Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 062 Helping Children Handle Emotions
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #062 – Helping Children Handle Emotions
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed to be back with you to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
Before we start the podcast today, I’d like to mention the upcoming Who Is Carter Foundation third annual Gala fundraiser on April 9th at 6:00 PM. The Brain Possible Podcast is fully funded and operated by this wonderful, nonprofit organization. Who Is Carter would love for you to be there in person or online! Your support at the gala ensures the ability to continue to bring you their podcasts, resources, and more into the coming year. There are two ways to attend: If you live in the Kansas City area, attend in person at The Bardot Luxury Event Space at 1616 Grand Avenue in Kansas City, MO. There will be great food, an inspiring program, live music, and unique auction items such as a stay at the Ritz Carlton, Cancun or a Guatemala fishing resort trip, and even a VIP meet-and-greet with Chiefs’ wide receiver Tyreek Hill! Of course, every available COVID-19 precaution will be in place to ensure the safety of everyone in attendance.
If you don’t live in the Kansas City area, or are more comfortable staying in, you can join the activities virtually! Tune in online on the evening of the 9th; you’ll even have full access to bid on silent auction items online! Visit whoiscarter.org/gala for more information and to purchase tickets. This wonderful organization I have mentioned on the podcast before looks forward to being with you on April 9!
Thank you for considering attending the Who Is Carter Foundation Gala. Now, on to this episode about helping our children manage emotions. By the way, this topic was suggested to me by my youngest child, who has experienced that having the assistance of loving parents to help her learn proper behavior and emotional control is one of her biggest blessings. Each of us, who are living, continue to grow in the Lord’s wisdom and grace daily as works in progress.
Who hasn’t witnessed a mother dealing with a stressed, emotional child in public? Everyone has probably empathized with either the child or mother at one time or another. Here’s an important question.
Have you been that mother?
I have. It was one of the most embarrassing situations I have encountered. However, after the wave of humiliation passed, I felt desperate and helpless to control the situation. Next, I was empowered by realizing the truth that what my child deals with is not the business of anyone else. Strangers don’t know or understand the complexity of what my child has lived and I do not have to explain anything. Helping my child should be the very first thought that guides me.
When most parents see that their child is uncomfortable or hurting, we immediately want to make things better. Emotions are complicated and tricky; they don’t usually get resolved quickly or easily. Humans are unique and complex.
Emotional outbursts can occur for a variety of reasons.
Many adults have not learned to manage feelings. Children, especially those who have come from hard situations or who have special needs, must be coached on appropriate behavior and have suitable emotional release modeled for them.
On the second day we had our youngest daughter, we went to the hotel restaurant to partake in the enormous breakfast buffet served daily. On that day, I was carrying our tiny girl, who looked the absolute picture of innocence in the silky pastel pink dress and tiny jeweled sandals that the orphanage had given her to come to us in. Later, after she learned English and was able to converse with us, she told me she loved that dress and shoes so much because it was the only fancy dress someone had ever given her and the only pair of shoes that were truly hers alone.
As we walked into buffet hall full of people filling their plates with almost anything you can imagine, our child, who signified the illusion of angelic charm and temperament decided she couldn’t cope anymore. Hunger was surpassed by raw fear. Screams so primal and megaphone loud emerged and turned every face our way.
Our daughter struggled to break free of my grasp, her satiny dress hurrying her escape as I could not keep hold of her squirming body as it was fueled and strengthened by terror. Since I was in a foreign city, didn’t speak the language, and what seemed like every disapproving face in the room was on us, getting back to the safety of our hotel room was the only option that seemed attainable.
When a child acts out there is an underlying reason.
As parents, we are privileged to be the detective that puts pieces of their unique puzzle together. Helping our child find the best way to mature with godly attitude and actions is one of the important responsibilities God has allowed us.
Emotions, whether from an adult or a child, are a reaction to something we feel, think, or experience. We all need to release emotions, but when they are wildly discharged, with all control lost, it is what I call a “melt down.” The only permanent and healthy way to reduce or eradicate these is by identifying the trigger.
Parents, as well as children, have to understand that emotions and triggers must eventually be realized and released.
Some people naturally discern this and it actually helps us process. I sometimes don’t care whether I have a conversation with myself or another person; I just need to understand and let go of what I am feeling so that I can take the next step. Most of the time, I don’t need input; I just need to have that time to speak thoughts and put my plan into place, so to speak.
