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10 Ways Your Thoughts Trigger Parental Anger

"It is never the events that cause stress, it's how we perceive those events and what we perceive them to mean about ourselves."

​Jackie Hall - Qualified Counsellor & Founder of The Parental Stress Centre

Often we blame the things going on around us for feeling stressed or angry - it's the child's behaviour, it's my partner, it's lack of sleep, it's having no money. The list can be endless.

However, does everyone have the same reaction when facing these events?
Do you even have the same reactions EVERY SINGLE TIME you are faced with an event?

The answer is no. This is because your 'story' about the event changes when you are perceiving it in that moment, depending on what else is happening, or has been happening around you.

Mindset when it comes to anything, is hugely powerful and to be that calm parent you're wanting to be, you often have to learn how to master your mindset so you can get out of the story that's causing you to feel stressed.

Here are 10 ways your thinking can cause you Parental Anger:

#1 - You are focussed on the picture of how thing are ‘supposed to be' rather than how they are

This is number one because it's the most common. The brain thinks in pictures. We created a picture of how something would pan out, and what's happening is very different to your expectations, however you are still focussed on the old picture. You need to upgrade your picture with what is ACTUALLY happening so you can free your attention particles up to do something about it.

#2 - You have attached your self-worth to getting parenting ‘right’

With the picture of the 'right' way things were supposed to go, is also often a 'right' way that brain has determined that YOU need to be in order to feel loved, valued, respected, to belong and to feel good, or good enough. When life is going to plan, you feel good about yourself, but when it's not, you feel worth.....less (how worth-less will depend on the how strongly you've attached your self-worth to outcome).

The belief is that if "I can't be [insert perfectionist/achiever/responsible one/people pleaser/peace maker] then I'm not good enough." This causes anger because of the hidden hurt. Anger is a way of trying to control events so you can achieve your goal or because you feel out of control because you haven't achieved your goal.

#3 - You’re catastrophizing by talking in absolutes using words like NEVER, ALWAYS, NOTHING

"I have NOTHING to wear!"
"You kids are ALWAYS behaving this way. You NEVER listen to me."
"You NEVER help me around the house. You're ALWAYS making other things a priority" (Might be something you say to your partner).

Catastrophising or speaking in absolutes sends the brain on an evidence finding mission and will draw up all of the times you have no clothes, not been listened to, when the kids have been playing up, how your partner never helps you. It narrows its focus ONLY to those reference points in your brain and won't ever look for the time when you have had new clothes, you have been listened to, the kids did behave, or when your partner did help.

This narrow view seemingly justifies your anger because you think you are right. Based on the evidence you are drawing upon, you might be. But this isn't ALL that's going on. Plus if you only focus on what you don't want, how do you focus on what you do want and start moving in that direction?

#4 – You’re focused on the past

As you'll see, a lot of these points all start to blend in together. Your brain is constantly bringing information from your reference points to the conscious mind so you can assess how to respond to current events.

If you have trained yourself to look for what goes wrong, how much you're missing out, how behaviour has occurred in the past or how people have acted, you don't give change a chance. You are living in the past, not in the present.

With this focus, you can become angry at life before anything has even happened! You already expect that it's going to go the way it did in the past and you have your reaction all ready to go.

#5 – You’re worried about a potential future

This is a biggie with anger. You are using the information from the past to predict a future outcome and you worry about how it will all play out. You're not living in the now, you're living partway in the past and into a potential future.

You'll say things like, 'What if...." and "I just know 'x' will happen'". "I don't know how I'm going to handle it when 'x' happens" and you tie up your attention, focussing on something that hasn't even happened.

#6 – You’re personalising your child’s behaviour

Guess what? Your child's behaviour is not about you! It's about where they are at in their brain development and how they are perceiving life in that moment, just like where your actions and emotions come from.

But as parents, we get fixated on outcome and think we are responsible for every little decision and action our child does and think that it is due to our failings when they respond a certain way. We think we've failed, we're hopeless, everyone else is doing it better. We feel unloved, like no one respects us or that there is something wrong with us because our child is acting this way.

But your child's reaction comes from their mindset! They need help with their thinking, just like you do. Sure they may have learnt some mindset strategies from you that may need to change, but that doesn't mean you have failed. How great that you've become aware of it. Now you can do something about it!

