I yelled at my son

I just yelled at my son.

I yelled at him in a way meant to scare him, meant to shake him to the core.

I yelled at him in a way that I only recall being yelled at once– it was that unforgettable.

I yelled at him out of frustration and anger and pure desperation.

I yelled in a way that if I witnessed it as an outsider, I would be unable not to judge– what kind of mother yells at her offspring like that?

I yelled in a way that I never want to again.

Because, now, he is drifting to sleep and the thought of my voice echoing in his head is tearing me apart.

And I wonder what kind of mother I am, to yell like that at the child I love with all of my being.

Tonight, it wasn’t the one I want to be.

About the writer


In addition to being the founder of all things Scary Mommy, Jill is also the New York Times bestselling author of Simon and Schuster’s Confessions of A Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)


Amy 2 weeks ago

“I yelled at him out of frustration and anger and pure desperation.”

Yep, this sums it up perfectly. Angry, scary screamed at my 9 yr old last night. To say I feel like a jerk is an understatement. I immediately hugged him and apologized and tried to do damage repare but feel like I just made things more confusing and worse for him. I feel like such a failure! Worried that I have scarred him for life. I try so hard to be a patient, pro active parent and I am just so disappointed in myself for loosing control. Being a mom is the hardest most emotionally tolling job I have ever had.

Susan 2 months ago

This happened to me last night. I was so angry with my son and it was really ridiculous what I was angry about. It really wasn’t about one thing, it was about months of frustration with him and it all just came pouring out of me. I did not feel better. I told my son that I didn’t like him and this morning when I told him I loved him, he said, “yeah, but you don’t like me.” I know I hurt him and I feel like a stupid jerk. I was not the mom I wanted to be last night and it’s not just last night, it’s been months now. It sucks.

Shannon 2 months ago

I am so happy to read this. Not so say I am happy that everyone feels horrible, but happy that it’s normal. If so many of us have these same stories, then it isn’t that we are monsters, it is that we are human. I think the first step to knowing that we are really great moms and dads is that we are googling how to be better, finding this amazing artical, and posting stories that others reading are connecting wth and have been there too. If we were the horrible monsters that we think we are, the yelling and frustration wouldn’t phase us. I am so happy I found this site and I hope we can all remember that yelling is not the answer, but it happens. Instead of feeling so horrible about ourselves when it does, let’s remember that we may be teaching our kids something very valuable: people are not perfect and should not be expected to be. People feel, and it is ok to have feelings no matter what judgment they might bring upon us. People can make mistakes and take things out on people they love, then say sorry, and then be ok. My daughter is almost 3 and I love her more than anything in this whole world and she drives me crazy sometimes. After coming to the realization that I just had, I’m realizing that that’s pretty darn normal and ok. So let’s all keep googling and looking for the right answers. Because that means we are doing a damn good job, and let’s also remember that having kids is the hardest thing you will ever do and if it’s not then you aren’t doing it right. Best of luck everyone!

Gigimomma 6 months ago

I am so glad I found this blog. Thank you for sharing a moment we all have had and making us aware that we’re not alone in this parenting business.
This just happened last night to me. I yelled like I’ve never yelled before at my 3 year old son and the look on his face is one I never want to see on him again. He was wounded and so was I. It was desperation, exhaustion and frustration. I immediately regretted my words and told him I was sorry and he said sorry too and we cried. Then I felt terrible, like I was an abuser who flies off the handle and then says sorry!
But I talked myself out of that because I would never harm my son like that, he is my world and my life. How do we get over the guilt?? I am still so heartbroken over my yelling.
thank you all for sharing

Mommy 6 months ago

I just lost my $hit on my two year old today and screamed at the top of my lungs to him. I had to literally drag him by the arm three city blocks while he screamed bloody murder for all to see and hear. I feel horrible. The look on his face was heartbreaking and it didn’t help stop his tantrum at all. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing else to do and you get desperate to make them listen and just stop for one second. My dad used to yell at us a lot as kids and I hated it but I do love him still and we get along great now that I’m grown. My son drives me insane and I think I’m not cut out to be a stay at home mom! I want to send him off to school because they are better with him than I am. I like being a mom in small doses. The guilt is so high right now. I would have judged BIG time if I saw a mom screaming at a two year old like I did today. :(

Sarah 7 months ago

I yelled this morning while trying to get out of the house on school run. I have been beating myself up inside ever since. Helpful to read these comments to remind me of the bigger picture. Thanks!

Angie 8 months ago

I did this. Just tonight. God help me. I was a monster. Thank you for this. It makes me feel human again. But how do I tell him I am sorry. And he is a good, sweet boy and I am just so, so tired.

