Ever experienced this dynamic? Your child says or does something and your mind starts firing off with reactive impulses. You want to stop yelling, but certain behaviors trigger a strong reaction in you and it’s hard to hold it in. You briefly feel powerful as you express those immediate thoughts. Then comes the aftermath, when you feel flooded with shame, and maybe anger or hopelessness. How do we stop yelling and connect instead? 

I’ve developed a powerful tool that has helped my clients: Parenting Mantras. Learn the steps below and sign up for my workshop to create your own. Note – If the workshop is not currently being offered, please email me to ask about the next “Mantras workshop.”


Perhaps you can relate to one of these scenarios…

  • Your 14 year old is mad that you said she has to get off her phone and get ready for bed because she has a big test tomorrow. She says or yells something like, “I don’t see you getting ready for bed, so why do I have to?” You launch right back with, “Don’t talk to me that way. I’m an adult and you’re a kid.”
  • Your 7 year old kicks over his brother’s tower because he is tired of him driving his toy car into the wrong part of their imaginary garage. You march over and yell, “That wasn’t very nice! He’s younger than you. Be patient!”
  • You catch your 4 year old stacking boxes to try to get up to the shelf where he can find some cookies you bought for a special treat to have later. You shout, “What are you doing?! That’s dangerous. Get down right now!!”

While all of these reactions are perfectly understandable, none of them leads to cooperation and improved behavior. Instead, our angry responses either make our kids get more mad or more self-righteous, or ignite a fight. Not what we are really aiming for…

father yelling at his kid

We face these reactive moments frequently as parents. And if we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (aka HALT), we are especially in danger of yelling. I often help my clients learn to recognize which combination of these feelings is present as we work together to develop new ways of responding to aggravating situations with children and partners. Developing self-awareness is the first step to stop yelling. 

Whether you would describe yourself as a “yeller” or not, we’ve all been there – full of emotion and fury that bursts out in ways we often regret.  How do we gain the awareness and the will to pause before we speak or act? How do we stop yelling in our heads before we even open our mouths or avoid situations that lead to yelling or arguing? 

Try a “Pattern Interrupt” to change course: A Mantra

It’s in these moments that a pattern interrupt can shift the energy. What’s a pattern interrupt? A pattern interrupt is something that helps you pause and re-route in a different direction. This could be stopping to take a few breaths, looking at a little reminder symbol you’ve posted around your house (I have a process to help generate these), or one of my personal favorites – a parenting mantra. 

Pattern interrupts help us go from auto-pilot to conscious parent in less than a minute. 

What’s a parenting mantra? How will that help me stop yelling? 

A parenting mantra is a word or phrase that helps you regain control of yourself and focus on what you need to think or do in a given moment. Mantra comes from a Sanskrit word meaning a “sacred message or text, charm, spell, counsel.” When we come up with a phrase unique to us that reminds and guides us to act wisely and in alignment with our core values, we are much more likely to respond in a conscious way. As you practice using your mantra, it can be almost like a little bell in your mind that reminds you to slow down, listen, be playful, etc. in the moment.

Steps to create your own mantra:  

As a mom of three teenagers, I get frequent practice in feeling triggered and working to get control of myself. After I’ve raised my voice a few times about the same issue, it’s time for me to stop, close my eyes and:


Identify the trigger – the behavior that is causing me to react emotionally

Feel the feelings – figure out what’s bothering me and why

Consider what I need and what my kids need in that moment

Imagine a better outcome – figure out what needs to happen and how

Come up with any necessary actions and a phrase (a mantra) to help me stay on track with how I want to be

Want help creating your own mantras? Join me at a parent workshop by emailing me with the subject line “Mantras Workshop” or sign up for a Complimentary Clarity Call.


What does this look like in real life? 

A Teen Example:

I recently was getting frustrated with one of my teens being late every morning one week and I finally yelled at her one morning, and then felt bad, and she felt mad, and we both suffered with unpleasant feelings. So, I went through the steps outlined above myself:

  1. Triggers: my child being late without apparent remorse; impacting other people negatively
  2. Feelings: shame, embarrassment, anger, and powerlessness (ugh!) 
  3. Needs: I needed her to be more aware of the time and to work harder to respect her carpool. She needed help seeing the time more easily without looking at her phone and she needed one reminder instead of several.
  4. A better outcome
    • We talked through the situation during a calm time, and focused on what each of us needed.
    • I put a clock in the bathroom where she is getting ready
    • We agreed that I would check in 10 minutes before she needs to get out the door so that we connect in a pleasant way and she could better gauge her time.
    • She gets out the door on her own without me nagging her
  5.  Actions: Put a small digital clock in the bathroom and talk with her about the new plan 
  6.  Mantra: “One reminder and then let go” which meant letting her face the consequences of her behavior.

So far, this plan has been working much more smoothly, with most days going well. She has still been late a couple of days and has apologized to her carpool. She is actively working to be on time.  I feel more relaxed and we are more connected at the beginning of the day. She is learning to manage her time. 

A Toddler/Child Example:

Many of my clients with young children have faced tantrums about leaving the playground. Here’s how we’ve worked through these situations to come up with a mantra that helps parents and children move through these moments (with variations for each particular child).

  1. Triggers: one’s child throwing a loud fit that causes other people to stop and watch
  2. Feelings: shame, embarrassment, anger, and powerlessness 
  3. Needs: The child needs to feel acknowledged and be helped to work through frustration; the parent/caregiver needs to feel a sense of agency and self-compassion
  4. A better outcome
    • Talk through the playground visit plan and how and when you’ll leave.
    • If your child has a hard time leaving and forgets about the agreement, the parent acknowledges the sad and mad feelings, offers some comfort, sets a date to return, and then uses playfulness as a way to make the departure more fun (singing, racing, & pretending work well if you have the energy).
  5.  Actions: Discuss the plan, stay calm and stick with the agreement. 
  6.  Mantra: “Feel the feelings, then focus on fun”

Usually, once children feel that you truly understand their disappointment through your words, tone and actions, they are more willing to cooperate, especially if you then shift to having fun and being playful as you do whatever it is they were resisting.

Want to create your own mantras with other parents?

Join me for a Zoom workshop by emailing me to find out the next workshop date. 

You’ll have a chance to examine challenging moments with your kids and learn how to transform them with mantras that we generate together, both individually and as a group. 

I’ll guide us through a reflection to help you gain insight. Then I’ll lead you through the steps above to help you come up with a word or phrase that can help you stop yelling, feel better, and inspire more cooperation from your kids.

You’ll enjoy the wisdom of the group as you come up with mantras to help you stay on track with what’s most important to you with your kids. Join us and walk away with powerful phrases that make you feel clear, connected and confident in your parenting. 

Join Now!


Who I serve:
I coach parents from coast to coast in the US and internationally.  Thanks to Zoom, I am currently coaching parents from Boston to Seattle, Connecticut to California, as well as New York, Ohio, and Colorado. I’ve worked with parents in Bermuda, Japan, Portugal, and Canada as well. I’m grateful for these global and domestic connections!