’t work anymore — it wasn’t good for me. It was too much pressure.

I needed a change. So I experimented with a simple technique I call “Daddy do.”

If you’d like to give it a try, here’s how:

Put the words “Daddy do” on a post-it note on your fridge as a reminder.

Every time you see Daddy doing something different and you get the urge to say, “Honey you should —,” try to catch yourself. Stop, and tell yourself, “Daddy do.”

As in, “Daddy does what he does.” And that’s ok. He’s a good man. You married a good man.

“Daddy do” has become a permanent part of our family’s life. Today sometimes it’s “Mommy do,” or “Brother do,” or “Grandma do.”

As in, we all have our own ways of doing things. And that’s ok.

Now, if whatever we’re doing is hurtful, that’s not ok, but this is for alllllll the other times.

So here’s your challenge (it may make your heart skip a beat): if there’s a “honey-do” list on the fridge, go to the list and toss it. This is your leap of faith. See what happens.

One step at a time, let some pressure off your honey and let him do things his way.

You might re-discover that amazing man you married, and you and the kids can learn to love and appreciate him for his ways.

And… when you’re no longer running the hubby’s “to-do,” you can take one more “to-do” off your list. <3

Subscribe to my newsletter: click here.

Angry does not have to mean upset.

My clients usually say they are angry when they are upset. Being angry and upset usually includes yelling, and maybe spanking a child or throwing something. Sometimes they drive away or lock themselves in a room for awhile.

But angry does not have to mean upset.

The feeling of anger has a TON of energy behind it: you can use it to be hurtful.

Or, you can use that energy to be helpful.

I used to be angry and upset that I was raised in a family where anger was always hurtful. I didn’t even know there was a different way to express it.

I’m still angry about that, but I’m not upset anymore.

I use all of that energy to be helpful.

It’s fuel for me in my business…

Anger doesn’t go away, but how you experience it can change.

I’ve seen it in my clients. One day, one step at a time, they learn how to feel their anger and use it to help. First, they help themselves, and then they help others.

Wanna know how to do that? By reading this post, you have begun.

Subscribe to my newsletter here.

A love letter to anger

There are some people I coach who are upset about how they’ve been. They might feel sad or ashamed of their anger and the times they’ve been hurtful towards others.

And there is also a part of them that is angry about their anger. They wrestle and fight with themselves, working so hard to stop the anger from bubbling up.

But the fighting isn’t helping. The anger keeps winning. It keeps coming back.

So I got this idea: Let’s try something different. Let’s try writing a love letter to anger. Here goes.

Dear Anger,
You made me strong.
You were there for me when I needed you.
You got me through some really tough times. Seriously.
Thank you for being a friend.
I will never forget you.
And now, dear Anger, I’m ready to let you go.
It’s time to say goodbye.
I’m learning how to be strong in different ways.
I would not have gotten this far without you.
In some ways, you have been a blessing to me.
As you go (and when I see you again), here is what I want to say:
I love you. Thank you. You’re showing me how to heal.

Love and kisses,
Your biggest fan,

What would your love letter to anger say?

(Note: This is about hurtful anger. There are helpful kinds of anger, but that is a story for another day…)

Contact me to speak with your group.

How to stop losing your temper: A story

I introduced myself to a group of entrepreneurs this week. I said, “Hi. I’m a life coach. I help moms who lose their temper. I used to lose my temper and I got help. Now I help others.”

One woman in the meeting blushed and bit her lips. She sat up straighter and cleared her throat.

This is common. I’ve learned to look for it.

I talked to her later. She said, “I felt exposed because I do that too.”

She had never thought about getting help for it.

In fact, she had not put a word to it yet.

This is common too.

The families I work with rarely (or never) talk about those times when mom gets upset. They don’t even have a word for it.

If you want to stop losing your temper, here is the first step: put a name to it. Talk about it.

Tell a friend, tell your family: “Sometimes I get upset and yell and I want to learn how to stop doing that.”

In my house, we called it “the anger bug,” and we said we wanted to work on squishing it (my kids were young). We talked about how I got the bug from my dad, and he got it from his dad.

And we didn’t want to live with the anger bug anymore.

