He threw himself down on the floor once again because he wasn’t getting what he wanted. I wouldn’t let him get a new toy because he purposefully broke his other one or maybe it was because I told him to brush his teeth or he decided he wanted to watch TV instead of do homework or he didn’t want to eat the dinner I had cooked. It all runs together some days. It is hard work being a parent. Trying to be strong and not give in because you know it is the right thing to do but your head and heart are playing tug-of-war because you just want the crying and yelling and fist pounding to stop. NOW. Because you aren’t sure how much more you can take before you break.
I get it, mama and daddy. I really do.
It’s not my favorite place to be either.
I just want smiles and hugs and happy faces. But that’s not life. We get the bad with the good and the lumps with our sugar. It is necessary for growth for us all. Imagine what would happen if we constantly gave in? If we did not teach them these hard lessons?
What kind of adults would they grow up to be?
I am not sure what kind of childhood you had. My sister and I grew up learning the right and wrong way to act. We were taught love, self-discipline, about Jesus, and everything made us into the wonderful adults that we are today. I didn’t get coddled when I threw a fit out in public. I got in trouble. Sometimes we even got spanked. I know, I know. That’s not something we are supposed to talk about anymore, but, it is the truth and I turned out absolutely fine. We got smarter about things as we grew older and would stay in our bedrooms to argue instead of in the room with our mom. We thought she didn’t know, but, she really did. Sometimes she just let us work it our on our own, and other times she intervened.
All our daddy had to do was sit down next to us and just look at us for us to break out in tears.
We have instilled in our son and our big girls that we love them. The girls don’t throw the tantrums like he does because they are both nearly grown (be still my heart) which is why this is focusing on him. We love them all when they are good. We love them all when they are not so good. There is nothing that any one of them can ever do that will change the fact that we will always love them. We want them to make good choices so we have to teach them right from wrong even if we feel like a broken record. We tell them, “We love you to the moon and back forever and always and then some no matter what,” and we mean it.
It doesn’t matter how many times the youngest has thrown a tantrum. It will never change the fact that we love him. No matter what. I also fully believe that strong-willed, stubborn, headstrong attitude is going to one day take him places we can only dream about right now.
Yes, I prefer the good times, but I have to remind myself that he is young and he is learning. God is going to use that stubbornness one day to change someone’s world. He already is. You see, it isn’t always about the right here and now. There are times it can be, but many times it’s not even about us or about them. Sometimes it is about the people that will someday be impacted by us, our child, our grandchildren. Wow, what a thought.
Yes, I may cry in the bathroom or eat a bunch of chocolate to try to soothe my hurt heart and ask myself over and over and over, “Why?” but never truly having any other answer other than it is what is is and it is okay.
As parents, we aren’t required to give them every single thing they want. We can get them something they want every once in a while. We are required to give them what they need. And sometimes teaching them the difference comes with a little bit of pain and suffering, but it is temporary. One day you will want even these moments back.
So find some joy in them. I know, you just chuckled and now you think I am crazy.
But be happy that your child feels comfortable enough with you to express himself or herself in such a way.
They know that no matter what they do you are not going to stop loving them.
And that, my friends, is amazing.
It is that childlike faith the bible talks about. God is going to love us no matter if we have a good day or a bad day. He is going to protect us, be there for us, lead us, guide us, wipe our tears, kiss our boo-boos, and so much more. It is up to us to listen. It is up to us to heed His warnings, soak in His words, and apply what He teaches us. He will always forgive us and wrap us in His arms. No matter what we do. He has felt every single feeling you are feeling and have felt. He gives us peace and comfort. He is a good, good Father. The best Father that ever existed, and you are His child if you have accepted Him. He gives us what we need, as well as the desires of our heart that line up with Him. He loves us to the moon and back forever and always and then some more than we could ever fathom. And even I throw spiritual and physical tantrums sometimes so why should I expect more out of a young child than what I am willing to give?
Do you feel the conviction in that? I do. I cannot expect him to act right all the time when I don’t. I get mad and upset and my feelings get hurt. Sometimes I go for walks and other times I let those hurt feelings slip right on out through my mouth. It is our job to train up a child. If we want them to start making better decisions, we must lead by example.
Here are a few ideas that can be a help to adults and children.
- Pray and read the bible. We do a devotional every night in our home. We also do a lot of praying. I find myself up in the middle of the night praying a lot and putting oil on my doorways and on foreheads. I have often laughed wondering how many times he and my husband have gotten up the next morning and wondered what that was and where it came from. But in and through prayer are where the greatest changes take place.
- If you feel a tantrum brewing (I can always tell even days before one is brewing), maybe ask your child or tell them to take a few minutes to cool off or that you need a few minutes to cool off. Let’s be honest. We sometimes get angry during these moments and it can render our actions or words ineffective. Taking a few minutes to cool off before dealing with it is not a bad idea. You can simply tell your child, “I am really upset right now and need to cool off. We will talk about this in ______ minutes.” Set a timer. Go for a walk. Have them sit on their bed. Let them go for a walk. And reconvene after the timer goes off. Give them the freedom to say the same, but in a respectful way. There are some situations that this will not apply to that need to be handled immediately, and I totally get that.
- Tell them you are going to give them 5 seconds to get it all out of their system. You are going to (slowly and as calmly as possible) count to 5. When you get to 5, they need to be done with their fit. If not, there will be extra consequences.
- If you are at home, you can tell them it is too much of a disruption for inside the house and send them outside. Sometimes the lack of an audience makes it stop.
- Ignore it. As hard as it is, sometimes, if we are where we can (you be the judge), not acknowledging the tantrum and not letting it disrupt what you are doing may be enough to stop it.
- Give them a choice. You can either stop doing this or you will lose ________ privileges for _____ amount of days. I have found that sometimes them being given a choice (especially the really stubborn ones) makes a difference. Not always, but sometimes.
- Set a timer for ____ amount of time. They have 10 minutes to get their room clean. If it is not clean by the time the timer is done, ____________________ will happen. Our’s will do his best to beat that timer.
- Have a better argument…not just lots of words. We have all been guilty of talking to our kids and going to town with all these great thoughts knowing that they tuned us out not even a minute into it and their eyes glazed over. And sometimes it is okay to make them sit there even if they aren’t listening to make you feel better. But, get on their level with what you are saying so that some of it sinks in and doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other.
These will not always work. They have helped with us, but I will be honest, I am not as consistent with them as I should be. I want him to have the freedom to express his feelings, but I want to teach him the right way to do so which often requires a little more effort on my part. You are the parents. You know your child better than anyone so you know what will or will not work. I don’t have any degrees that mark me as an expert. I just have learning experience and on-the-job training.
We are raising warriors for God’s kingdom. We need to properly train them for battle. Having the ability to yell at people and slam our fists down isn’t always going to win the war…even if it sometimes temporarily feels good.
And know that there’s also plenty of grace for big people and little people fits when they happen, because they will, and that’s okay.
Let’s grow together. Use the comment form to share what creative discipline ideas you have or funny stories to possibly be featured in a future post!