When you can jump out of the world of you and into the world of them and how you can help them to learn, grow and navigate their way in the world, then you free your attention particles up to be solution focussed about how you can teach them, rather than rolling around in a crappy story about how you have failed, which doesn't help anyone (and it reinforces the very beliefs you want to change in yourself and your child).

#7 – Your expectations are unrealistic

Clean house, perfect children, excellent finances, do things for others, do things for me, have it balanced at ALL times. There's no room for flexibility here! Life doesn't always go to plan. But your mind thinks it should and you get all caught up in stress when life doesn't go the way you want it to.

The belief here is "I think I 'should' be able to do more, be more, have more, learn more, apply more and then I'll get life right!"

It's okay to have goals, but you have to be flexible because life doesn't always go to plan and life isn't always balanced. Sometimes you have to find a different way to get to your goals, learn some new ways on how to get to your goal and revise your plans.

#8 – You’re in conflict with reality

This is one of my own personal catchphrases when I'm rolling around in my 'pit of shit', thinking things should be different to how they are.
Stress is caused because your thinking is in conflict with the reality of what is.

It can be in conflict with the reality of the situation (Reality is your child is having a tantrum right now).
It can be in conflict with the reality of parenting (Reality is children of 4 and under don't have logic and reasoning skills so their behaviour will often NOT be rational).
It can be in conflict with the reality of life. (Reality is life doesn't always go to plan. It's full of ups and downs.)
It can be in conflict with the reality of self-worth (Reality is that worth is not defined by outcome, or we'd all be worth-less because life doesn't always go to plan.)

#9 – You’re still making decisions and acting through your child self

Because the brain thinks from the references of the past, and your brain was largely set up between the ages of 0 to 7, often you are still making decisions based on experiences that occurred in your childhood.

For example:
"In order to get love, I need to do everything for everyone."
"You can't ask for help or you're lazy."
"I have to achieve to avoid getting in trouble" or the flipside, "I have to achieve to get love."
"In order to feel good enough, I need people to like me" so I fear judgement.

There are so many examples of how our decisions from childhood are still motivating our actions today and causing us stress as logically we know, we cannot possibly live up to these expectations, and we don't want to either. But unconsciously, the brain still thinks it needs to protect you from pain or pursue pleasure by living these same habits.

#10 – You’re stuck in blame mode – they should have behaved differently!!

We have an expectation that other people's priorities should be the same as yours. But are your priorities always the same as other people's? Is it okay for others to make different choices?

When you get stuck in blame mode, again your focus is on the past - the picture you had of the way things were 'supposed to go'. You're not looking for ways to negotiate with the other person, align with them, create ways of co-operating with each other, or finding their entry point at which those negotiations can be made.

Instead, you're stuck in a story that's in conflict with reality. Reality is, they did what they did, so where to from here? How can you either help your children with their mindset so that they change their priorities, teach them some consequences about life because they made that decision or work with them on a solution. How can you communicate, negotiate and compromise now that the behaviour did occur? This can also apply to your relationships too.

You see, your mind is key to changing how you feel about your life. You can set about changing the circumstances of your life, yelling at the kids to obey and comply, get annoyed to justify your position and stay in your own 'pit of shit', or you can work on your mindset so you can free it up to become solution focussed about your present reality.

So how many of these have you found applies to you, that you need to work on?

Need help to CHANGE these thoughts and tame your temper?
Click below to learn more about our 28 Day Tame Your Temper Challenge..

Child behaviour solutions don’t work, so I get angry

Why is it that you try so hard to find solutions to your child’s behaviour so that you can be calm, only to find that the solutions don’t work, and you end up being angry again?

Here’s my answer:

Most of the time, the problem isn’t the solutions causing you the anger, but the self-worth attachment you have to NEEDING the solutions to work.

We live in an instant gratification world where everything is at our fingertips and so often I see parents get attached to the outcome of implementing solutions – expecting immediate results. There’s no flexibility in between the now and the outcome.

When you decide on what solution to try, you get attached to the result you want. You NEED it to reach that outcome for some reason and you make it mean something about you when you can’t.

For example: When we get upset over child behaviour, it’s always because we have personalised it somehow. When you implement a strategy and it doesn’t work, what is the conversation you’re having with yourself?