What will you call yours? …

Are you ready to stop yelling? Buy my book

Break free from the “shoulds”

Should you read this? Do you have a lot of “shoulds” rolling around in your head? If the answer is “yes,” I wrote this article for you.

I give talks about high-pressure words and low-pressure conversation. Whenever I ask the crowd for examples of high-pressure words, should is always one of the first named.

Should is a high-pressure word.

Many of us are plagued with it. It’s an epidemic. There was a time in my life when I had so many shoulds in my brain that if they were represented as polkadots on my body, I would have been walking around with something we might call “should-itis.”

The shoulds came in three forms:

1. Things I thought I should be doing differently. Like this:

I should work out more and eat healthier.
I should be a better mom and have a cleaner house.
I should take care of my aging parents more.
In the past, I should have done that thing differently.
In the future, I should definitely do that thing.

2. Things I thought others should be doing differently. Like this:

My kids should respect me more.
My husband should be a better dad and a better husband.
My neighbor shouldn’t do that thing they do.
My parents shouldn’t have done that thing they did in the past.
In the future, my parents should definitely do that thing.
That guy on the news should be doing something different too.

3. Things I thought others thought I should be doing differently. Like this:

My work-out teacher thinks I should go to class more often. They also think I should try harder.
My friend thinks I should try the new diet she likes.
My parents think I should be doing more for them.
My kids think I should buy them that trendy thing.
God thinks I should be a better person, and go to church more.

Wow. In writing this, I realize this is just the tip of the iceberg. If my shoulds were polkadots, I would have had enough to infect a whole army with should-itis.

The shoulds pushed me around and put a ton of pressure in my life. They blinded me from the life I was actually living. I was so busy focusing on the shoulds I had trouble focusing on what was right in front of me.

And then, one by one, I learned to let go. First, one or two. Then a few more. I noticed the shoulds and swatted them down, like swatting mosquitoes. It took practice at first, but now I’m pretty good at it, and there have even been a few moments where avalanches of shoulds went tumbling out of my life. And you know what I’ve found?

Freedom. Joy. I can focus on the life I have.

If you’ve read this far, maybe you’ve found your freedom. Or maybe you’re looking for it.

Do you find yourself wondering: What would life be like without all the shoulds?

Here’s an idea to help you get started:

Get a piece of paper and a pencil.

  1. Write “The Shoulds” at the top.
  2. Make a list of your current shoulds.
  3. For one week, when you notice a should, add that to your list. Notice the three kinds of shoulds — when you think you should be doing something differently, when you think others should be doing something different and when you think others think you should be doing something different.
  4. At the end of the week, look at your list. Cross off the things that aren’t have-tos. And really think deeply about the ones you think are have-tos. Circle them. Sleep on it. Look at your list again. Are the have-tos really have-tos? If they are, they might be important. Pay attention to them. Change those “shoulds” to “I will…”

So, who are you under there under all of that should-itis? Let’s clear it up and see what happens — with less pressure, you might gain a whole new perspective.

What is one should you are ready to be free from? 

Subscribe to my newsletter here.

How to talk with your kids about the “bad guys”

When I became a mom, I gained a whole new perspective on classic western fairy tales.

Because when I read to my children, I think about how a story is forming their story, how it’s forming and informing their lives.

And do I really want to read my little girl stories about ugly old witches that want to kill young women just because the young women are beautiful? Um… No.

What does that story tell about old women? And young women? And what does it say about relationships between women? OMG. That is not what I want for me and my little girl.

I want her to be valued for her heart and mind, not just for her external beauty. And when I’m an old woman, I want to be wise with my own beautiful, well-earned wrinkles. And I want to teach my daughter (and my son too) that women love and support each other.

And in that story (Snow White), the men have one of two jobs: that of killer or provider. The hunter’s job is to hunt down Snow White and kill her. The prince’s job is to rescue and support Snow White. OMG. That is not what I want for my husband and my little boy.

I want my son to be valued for his heart and mind, not just for his ability to fight or provide. And when my husband is an old man, I want him to be wise with his own beautiful, well-earned wrinkles. And I want to teach my son (and my daughter too) that men love and support each other,

and that men and women love and support each other too.

So how can I read a story about the “bad guys” while maintaining this story of love I want to teach my children? What do I say about the Wicked Witch or Darth Vader or Voldemort when my kids look at me and ask, “Why do they hurt people mama?”