Alyssa 9 months ago

I wont lie, it’s been a horrible day for my toddler. He’s thrown things, pitched fits. I took him to Waffle house and when I went to pay, he ran BEHIND the counter and was almost inside the deep fryer by the time I caught him. When I got him home, I unleashed a furry that could be held in comparison to that of Mommy Dearest. I didn’t beat him with a wire hanger, but I screamed at him for it, and then for spilling his drink, and then for knocking over clothes that I had just folded and then for having an accident in his pants and then for stomping a pop tart into my just cleaned carpet..

He is now sleeping peacefully, and I’ve had a few glasses of wine, and I just feel like a horrible person. I feel like, I don’t even deserve to be his parent. He hasn’t had it easy, and bless his heart, he has little room to run around be a full boy. I just feel like a failure.. like, his first memories are going to be of me, screaming and yelling at him in a frustrated fit of rage. I had a horrid mother, so I am sitting here googling how to be a good one! How the hell does that work lol I’m just glad to know I’m not alone. I love him with every beat of my heart, I just feel so lost and alone in this.. where is the line between too little and too much.. see.. this is the stuff they should tell you about in school.. Not how your body gets fat or your ass wont be the same… but the emotional and mental tole being a parent takes on you.

I’m sorry, I’m ranting, and crying, and maybe even a little “drunk-commenting” but I’m just glad to know I’m not alone.

CB 11 months ago

I read this last night right after I had a break down and the exact same thing you are saying here happened to me. It made me feel just a little better knowing I’m not alone in this. I just can’t figure out how to keep myself calm.. I don’t deserve my precious angel…

Hanifa 11 months ago

I dont get how this is ok. I yell at my 2 year old daily. Its not ok and saying sorry everyday cant heal the damage evident in his behaviour. I wish I could stop shouting, screaming, acting like a lunatic. I want him protected, loved, happy. Weve been through so much, him and I both – its not his fault. Why am I taking our circumstance out on him when I should be showering him with more love due to it.
#haunted… and I guess tomorrow, I’ll yell again

Mem 12 months ago

I Would like to thank you all for such comments
Today during breakfast I had the worst moment with my 2years old daughter,she spread the coffee mag on the sofa and carpet every where.i started yelling badly at her,she was sat on the sofa and quiet,she was trying to tell me mama I love you so much….but I didn’t want to listen,she is so active and really I feel exhausted alone and pregrant with second one.Usualy I try to be calm no matter what she does but today I could not.i felt so bad about it and told her sorry,I walked out with her in terrace and was showing her the snow.i called her father to come from work to help as I felt weak after that moment.i slept a bit and woke up with kiss and hugs.
I really find it so difficult to look after kids,I was managing 370employees in my career,this is my first year of break but it s a des aster,specially if you have a husband who works as celebrity chef from 8am to 00midnight,so I have to deal with it all alone.
Anyway I am convinced that I m a good mom,I left all my glory to be with my princess and not to leave her with a nanny but just we need a break sometimes

Crystal 1 year ago

I yelled at my 5 year old before school this morning! I immediately told him I was sorry and not is fault but my fault! The guilt is terrible I talked too his teacher she said don’t worry! I can’t wait to pick him up from school! I am sick with fever so I can’t play, but I really need to make this up to him

Diana 1 year ago

I am so glad I have found this site. Last night I yelled at my son without any serious reason (lately he reads books much less and plays video games). I was screaming at him and made him cry too.
After he fell asleep I started crying and was feeling terrible. It’s not the first time but happens not often.
This morning he said sorry and I said sorry, hugged and kissed each other but inside me I feel very bad and ashamed.
When he grows up I don’t want him to remember me like this. Feeling terrible.

Sara 1 year ago

I screamed at my three year old daughter this morning. Pretty much right in her ear. I instantly felt terrible. It’s not the first time I’ve screamed at her. But, every single time I feel like the worst mom in the world and that I’ve scarred her for life. I found your post while looking for some comfort in others who understand. So, thank you for sharing. We are all doing the best we can.

Brad 1 year ago

Great to see that there are lots of imperfect parents out there, like myself.

Shana Norton 2 years ago

Oh, thank you for your honesty! I just did the same thing to mine and I obviously am feeling horrible because I just googled this! I made him feel bad not for wetting the bed, but for changing clothes and going back to sleep in it. Like you, I am a teacher, and sometimes we are more patient with the school children. I just went in and kissed him and prayed for him (while he was asleep). I hate feeling horrible! Bless you :)

Frustrated mom 2 years ago

I did too, at my 3.5 year old son. And I feel terrible ….I was low all day and angry with my husband, who never helps out with the kid or does his chores and always belittles my efforts. Today I just blasted my kid coz he has been behaving naughtily all week and refusing to listen to me. So I kind of lost my cool. My boy was sobbing a lot and what’s worse, my husband has now locked me out of the room and is being the “nice and good parent” and helping my boy learn some music which he enjoys and is absolutely refusing to let me in to apologize to my baby.