I’m a shit mother/father? Why can’t I control my child? Everybody is looking at me thinking I’ve got no idea what I’m doing? They don’t love me, respect me, or appreciate me?

In the above, we’ve made their behaviour all about ourselves. That’s what causes the upset.

But when you jump out of the world of you and into the world of your child, here’s what you most likely find:

a) They are still at a developmental stage where logic and reasoning are not active parts of the brain (children under 4); they are learning how to communicate their wants and needs and starting to play around with ways of doing this, including copying other behaviours they see – yours, friends, relatives, siblings etc (school age children); their brain is doing a major rewire where they are not using logic and reasoning a lot of the time to make decisions and there is a lot of hormonal confusion going on, plus they are trying to gain independence and control over their lives in preparation for adulthood (teenagers).

b) Their behaviour is coming from their own interpretations of their life; how they fit in, whether they feel loved, whether they feel accepted, approved of, or over controlled etc.

c) Because they get something out of the behaviour. It either helps them to defend themselves or it gets them what they want.

In all three cases above, the reason behind your child’s behaviour wasn’t even about you. It was about them and how they were perceiving life.

Before you even look at their behaviour, you have to first understand why it’s there in the first place, by understanding where they are at in their brain development, how they’re perceiving the family dynamics (and social dynamics with older children) and what their payoff is. Everyone makes decisions to move towards a better feeling place (pursue pleasure and avoid pain).

So when you look to solutions for an immediate fix before you can get to your better feeling place, it’s bound to cause upset. You’re in conflict with the reality of learning and development of children (and humans for that matter).

It took some time to set up the behaviour, so it can take some time to deconstruct that behaviour and build new habits, and rules of engagement, or it can take time simply for an entirely new phase in development to take effect.

The reality is that some solutions aren’t an immediate fix, especially when it involves the behaviour of someone else and family dynamics.

If you personalise the solutions you are trying out on your kids it suggests to me that you likely hold the belief that you ‘should’ know how to fix/stop/improve behaviour or perhaps you believe you are the one responsible for the outcome of your child’s behaviour (which you can’t be. You can be responsible for what you teach your children about life and a standard you will/won’t accept for their behaviour, but you can’t ever be responsible for another person’s behaviour and choices. That’s their choice based on the circumstances, their brain development and priorities they hold in that moment).

The reality to adopt in your mindset is one of flexibility in some instances. Recognise that repetition and consistency is what helps to shape our children’s beliefs and priorities. You will need flexibility in time frame you place on when you will reach those preferred child behaviours.

You will also need flexibility in expecting a certain outcome from yourself. Sometimes the solutions you try to implement won’t work, and you’ll have to try another one. That’s okay. That’s normal. They reckon that Thomas Edison tried 1000 different times to invent the light bulb before he was successful. Michael Jordon lost 300 games, missed 9000 shots and 26 times he was given the ball to take the winning shot and missed!

Everything in life comes with hit and miss, and way too often we let outcomes define our worth as a parent, instead of just accepting the reality that parenting is not about perfection, but about awareness and adjustment where persistence, learning, tweaking and sticking to our goal, or knowing when to just let it go and pursue another goal, is in order.

Keep your self-worth out of it and keep focusing on where you are right now, where your child is at, what you want for you and your child, and how you can bridge that gap.

"It takes a village to raise a child"

The PSC's 'Bring My Family Calm' Membership invites you to that village

Never feel alone or stressed in your parenting again

Kids Are An Interruption To My Life. Ouch!

One day, my children were mucking around. My husband was working away at the time and I was trying to get them into bed.

They were laughing and giggling and jumping about. At first I was playing along, but then I wanted them to settle down. I had a lot of work to do when they went to sleep and my focus was on doing that. I’d had enough of the play. It was time to sleep and I was attached to the picture of them calming down.

However, they weren’t playing the game and kept mucking around (as children do). My blood started boiling as the conversation in my head started to roll around in “they’re not listening to me”…I just want them to stop….”They need to go to bed NOW”….blah, blah, blah.

It escalated until I came to breaking point and shouted at them in my clenched-teeth way when I lose control. They instantly quietened down and went to bed, but I felt awful! That’s not the way to end the day. However I’d done it and I couldn’t take it back.

