The Best Way to Stop a Tantrum in Its Tracks
You know that special ear-piercing noise your child makes when she’s about to throw a fit? Kind of like a tornado siren, it’s muted when she first opens her mouth but then it quickly winds up and blows out the vocal cords for every neighbor to hear. Then fists hit the floor and all drama ensues. (The kid’s and yours.)
Fun times, right?
I’ve watched this scene play out in my house countless times, and I know enough by now to realize I have a choice. I can:
(a) Scream back (tempting in the heat of moment, yes indeed)
(b) Lock myself in a bathroom (they always manage to find me)
(c) Blame Dad and make him handle it (if he’s home)
But what about another choice? A fail-proof option? Is there such a thing?
The Bible says there is.
It’s called a hug.
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8).
Instead of responding to a tantrum with a tantrum, what if we moms responded with affection?
What if instead of throwing up our arms and begging the Lord to gimme a break, here, pleeeease! we got on our knees with our child and prayed for God to help ease the heartache.
And what if rather than running from the flailing, we ran toward it and scooped that wild-eyed kiddo into our momma arms, squeezed tight, and whispered I will never let you go.
Even when she kicks. Even when he bites.
Even when their temper feels like it cannot be contained.
Why? Because that is what God does for us day in and day out, through our headaches and our hiccups, our homework projects and crock pot fails, through our leaky diaper disasters and our spousal arguments and our endless sleepless nights. Through every fit and frustration of family life, God wraps his arms around us and says, I’m here. I will never let you go.
I won’t leave you to do this thing alone.
I know it hurts sometimes. I know you’re mad. I know you’re cranky. You just want to thrash and cry and kick somebody and you don’t even know why. I get that.
But I’m not angry.
I have compassion for you.
I have grace.
Let me shower it on you now, okay?
Let me help you through.
Because I love you. Even when you act like this.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11).
When I finally figured out the best answer to a tantrum is love—I mean the gentle kind, not tough love (that’s an entirely different post)—I stopped dreading my children’s freak outs, and now I treasure them. Crazy, right? Oh don’t get me wrong, I still get frustrated. Tantrums are still inconvenient. They’re still too loud for my introverted ears. Yet now I see them for what they truly are.
Not a curse.
But rather an opportunity—to show my kids the unconditional love of God, and to wrap my arms around them while I still have the chance.
So. How will you handle the next tantrum thrown your way? If your kids are breathing then you know you’ll get to practice sooner than later. Maybe even today.
Bring it on, amen?
Let’s show our kids the crazy love of Jesus. I cannot wait for you to get started.
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