Here’s what I say: “Everyone is doing the best they can.” Let me show you what I mean.

We used to call these stories about the good guys and the bad guys battles of “good vs. evil.” We used to say the bad guys are “evil.”

I have a different perspective, though. The perception of someone as “evil” is just a way that we give ourselves permission to hate and hurt others.

So, how do we love the bad guy?

By seeing the pain.

When I see stories of bad guys, I see ripples of pain.

> Darth Vader is in pain — you learn about his journey from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader in the first three movies. He’s doing the best he can with the awareness he has, and he wears a mask to cover his face, to cover his pain. Upon his death, when the mask comes off, he tells his son Luke that Luke was right about him, that there was some good left in him after all.

> And have you seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi? In my opinion, the story was written in such a way that you actually hope that it is the last of the Jedi, because then maybe the fighting would stop. The movie blurs the lines between good and evil, and you wonder if rooting for Luke, Leia and Han was the right thing to do all along. The whole movie is pain-full.

> Voldemort (He Who Shall Not Be Named) from the Harry Potter series is in pain. You only get glimpses of it (it’s a little more expanded in the books), but he had a terrible childhood. Voldemort can’t do any better — he’s doing the best he can, and maybe his pain is made worse because they don’t even say his name — they don’t see his pain — they don’t even recognize him as a person.

> There’s a book and a musical called Wicked about how Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, became the Wicked Witch. How? You might have guessed — it’s a story of pain that began before birth.

> I don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Today I want to yell at my kids.” But sometimes, I end up yelling at my kids. Not because I’m evil, and not because I’m a bad guy. When I yell at my kids, it’s a sign of pain, of hurt. Sometimes, there’s hurt happening in the present moment, but often, hurt from the past (from my own childhood) is creeping back into the present. And moms who lose their temper agree — we are in pain. Sometimes the pain is so painful we keep our hot temper a secret, to hide it from the world and in some ways, we even try to hide it from ourselves.

Here’s one final illustration I want to share with you about the “good guys vs bad guys” story. It’s about the events that happened on September 11, 2001. In the United States, there’s a holiday named in remembrance of that day — it’s called Patriot Day.

When my 6-year-old kids came home on September 11, 2017, they told me, “Mama, today we learned about Patriot Day.” So I asked,

“What did you learn about Patriot Day, sweethearts?” (I had not told them that story yet.)

My son said, “We learned that the bad guys flew airplanes into buildings and a lot of people died.”

My daughter asked, “Why did they do that mama?”

I told her, “They thought they were the good guys and we were the bad guys.”

My daughter thought for a moment and asked, “How did they come to think we were the bad guys?”

I told her, “Well, we’ve hurt them, and those are the stories they tell about us.”

So here’s my question: Where does it end? When does it end? How can we be true Patriots for our country and for our families?

Here’s my answer: the story about evil bad guys ends on my couch each evening with my children when I read them a fairy tale. It ends when they fight and hurt each other and instead of punishing them, I teach them how to love. It ends when they tell a story about a kid in school that got in trouble and I say, “Maybe he was having a rough day.” It ends when I’m driving on the road and I have compassion for someone who cuts me off. It ends when I apologize for yelling at my kids and I say, “I’m sorry. I love you. I’m doing the best I can, and I will try to do better.”

By calling the problem “pain” instead of “evil,” there’s opportunity for healing. “He Who Shall Not Be Named” has a name, and we need to say it, to see it, to see that he’s not evil, but that he’s a person in pain. Then it becomes a lot harder to hurt him. It becomes a lot harder for us all to hurt each other.

Now, does that mean it’s ok for the “bad guy” to hurt others? No. Hurting others is not ok, but learning how not to hurt begins with us.

If there is such a thing as evil in the world, it’s a tendency we all have to sometimes forget that people are people, with their own stories and histories, their own pain, dreams and desires.

I’m not the bad guy and neither are you.

When I think about it, it’s truly awesome (AWE-some) the power we have as parents. That’s why I like working with moms. In little moments every day, we have the power to change a story and maybe, just maybe, change the world.

Has that ever happened — have your kids asked you about the “bad guys?” What did you say?

Hire me to be your coach. Email me: jeanette@thelowpressurelife.com