Knowing what I know in regards to the teachings of The Parental Stress Centre, I knew I needed to find the core belief that drove my anger to begin with. What was really going on to make me react this way? Was there any pattern to my thinking that causes me to react like this in other times?

I got to journaling, like I get my course participants to do when we’re trying to establish the beliefs behind our emotions, and after a while of looking at my ‘story’ behind my anger, it hit me. My core belief was:

“My children are an interruption to my life!”

WTF, are you serious? I couldn’t believe this is what I had thought. How terrible that was to think that way. But there it was right there on the page, and I knew that’s what I believed, because I felt it to the point of tears stinging the back of my eyes.

Oh dear, that was one belief I definitely needed to upgrade. I didn’t want my kids to feel like they were interrupting my life.

So here’s the upgrade:

Nothing can interrupt your life. Every experience IS your life. It’s just one event giving way to the next. There is no event that is more important than another. Everything is valuable. My children were in the moment, something I need to do more of. Parenting is a part of my life experience, too and I need to embrace every moment with my kids because, just like every other moment in life, it will rise and pass away. They will grow up, leave the nest and I will move onto other activities. My children are not an interruption to my life. They ARE my life, and a big part of it. Enjoy the moments while they’re here.

Change what you think about and what you think about changes…


"It takes a village to raise a child"

The PSC's 'Bring My Family Calm' Membership invites you to that village

Never feel alone or stressed in your parenting again

Money Stress Makes Me An Unhappy Parent

A constant theme that runs through the info that you read in my programs, is this:

“Stress is never caused by events. It’s how you perceive those events and what you perceive them to mean about you/your life!”

Money, or the lack of it as the case may be, is not causing your unhappiness. It’s what you think the lack of money means about you, your life, or your kids’ life. My proof of that is, does everyone who is not rich feel the same sense of lack and the stress that comes with this feeling?

If it were lack of money causing people stress, then wouldn’t everyone who were poor feel unhappy? But that’s not true. Sure it may be the majority, but there’s still a minority who really don’t care about their financial status. They have other things that they’re focusing on that make them happen. So it can’t be the money that causes unhappiness.

And therein lies my point.

What this minority are focusing on is ‘something else’. They don’t even have their attention on the lack.

Your stress over money doesn’t even come from your money situation. It comes from your perception of the lack. It’s a classic missing out lens. Look at what I don’t have. Look at what I’m missing out on because of that lack. I’m missing out on how life should be.

But this may be the very perception that is keeping you stuck in this current financial position.

This thinking is in conflict with reality! Your financial position is your financial position. That’s reality. Your judgment is what causes the stress.

So, what to do now you realise that?

Figure out what you want. What would be the ideal scenario for you in regards to money? Be specific. What impact would this ideal have on your life? What would life look like if you had this ideal?

Immerse yourself in the imaginative process of how it would feel to have a different financial picture going on in your life.

Now, how can you get it? Where is the information, the resources, the tools and the experts that can teach you how to get where you want to be?

See how you are now a lot more solution focused about how to get ahead, rather than rolling in your story of how bad or lacking your life is?

You won’t change your position by wishing it wasn’t so. You’re at where you’re at. Period. So what are you going to do about it now you’re here?

Stop holding yourself back by thinking…



Get It Right. You HAVE To Be Perfect.

Who on earth made that rule?!! Umm, I hate to say this…but you did.

We often hear in the parenting community that there is so much pressure on parents to get it right and do everything perfectly.

But who’s actually judging whether you’re doing it right or not?

The thing about judgment is that someone may have an opinion about what is right or not, but your reaction to their opinion comes from your beliefs, not from theirs.

No one can MAKE you feel any particular way. What they do though, is trigger something that already exists within you! They trigger the beliefs that you already hold about yourself and your life.

If you are feeling pressured, it’s because YOU believe you have to meet a certain standard in order to look good or be perceived a certain way.

YOU are the one setting the bar, so you can be the one to change it.

The only reason why other parents don’t succumb to the pressure of parenting is because they have a mindset that believes that they aren’t perfect. They know they are doing the best they can. They are continually looking for solutions to their problems. They don’t think it means anything about them if they can’t get it to be perfect or if they have an off day and they don’t believe other people’s opinions define who they are as a parent.

