Whether your words or actions have pushed your mother to the limit, you'll need to carefully navigate her storm of anger if you want to avoid punishment -- or at least reduce its severity. Your mom’s temperament has a lot to do with how you can handle the situation. For example, perhaps she’s a fireball who won’t soon forget your actions. On the other hand, maybe she’s quick to forgive and forget, and you can get off fairly easily. In either case, several strategies can help you get on her positive side again.

Step 1

Control your own emotions. You might be tempted to yell back or even retreat in anger, but it's important to keep your composure, otherwise you risk making your mother even angrier. Even if you have a rational explanation or excuse, save it for later, as there's no use offering verbal counters at the moment, suggests the Counseling Center at Eastern Washington University.

Step 2

Allow your mom to vent. This lets her burn off some of the anger. In addition, listen carefully, as her anger might be stemming from a deeper issue, rather than your latest actions. Feelings of anger often stem from a feeling of lack of control, suggests psychologist Tom Stevens. For example, she might be angry over the fact you took her car for a joyride, but her underlying feeling is concern for your well-being and her lack of control over your irresponsible actions.

Step 3

Show that you are listening. Use non-verbal cues such as maintaining eye contact and nodding your head. If there's a pause in her venting, use it to paraphrase what you think she is feeling or ask open-ended questions. For example, ask, "When did you first start feeling really frustrated?" or "Have I ever offended you in the same way before?" This will let her know you aren't just waiting for her rant to end -- you are genuinely curious.

Step 4

Explain yourself and apologize. Tell your mother what was going through your head when you committed the offending act. Perhaps you weren't thinking rationally or you were in a rush. In either case, you must offer her some kind of assurance that the problem won't resurface, asserts clinical psychologist Ryan Howes. Tell her how you'll better handle yourself next time.

Step 5

Return to loving gestures. Hug your mom, if she allows it. Give her a kiss on the cheek. Do something that shows her you understand her anger and you're interested in reconnecting. If she's still simmering in anger, make sure to return to this step later when she's calmer.