How to Stop Being Mean to My Child

Negative discipline yields negative results. This is a tested and proven fact. And since children emulate what they see, we have no choice but to be cautious anytime we are applying disciplinary measures. I do not think that there’s a perfect way of dealing with this. But we can always do better and be better. That said, by identifying why it’s possible to approach the issue with a sense of sobriety. There is no way we can know how to stop being mean without first tackling why the parent is mean in the first place.

A psychopathology journal published showed that 85% of adolescents had been spanked or slapped by their parents. Regardless of the multiple campaigns against physical punishment by the American Academy of Paediatrics, this still happens in the 21st century.

Though reluctantly, we must admit that many times, our actions are a ripple effect of the way we were brought up. A lot of adults harbor bitterness from their childhood because, in the early days, discipline was enforced and painful. Anxiety, depression, and anger have therefore been an epidemic for a long time. This leaves parents relatively incapable of handling their emotional outbursts. 

Most of us grew up in an environment where being mean was tolerated. Below are a few pointers that we think would help to ease if not alleviate this completely.

How to Stop Being Mean to My Child: 7 Expert Tips

Let’s explore a few pointers together that can positively influence our reactions.

1. Be Aware of the Triggers

The best way to do this is to write it down every time you confront your child. Take note of the happenings and find out the main cause of your reaction. To most parents, underlying issues such as unresolved past hurts could cause us to over-react.

Once you know the cause, you can deal with it in phases. Maybe even hold a discussion with your child about it. This relieves the child of the guilt and stops them from blaming themselves for your outburst. Awareness equips us to better control ourselves and shift our focus.

2. Decide Your Reaction Beforehand

This means planning ahead of time how you will approach a discussion that is likely to trigger mean actions. For instance, you may decide to walk away every time your child does something annoying. You can also take deep breaths before you speak.

Such activities discharge anger and give you back control so that whatever you say next is not emotionally driven. You have already taken charge, so, the way you handle the same matter could be completely different.

3. Come up with a Mantra

A Mantra is a powerful tool for emotional management. It can be used to manage anxiety, anger, or depression. It involves positive self-talk to calm your nerves. Some of the commonly used mantras include:

  • It could have been worse
  • This child is communicating something
  • I can be patient one more time
  • This child deserves better

Parents who use mantras find it easy to manage outbursts and influence their children to use them too.

4. Find a Way to Channel Your Negative Energy

Research shows that anger is usually a reaction to something. Often anger emanates from an already existing emotional strain. For instance, you may exhibit anger because you are stressed, tired, or hungry.

When anger starts rising, it should signal you to do something. If you are unprepared, you will often fall for ill reactions such as yelling and cursing. But once you have a way to channel your energy, it becomes easy to walk away, play some music, get to work, and so on.

5. Set House Rules Beforehand

The majority of parents prefer to raise children in free mode. It seems easier but in reality, it breeds inconsistency. Maybe the only reason our kids drive us up the wall is that we are not consistent in our instructions. Most people do not like rules and routines, but these are magical tools when it comes to parenting.

When a child knows that no matter what happens; there’s no name-calling, no hitting, no cursing, and so on. That is ingrained in their minds as the standard. It makes it easy to go back to the rules when limits are tested.

When there are no rules to fall back to, being mean becomes an easy fallback. So, establish rules and be consistent.

6. Decide on Effective Discipline Measures

In place of anger-oriented disciplining, a parent should be proactive in finding effective ways of correcting the child.

Only a few families manage to raise children without threats, punishments, timeouts, name-calling and cursing. But it can be done. This kind of parenting requires a huge emotional investment.

A strong connection is cultivated between the child and the parent such that rules, limits, and guidelines are not enforced. Instead, a child is helped to cope with any need that could drive ill behavior.

Studies show that children raised in such a positive environment have a higher capacity to take responsibility for their actions when they are still young and adjust well emotionally.

7. Seek Professional Help

Parents often seek professional help way too late when they have already disconnected with their children, the family is in chaos, and they are on the verge of depression. We wouldn’t advocate for this. If there is anything that can save your child from trauma, self-hate, and anger management issues, it is counseling.

Seek help, talk to a professional. You are looking out for the health of your child and the family as a whole.


Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to parent. Parenting methods differ owing to different personalities, environments, and exposure. This is why we recommend professional help where the parent-child relationship is strained.

Many times, we ignore our children’s emotional well-being and get too absorbed in what’s happening. But children are affected by life changes much more than we can imagine. In instances such as change of school, home address, or health challenges, behavior change is expected. Thus, we need to be lenient with our little ones.