Liberty Nussbaum 2 years ago

This was me last night. I feel absolutely sick about it. It's one of those things where I don't know if I'll ever be able to forgive myself. Thank you for writing this, putting this out there, so I know I'm not the only one.

Tennile Rapley 2 years ago

Im feeling awful but that just made me feel a little better. Thank you

Michelle Read 2 years ago

Feel relieved I'm not the only mum who has screamed at her son I feel terrible whe it happens but its important to kiss and cuddle after and also learn from your mistakes see a support if you are struggling to cope anything to help you cope is better than doing nothing x.

amy 2 years ago

Well I just wanted to say how relieved I am to have read all of these posts. I did this today and I feel so guilty and ashamed and thought for sure I should be on meds or something. Nice to know that Im not alone. Thank you.

judith 2 years ago

When I yell at my daughter I feel so much guilt, pain, shame and regret inside. I go through the list of every time I fell short as a mother, every moment I wasn’t able to connect, I wasn’t able to understand her to meet her needs, every time I lost my cool and I begin to think that I am the worst parent in the world. But I’ve realized that this is counterintuitive and becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. You will make mistakes and your child will make mistakes in life no matter how “perfect” of a parent you are- so teach your child how to forgive herself through the example of forgiving yourself. I try as hard as I could to say over and over- ” I forgive myself and I’m going to try my hardest to progress in my parenting everyday.” That is it, you do the best you can, you devote yourself to being the best parent you can be with what you’re handed in life and you make mistakes all the time and keep forgiving yourself and you remind yourself that mistakes and all you are an amazing mother and human being.

Isabelle 3 years ago

Definitely don’t beat yourself up. I’m the mom of a 1 year old and it breaks my heart how much I love him. I have had moments where I loose my patience and regret it but at the end of the day it’s about the whole picture. It’s about doing the best you can…not about perfection. It’s about forgiving yourself and moving on and it’s about realizing that being a mom is an incredible gift that you have been blessed with. Whenever I snap and let my frustration get the best of me I always try to take a breathe and stand back and just let that moment go. Try not to judge it and remember that all things pass. Tomorrow is a new day!

Julie 3 years ago

I yelled at my daughter last weekend while at the mother in laws. … she was ignoring her father badly – kicking at the edge of a table. She threw toys downstairs and i got angry.
After picking up the toys and walking upstairs to her room,I asked her repeatedly to go and apologize to her dad. Eventually she did. At this time the mother in law was walking the dog outside. My daughter was smiling defiantly, and started to kick at her legs full temper tantrum. I saw red and shouted. When she calmed down and i had i said sorry to her and she was fine. we ended up sitting down and talked for a bit. When i left her room the house was silent – everyone had gone to bed.
The next morning my husband didn’t talk to me. When i confronted him he said his mum had heard me outside shouting at her she was worried that social services would take her away.
Am i wrong to think this is rubbish … This is the first and last time this has happened.
Moreover if i was too loud why didn’t anyone come in and stop me .. rather than just leave me?

Lynn 3 years ago

I lose my temper and yell in such a mean way. It hurts my little seven year olds feelings. I have found that the reason I get so exasperated with her and her three yr old sister
Is that after I’ve planned ahead and prayed and started out so well I expect it all to go perfectly but it’s never going to be “perfect.” When she can’t find her shoes and there’s 3 minutes left until we should be pulling out of the driveway I just lose it. She knows where they belong. But they’re not where they belong and on and on and on. You’ve got to make a quality decision that “losing it” is not an option. Consequences are an option. I could’ve made her wear another pair that are not allowed by her uniform standards. She would have gotten in trouble for having the wrong shoes on. Or I could’ve waited for her to find them which would make her late for school. Something she absolutely hates. I have learned that a sincere apology for behaving in a way I don’t want to behave always has great results with us. She accepts that I am human, she forgives me. I tell her I love her and appreciate her. I demonstrate my gratitude for her help or good work or thoughtfulness etc. We start over. Thank God it doesn’t happen often anymore.

Melody 3 years ago

I ran into this because this morning I yelled at my son, horrible, mean yelling, with cursing and frustration. He was wanting to take homework to school to do EXTRA work and I have been wanting him to practice counting. He does it perfectly in his head but when I write the numbers down he keeps looking at me for the answer. It’s like he doesn’t think when I’m around, and I can’t help but blame myself for that. So I got frustrated and told him he has to use the answer in his head, and I called him lazy for looking at me. Now that I’m calm, I think he wants to please me but I worry that if I’m not around he won’t be okay. I feel like the worst mom in the world, it’s just the two of us, he is my world and I feel this pressure to prepare him for the world. We usually talk everything out but some days, not everyday thankfully, just somedays he pushes me to the point where I start screaming, and I hate myself when I do that, I scream at him and he freezes up and just takes it. I always apologize, but I still hate myself, he always forgives me which I think makes me feel worse. I just wish I could see it coming so I could either calm down or find another way. I’m so worried he will hate me or resent me as an adult because I lost my temper.