So when they hear about the ‘pressure of parents today’, it doesn’t trigger a response.

Adopt this mindset too, and your world will be a much more relaxed space.

Change your beliefs and you’ll change your reactions…


"It takes a village to raise a child"

The PSC's 'Bring My Family Calm' Membership invites you to that village

Never feel alone or stressed in your parenting again

What Are You Like To Live With?

Spinning back in time and I am observing me in the heat of arsenic hour when my kids were 2 and 3 years old.

They were whinging, clinging, the house was a mess, dishes everywhere, dinner trying to be cooked, I’m tired. I don’t want to be dealing with any of this. It’s been a long day and I’m hanging for my husband to come home to help take the load off.

Cue the telephone call from hubby.

“I’m going to be late.”  Those 5 dreaded words that no worn out stay-at-home parent wants to hear when they are so desperately needing a break.

“Oh, whatever then!” was my unappreciative, rude and short reply before I hung up in disgust, acting like he meant to be late from work. Like he didn’t give a damn about what I was going through. Doesn’t he know that I need help over here?!!!

Fast forward an hour or so and hubby walked through the door to a pissed off wife, a grunt as I handed over a child to be washed and as I continued to do the relentless amount of chores needing to be done.

What must it have been like to live with me back then? A nightmare! And my husband is not afraid to tell me so.

So today, I want you to think about what you are like to live with? If you work from home, or perhaps go to work during the day and at the end of the day you are tired, what is it like for the other people in your family to have to deal with you?

I want you to think about this because quite often, we look to others to blame them for how they are treating us and what they are doing to make us unhappy. But how often do we turn those pointed fingers back around to ourselves and see the part that we play in our relationships?

What if, today when you got home, or your partner gets home, you greet them with a smile, a ‘how was your day’, a “I really missed you today”  and a warmth that serves to mix things up a bit.

Make an effort and you might just find that those ‘feral’ times of the day, don’t have to be so feral.

Taking Responsibility,


Drowning In Parenthood? Start Here.

Quite often I read the posts of people introducing themselves on my Live programs, and I think “Wow, you’ve got so much going on.  Where should we start first.”

So this post is to help those of you who are feeling this way about your life and parenthood.

What do you want?

A seemingly simple question, yet one that is not often answered with specifics, or if it is, it is answered as more than a wish then a serious goal or expectation.

But this by far is the most important question to ask yourself when you feel like you’re drowning, because we often get sucked into the vortex of seeing everything we don’t have.

I can tell you that there are no solutions down that road.

What is it that you want in your parenting experience?
What is it that you want in your relationships?
What sort of relationship do you want with your kids, your family, etc.?
What does the ideal work/life balance look like?
What sort of person do you want to be?

Sit down with yourself and look at every area of your life and think about what the ideal would look like. What sort of life do you want to create for yourself? What would make you happy?

When you’ve done that, ask yourself whether you have been specific about these wants. When you look at those wants, would you be able to tell that you had achieved them?  Or can you be even more specific?

Knowing what you want is the first step to changing your life, because it gives you a direction to go in.  From this point, you can then begin to focus on how to get this information, where you can find the information that will help you to get there and who can teach it to you.

Struggles in life don’t mean a failed life. They just mean you lost your direction, or you haven’t yet learnt the skills required to get you there. Don’t waste time thinking about that though, just focus on what you want and how to learn so you can get there!

Free yourself and redesign your life.



"It takes a village to raise a child"

The PSC's 'Bring My Family Calm' Membership invites you to that village

Never feel alone or stressed in your parenting again

5 Steps to Being Organised

Because your perception is of being time poor, I’m just going to give you those 5 steps straight up.

  1. What do you want? Be specific. What does organised look like? Write it down.
  2. Write down everything that is in your day/week that needs attention and how much time that would take to get those things done.
  3. Write down other things that you’d like to have time to do and allocate time for that.
  4. What do you need in order to reach this goal? Support? More outside help?
  5. What is your plan of attack? How can you get these things into a schedule that’s do able?

I ask you, in those five steps, how many times did I ask you to tell me:

  • How much time you DON’T have
  • What you DON”T want
  • How everything else always takes priority and no one cares about you
  • How you never get anything done.

