Dealing with someone who is angry can be a challenge to your own ability to control your emotions. If that angry person is your mother, you might feel even more emotionally affected. This attachment can prevent you from attempting to help your mother calm down, but you might be the only person who knows her well enough to say the right words. Success in calming down an angry mother is a combination of maintaining a calm demeanor and actively listening while she expresses her feelings.
Acknowledge your mother's feelings without feeling as if you are obligated by your relationship to be a proverbial punching bag for her. Avoid taking responsibility for her anger, unless of course, you are the person who legitimately caused her to become angry. If not, acknowledge that she feels angry, avoid being judgmental and remain respectful, suggest the experts at the Counseling and Psychological Services at Eastern Washington University, in the online publication, "Defusing Anger in Others." Avoid attempting to talk your mother out of her feelings, regardless of whether you think she has a genuine reason to be angry.
Implement verbal and nonverbal approaches in an attempt to deescalate your mother's anger. When your mother is upset, it's easy to get caught up in her heightened emotions, raise your voice and feel angry yourself. Doing exactly the opposite by maintaining a moderate tone, open posture and neutral facial expression can encourage your mother to do the same. Remind yourself to relax as much as possible while your mother processes and vents her anger. Avoid clenching your fists or jaw, but don't smile, which can suggest that you aren't taking her feelings seriously.
Use Active Listening skills to clarify and reframe your mother's feelings. Active Listening is a therapeutic approach used by counseling professionals; its primary goal is to validate without interjecting judgment or solutions. Accomplish Active Listening by using "I" statements to encourage discussion; for example, saying, "I feel like you're angry at dad for forgetting your birthday," acknowledges feelings without accepting guilt or responsibility. Let your mother express herself and paraphrase what she says to show that you are listening and interested in what she is communicating.
Work with your mother to identify one or more solutions. The problem may never achieve resolution, and both you and your mother need to understand that this is okay. You can, however, help your mother make changes that may help reduce the impact of whom or what is making her angry. If your mother appears to be struggling with formulating a solution, use a presumptive statement to help direct her to consider your suggestions, explains psychologist John R. Schafer, Ph.D. in 2011 in "Psychology Today." Suggesting to your mother that: "I can see how dad's forgetfulness has made you angry; do you think writing important dates on his calendar might help?" can help her think more clearly about solutions.
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