Tantrums can incite anxiety in any parent. But they’re no fun for children, either. So, take a proactive approach by talking about them during quiet, private family time such as while sharing a meal.
After finishing up their food, ask your child to close his or her eyes and focus on their stomach. What does it feel like? How does it compare to when he or she sat down before the meal?
Provide your child with a few moments of silent think time to focus on the physical feeling of being full. Emphasize the difference even further by encouraging him or her to gently tap on their fully belly. Explain that our hearts can feel full, too, such as when someone compliments us on a job well done or when we receive a hug from someone we love and trust.
But sadly, we can become full in another way, too — in a way that doesn’t feel good at all. Emotions and feelings are completely normal. But sometimes we can become so full of them — even overwhelmed with them — that they come spilling out of us in a way we can’t control. This is when a tantrum strikes. Like a volcano that explodes from the hot magma bubbling underneath, so can our feelings and emotions blow up and spew everywhere, causing us to feel like a mess, too. In short, we’re stuffed!
Share that the best way to avoid feeling emotionally “stuffed” is to find ways to get the feelings out. Brainstorm with your child ways he or she might be able to effectively do this. Ideas might include talking to someone they trust, praying, drawing pictures, or even just punching a pillow. Remind your child that even challenging emotions are completely natural and okay. Share that Jesus cried out loudly from emotions when He was here on earth, too! (John 11:35, Hebrews 5:7) But growing up means learning different ways to manage and express their emotions.
Close by challenging your child to try one — or a few — of these ideas the next time he or she feels the emotional magma bubble deep inside of them. Challenge them to let the steam off in other ways — and not allow the pressure to build like a volcano!
After completing this activity, read through the following verse and prayer with your child.
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears.
Hebrews 5:7 (NLT)
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to remember that You have put people in our lives to love, listen to, and support us. Help us to find ways to safely feel and sort through our emotions with Your help. Help us to lean on You.
In Jesus name, amen.