Yet how often do we roll in that story? It’s time to get solution focused. There are organised people out there and you could be one of them. It all starts with focusing on what you want and then creating opportunities and planning your life to get what you want.

Create a plan and take action!


"It takes a village to raise a child"

The PSC's 'Bring My Family Calm' Membership invites you to that village

Never feel alone or stressed in your parenting again

I Stopped Myself From Having One Of ‘Those’ Mornings

This morning was one of those chaotic, can’t find anything, running late, have to get out the door on time, kids have the shits kind of morning. You know the ones. They can potentially lead to you having just as big a meltdown as the kids.

Except, instead of just getting over it, like the kids do, these mornings tend to leave you feeling really guilty all day because of how you treated your kids.

These are the types of thoughts that went on in my head to change the default thinking that usually sends me into anger.

  • This is just one of ‘those’ mornings. It’s not a reflection of the rest of my day (or my life).
  • The reality is that Ryan can’t find his shoes so I’m going to have to help him look for them. Now where could they be?
  • Jackie, stop! The reality is that Ryan (8yo) has woken up in a feral mood. Do you really think shouting at him and getting angry is going to get him out of it? Just give him a hug instead. Get out of the world of you and your ‘late-ness’ and focus on Ryan and what he needs from you right now. You know this is more likely to speed him up.
  • Seriously, how much later am I really going to be. Is it really going to matter if I’m 15 minutes late. Calm down. Take a step back and focus on what we need to do. The reality is, this morning didn’t go to plan.  It happens. Move on.
  • When I finally get out the door, these moments are going to be a thing of the past. It won’t even matter by this afternoon.
  • Change the picture! I know you wanted the dishes done before you left, but today, it’s just not going to happen. That’s okay. Life will go on and that doesn’t matter either.

Oh yes, I’m going to say it again:

 All stress is conflict between beliefs (what you’re thinking) and reality.

Notice your thoughts that send you into stress and anger and practice pulling your attention into alignment with reality by accepting what is in front of you, looking at it from the perspective of the bigger picture and get solution focused about it.

In the grand scheme of things, will it really matter in one year’s time?

Keeping it real…


Am I Going To Be Enough For My Child?

“Am I going to mess up my child’s life? Will I give them a good enough life? Teach them enough? Love them enough?”

This is a fear the runs through the minds of parents everyone. However, it is a fear that does not need to occur.

Remember how often I say that all stress is a conflict between belief and reality?

Well fear is the belief that you (or someone else) might miss out on something and life won’t go right.

However, when we expand our attention out and look at the bigger picture, the reality is that life can’t go wrong? Big statement huh? Well let me explain.

No matter what direction your life takes it will always be filled with highs and lows, goods and bads, wanted and unwanted. You can’t escape that. It’s just a fact of life.

If you think life is going wrong because it hasn’t gone to plan, then you are essentially saying that everyone’s life has gone wrong, because no one’s life always goes to plan.

Our job as a parent is not to get their lives right, but to help them deal with life when it doesn’t go right.

You are doing the best you can with the information that you have, the beliefs you hold about life and about what you believe is a ‘right’ life. You cannot predict what the future will hold, nor the challenges your child will face. Of course you will try and help your child avoid major potholes in their life, but you won’t be able to protect them from everything.

Nor do you want to, because EVERY event we experience holds value – it teaches us something and helps us to learn and grow as human beings, especially our adversities.

So don’t fear that you are going to mess their lives up, because the reality is, you can’t!

However if you do feel like you are not parenting in alignment with your goals, values or wants, that’s when you can turn your attention towards how you are going to learn to do it differently…because you WANT to experience that connection with your child, not because you’re scared their life won’t go to plan.

The best thing you can do for your child is help them learn a reality-based approach to life where they learn how to handle life’s challenges with an accurate view of reality and self-worth, which is exactly what I passionately teach parents in my online Stress Free Kids, Stress Free Parenting course.

We need to teach children not to fear life going wrong, but to embrace ALL challenges and see the value in them. But often, we first need to learn this for ourselves.

Life is a journey…


"It takes a village to raise a child"

The PSC's 'Bring My Family Calm' Membership invites you to that village

Never feel alone or stressed in your parenting again