Katlin 4 years ago

Oh my goodness this must be faith. I literally was talking to a friend last night about my posting July 2011. And here you posted today. First of all don’t beat yourself up. It happens. You seem like a very caring mom. But, stop worrying about what other people think about your daughter being shy. They probably have no opinion of it at all…and if they do, they are foolish. She’s a baby. She’ll come out of her shell. Her personality is what it is and there’s nothing wrong with. She’s not rude, she’s just comfortable with the people she knows and eventually her comfort zone will grow. She’s perfectly normal. And so are you by the way. Go hug and kiss her and tell her you’re sorry. Then take her for ice cream.

    Helen 4 years ago

    Thank-you Katlin for your response. She woke up from her nap and was her usual self. I made a promise to myself to never yell at her like that again….I have the best intentions to keep it!! She is a sweetheart….she is shy. I am going to accept that. Thanks again for your response :)

Helen 4 years ago

I yelled at my 24 month old today. I yelled at her because someone said hi to her and she buried herself in my lap and I could not get her to move. I am so frustrated…i take her to some kind of social gathering at least once a day. She has not improved even a bit. She is so happy and wonderful and chatty at home…as soon as she gets out she becomes mute. I was so embarrassed that when we came home I told her that if she does’t start saying hi to people I will never take her out again…not to the library or the mall or anywhere/ I screamed this at her three times. I feel so HOrrible. I feel like such a horrible mother. While the rest of you yelled when your kid did something naughty… I yelled at her for being anxious and shy. I feel like i have scarred her….probably made her even more anxious. I don’t know what to do. Somebody help me!

katie 4 years ago

I wish I could show this to my husband. I lost it the other day and yelled, not really at, but just yelled out loud in frustration when we were in the car, because my 1 1/2 yr old wouldn’t stop screaming. I told my my husband and now he thinks I am a horrible person to yell at an 18mo old. Am I?

Katlin 4 years ago

Honestly I really am not a yeller. I absolutely never hit. When people say a parent is easy going or the child needs to be toughened up, I laugh. Most of the parents I know that are strict, aren’t strict with values. My son is polite, kind, has manners, is responsible, goes to church, gets good grades, etc. He knows the difference between right and wrong. So I am strict, I’m strict about teaching him values. He’s a great kid and I haven’t had to really discipline him much. That’s why I felt so guitly when I lost it and really yelled. And guess what I was wrong. I let my son know that and I also let my son know that grown ups are wrong sometimes too. My advice to you LD is tell your husband that you are in charge of disciplining your son. I don’t mean get nasty, just make that a rule. I’m divorced and I’ll tell you if I ever dated, or got married again, I would not allow anyone to take over discipline or to treat him harsher than than I. if I don’t do it, why would I let anyone else do it? I don’t think your husband is a bad guy, people are just used to a certain way. You seem like a great mom so you obviously wouldn’t pick a bad guy to have around your son…I think you just have to lay a few ground rules down about the issue. And always explain to your son that grown-ups don’t always make the right decisions either. haha.

LD 4 years ago

Hi, I see this is an old thread but I hope someone is still around to chat on this topic! First of all, Ashley, I hope you get this message – my heart goes out to you! You sound like a precious child and there is no excuse for what your parents are doing. I hope you respond and I will check my email for any followup comments from you.
I wanted to say I’m glad this post was here because I have yelled at my son out of frustration but I always apologize and tell him it was NOT his fault that I did not control my anger and Mommy is working on it! If I can’t model for him self-control and taking responsibility/apologizing for when I don’t have self-control then who will show him? I am newly re-married and my new husband does not share this view. He has yelled at my son but then does not apologize and refuses to. He says my son needs to apologize first. He has actually gone so far as to say, “He started it!”. WOW. My son is 7 and this man is 51. Does anyone else think that the adult should give the good example? Or do you think that my son should “fear authority” more and be the one to apologize? Would love your thoughts on this.

ragemichelle 5 years ago

13 years ago, when my son was 10 years old I was SO fucking frustrated with him and SO angry that I attempted to rip one of his most beloved pokemon cards in two.

As it turns out, those cards are fairly resiliant and I didn’t tear it. On the other, I was so appalled by my childish and horrible behavior, that to this day THIRTEEN years later, just thinking about it makes me want to cry.

He didn’t deserve that and I am better than that behavior.

The point is, I can almost promise he has no memory of the incident. I will never forget it.

We all fuck up. It’s what we do afterwards that counts.

OH…and advice here. If anyone out there wants to destroy a pokemon card, I suggest fire. Ripping them is REALLY hard.


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