Parenting: How to Deal When You’ve Overreacted and Over-punished

Your kids are running around acting like maniacs and just won’t listen. You’re at the end of your rope and in frustration you yell out, “you just lost your ipad for 2 weeks”. They start wailing louder and stomp away, and then it hits you. What have you just done?

You just handed out a punishment that you will never be able to follow through on. How do you turn this around, without looking like you didn’t follow through on your words which, as you know, is very important when it comes to parenting.

I’ve fallen into this trap more times than I’d like to admit, but I’ve figured out a way to get around my knee jerk reaction while maintaining my word.

First thing, let the situation cool down and hold to your punishment for a day or even two. At that point, go to your child and talk about the situation. Discuss what happened, and why it upset you so much. It doesn’t have to be a big huge discussion with fancy words, but a simple, “I was angry because you weren’t listening to me and we had stuff to get done”, or whatever would be appropriate.

Let your child know that you feel upset with yourself because you overreacted and that you should’ve handled the situation differently. You will probably be surprised at how the kids react to you being apologetic and vulnerable. Truth be told, they need to see that. They need to see you acknowledge your mistakes. They need to see you apologize and make things right.

I then ask the kids what they think a fair punishment would’ve been for what they had done? We discuss it and come to a resolution together. More often than not, it ends with “you can have your ipad back tomorrow, if you vacuum the family room now”, or “you can have it back today if you play with your little brother without fighting for the rest of the day”. Whatever it is, they were a part of the process and are now responsible for upholding their end of the deal. If they don’t, the original punishment can go back into place.

I always end by telling them that I’m sorry for getting so angry, and that I hope we don’t end up in that place again. They are always just as apologetic, and more often than not, follow through with their end with little to no issue.

It’s okay to lose it sometimes but the most important lesson is shown in how you fix it or turn it around. Don’t ever feel like apologizing to your children is selling out, that in itself is a life lesson that will serve them well.

Grace and humility aren’t easily taught, but they are easy to model. Don’t let these moments pass you by Mama’s, they are always watching you.


April is the Mom to Many. She has been a foster parent for over 16 years and has parented 40+ children. Her Mom journey has had many super highs, just as many super lows but a whole lotta fun and a whole lotta learning. She has a slight obsession with Starbucks, rainbows and the occasional unicorn. You can find her blogging at This Moms Got Something to Say, that is when she's not grocery shopping or doing laundry for her massive crew