Mom Summit and Moms Conference Keynote Speaker | Women’s Organization and Diversity Day Speaker | Inspirational Mom

Mental Health

Are You An Angry Mom? Three Steps To Release Mom Rage

Angry Mom

Eye color, height, even how quickly our blood clots after we get cut are or how fast we metabolize alcohol after a glass of wine are all inherited from our parents. Children also grow up observing the behavior of the adults around them and learn how to react in emotionally charged situations. 

I got my dad’s hazel eyes and his explosive anger, which made me the angry mom I never wanted to be.

Anger is a powerful, natural emotion. During the 1970s, psychologist Paul Eckman named anger as one of the 6 most basic human emotions along with happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, and surprise. Anger even had a seat at the table inside Riley’s brain in the Pixar film, Inside Out.

In and of itself, anger isn’t bad. It’s how we express anger that can be detrimental to our own health and wellbeing and those of the people we love, especially our children. 

Biologically, when triggered, anger causes a cascade of hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline to be released. Our blood pressure goes up and our heart rate accelerates. This is our nervous system reacting to the external trigger and, fearing for our survival, going into reaction mode. Our primal instincts kick in and our brains want us to react with either fight, flight, or freeze.

(Researchers now talk about other reaction responses, such as appease and strike but, for the purposes of this post, I’m just going to KISS – keep it short and simple).

I learned to fight. 

You see, I grew up in a house with a dad who grew up in a house with a mom who lashed out with physical and verbal abuse when she felt fear, frustration, anger. 

And, my grandmother was only emulating what she learned from her mother, being an angry mom. 

My great-grandmother developed her ability to fight as a survival mechanism. It allowed her to endure the harsh conditions in her home country at the turn of the 20th century and into World War 1. It compelled her to leave Europe and cross an ocean for a better life, only to be faced with having to navigate the difficulties of immigrant life in the tenements of NYC during the Depression. She was “a fighter.”

And I became a fighter too. And it only got more pronounced as I got older, got married, and became a mom.

The more you respond to an external trigger by either fighting, flighting, or freezing, the easier it becomes to respond that way next time. Until you don’t even think about how you’re responding. The earlier you learn these patterns, the harder they can be to break.

And, being a mom is HARD! 

It feels like you’re always on duty, always living in reactive mode. If you’re ready to fight when:

  • Telling a toddler they can’t have another cookie. 
  • Navigating the living room without stepping on a Lego creation. 
  • Trying to get your teen to step away from the computer and set the table for dinner. 
  • Living through a pandemic with constantly changing daily routines and worrying about your family’s physical and mental health.

And, our kids aren’t the only ones that we have to react to. Triggers get set off by other demands on our time from all the balls we juggle each day. 

Work, volunteering, marriage, chores. An almost constant stream of incoming emails and app notifications. 

Parenting is a rollercoaster and each time an uncomfortable emotion would come up – frustration, exhaustion, overwhelm, anxiety, fear – my trigger would get released and my nervous system would kick into fight mode. 

And, rarely did I feel good after yelling or being an angry mom. 

Instead, yelling often led to other uncomfortable feelings: guilt, shame, sadness, lack of control, feeling like a victim. It kept me in reactive mode, ready to fight again at the drop of a hat. 

It was a vicious cycle. 

And then, one day, I heard myself yelling at my children and I totally dissociated from my body. It was like I just stepped out and watched as this tired, frustrated, hurting woman screamed her head off. 

I don’t remember why I was yelling at them but I remember their young faces. Fear, confusion, hurt. I saw the tears start to well up in my younger son’s eyes as he shrunk away from me. My older one snapped to attention like a soldier. He put his arm on his brother’s shoulders. 

A scene from one of our favorite cartoons, The Adventures of Frog & Toad by Arnold Lobel popped into my consciousness. In the story, The Garden, Toad is trying to grow a garden but his seeds won’t grow. He gets frustrated and then angry. 

​​“My seeds will not grow,” said Toad

“You are shouting too much,” said Frog. “These poor seeds are afraid to grow.”

And this voice inside said, “your kids are the seeds.”  

I always prided myself on being empathic and capable of holding space for everyone else’s emotions but here I was completely out of control of my own. Instead of being the nurturing mother, I was continuing generational patterns as an angry mom. As a yoga teacher, I had the tools to regulate my emotions. I just wasn’t practicing what I preach. 

It was time to break the cycle.

Since then, I’ve worked with over a hundred clients in my practice as a coach, yoga teacher, and genetic counselor. And I know that my story is a familiar one. 

I also know that it is entirely possible to, not only break the cycle but to begin to heal the wounds in both the parent and the child that anger can instill. 

Healing Anger Starts with Forgiveness

It’s important to take responsibility for the hurt you have caused others and yourself. Ask for forgiveness in a genuine way and commit to doing the work to do better and be better.

A really powerful, yet simple tool for forgiveness that has helped in my personal and client work has been the Hawaiian prayer, Ho’oponopono.

Expressing Anger in Healthy Ways

It’s much easier to express anger in healthy ways when you’re not being led by a triggered nervous system. Here are my two favorite tools for calming the angry mom inside and returning to a calmer state.

  • LION’S BREATH

Lion’s breath is a great go-to practice for those moments when you need a quick release. It relieves tension and stress throughout the body but especially in the face and neck. It can also support toning the throat, reducing wrinkles, and improving voice quality. 

To do it, start by sitting on your knees with your hands on your thighs. Inhale deeply. Exhale with a loud, deep sound as you rise, lift your body up, raise your arms, spread your fingers, and push out your tongue as far as you can. 

This is a great exercise to do with your little lion cubs to help them release anger too. 

  • STOP, DROP, and ROLL.

This is an activity you can practice when you notice any difficult emotion come up – anger, sadness, loneliness, etc.

Give yourself permission to STOP trying to push through it. Allow yourself to DROP into your body and notice any sensations you’re feeling. Give yourself grace and compassion to witness the physical feelings as they move through your body. Observe how the emotions ROLL through you as your brain starts to release other chemicals and hormones to bring you back to a resting state.

Remember to breathe during the practice.

Once you are out of fight, flight, or freeze, you can communicate more calmly about what caused you to be angry. 

A simple way of expressing your emotions is with a phrase like this one:

When you did ____________________________, it made me feel ______________________. Next time, I’d really like it if you _______________________________.

You can offer a solution or ask the other person to brainstorm solutions with you (kids love to be included in problem-solving!)

It’s not always easy. And, since anger is a normal, healthy emotion, you will feel it again. Old yelling habits may reprise. When this happens, trust that you have the tools to acknowledge it and continue the work to learn to express your anger in healthier ways. 

And know that sometimes being an angry mom comes with the job—you’re not alone.

If you’re ready to break these cycles and are looking for a safe and supportive container, I can help. Join me for a free 30-minute call and let’s chat.

I believe in you!


Marisa Raymond, MS MPH CGC CYT-200 is a playful parent coach, yoga teacher, and board-certified genetic counselor for parents and children who feel mentally and physically EXHAUSTED from trying to do all.the.things. Her clients crave more family time but then, when it comes, they don’t know how to connect in a way that’s meaningful and enjoyable for everyone. Tempers flare, buttons get pushed, and everyone ends up feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated. Using a swiss army knife of tools as unique as her clients, Marisa helps families create more calm, ease, and joy.

Learn more at: https://marisaraymond.com or email her at marisa@marisaraymond.com.

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