By Sarah Evans
Tantrums can happen at any age.
A toddler tantrum will look different from an adolescent tantrum, but the essence is the same: confusion and/or frustration about what is expected of them (not fully understanding what they need to do and/or not wanting to do what they need to do).
Whatever the reason for the tantrum behavior, our children are trying to communicate something to us, but do not know how to do it in a calm way, we as parents need to be a good role model, and show them a better way.
“He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a quick temper displays folly” (Proverbs 14:29)
During a storm, our primary role as parents is to be the lighthouse: just as the Lord is our ‘place of safety’ in times of trouble, in the same way we need to be this for our children. And so, when our children are having a tantrum we need to: ACT CALM.
No matter the challenge we are facing with our children, we need to remember the following:
- Be the calm in the storm (even if you don’t feel like it)
- Show a calm body on the outside (even if you feel like panicking on the inside)
- Keep the volume of your voice low and steady (even if you feel like screaming)
- Keep your words to a minimum: When children are under stress (having a tantrum), they do not ‘hear’ well, and process what is being said at a much slower rate. Use short and simple sentences during this time.
- Take some ‘time out’: Give your child ‘space’ to calm down and tell them “when you are calm we will talk about this”. Take some ‘time out’ away from your child, to calm down, to pray and to think about your next move. This will stop you from reacting impulsively and doing/saying something inappropriate.
When we act calm (regardless of how we feel), we send the message to our children that we are in control (and that we care enough for them to take the wheel). This helps them to feel safe and reassured, and that even though they are in a storm…it is going to be OK.
Isn’t that what we like to hear from our Heavenly Father when we are in the midst of a storm? “It is going to be OK?”. Imagine what would happen if we heard God say “Oh No! This is terrible! What are we going to do?” This would cause us to panic and drown in our own inadequacies.
However, when we know that God is in control of our storm, we are able to feel safe and reassured because He is there to help calmly guide us through. Our children need for us to do the same for them. When we can be the lighthouse (a calming influence), the storm will settle more quickly in our homes, and there will be less long-term ‘storm damage’ (pain caused by hurtful words and/or actions).
I believe some of you are asking “What do I do after I have taken some ‘time out’ to calm down?This is a good question. I will continue sharing on this topic next week, and will provide you with the next step. In the meantime, practice ‘acting calm’ during one of your children’s tantrums and you will see that something as simple as this makes a huge difference. Ask God to help you. I know that, with His help, you can do it!
“Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:28-30)
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