Other people find it difficult to express what they are going through. Sometimes they don’t yet understand, or maybe they are very private and are not ready to expose that area yet. Often, our children need to be trained to be able to talk. When this is the case, the first way we prep them to acquire the ability to release their feelings is by listening. I have learned over the years that my first response when someone expresses problems or difficulties is to try to make them feel better. If you are like this, many times, this type of response has the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve because we are not validating what they are feeling. Instead of helping our child, we may be perceived as covering up what they are trying to express, of ignoring their feelings, or of not hearing what they are saying. Listening without speaking, then validating or repeating back how they feel goes a long way toward helping our child feel comfortable in expressing more of what they think and how they feel. We are enabling them to process at the same time as we are also building a stronger connection with them.
As we listen, we show empathy by maintaining eye contact. Show your child you care by stopping other activities and allowing undivided attention to be your gift to them. Acknowledge their pain, loss, or whatever feeling they are sharing. Help if you are able, in the ways they need. Remember that even if what they share is hurtful to you, their emotions are not about you. Your child is entitled to their feelings. After they have shared, ask to pray together and allow God to work through both of you. Your child was gifted to you by God, who never makes mistakes. He allowed them to be yours for the time you are both on earth. You are not good or capable enough to raise this tiny human on your own. Ask God to show you and gift you with the ability to allow Him to work through you to reach the needs your child has and to enable them to flourish in their relationship with God and you. As God works in your child, He will create a good work in you, as well.
It is so easy for the reactions of children to create triggers in parents. When we brought our youngest home, it would have been easy for our relationship to turn sour. I am incredibly thankful I did not attempt to parent her when I was much younger. God, in His perfect timing allowed me to be with her when I was much older and hopefully a little more filled with God’s wisdom. The meltdowns that lasted for hours are not something easily handled in my own strength. I truly had to allow God to work His grace, love, and understanding through me in ways that I can only explain as supernatural. Her pain was not a reflection of me or my husband, but had to do with all that she had and was experiencing. Without knowing our language, communication was challenging, yet God reminded each of us that a smile, laughter, and music is universal. Through Him, we found ways to make feelings known and develop connection.
Nowadays, it is popular for mothers to express the need for self-love and care. Through my experience, I have come to believe that instead of focusing on the “self” part, we should direct our desires and needs to the Lord. He alone can fill the intimate needs we carry and enable us to love in the ways our child desires. Most people need some alone time. Many people crave people, and need lots of them around, but others, like me, need down time. Through making time to reflect on God’s words and truths and to allow those to process our emotions, feelings, and needs, then pray for God’s guidance, our outlook can reflect what God would want our heart and mind to inhabit, then enable Him to shine from us. However, I don’t care for the “me” culture that has permeated our society. Time alone with wine, craving others instead of family, and needing more and more solitude leads to hurt and bitterness. There must be a balance. As we focus on our personal needs in godly ways, we allow ourselves to find the best methods to personally cope and function when life inevitably throws curves and bumps.
Remember that when dealing with an out of control child (or adult), we sometimes need to walk away for a cooling off time. Or we need to allow our child to have one. I don’t send my child away for a time out; I keep her near. When she came home, the only thing she needed when she was unable to express emotions was to have me silently sit with her. While all I wanted to do was talk and help her get through the pain, she needed quiet time to express what she was feeling through tears, yet desperately wanted me with her, no matter how long her crying spells took.
Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
As I shared, sometimes our children need ample time to process emotions as we sit in the pain with them. Silently. I have learned through the years that each child is different from each other – and from me. Thank God for making each of us so uniquely, however, we must respect that individuality. One of my four children takes time with any question. This child needs time to express what they think without a word from me. I have learned that usually about the time I think they are not going to respond because it seems so long to me, they are just beginning to speak. Over the years, I have been so grateful that God has taught me to hold my tongue. Responses and thoughts this child has expressed have been beyond what I thought they would say and filled with wisdom and love. Had I interfered and not given the time they needed to process, deep connection and bonds would have been destroyed.
James 1:19-20 says, “My beloved brothers, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires.”
When our youngest came home, she had never experienced true family life or connection. Besides not knowing our language, she was uneducated and did not have the slightest idea of how to express what she was thinking or feeling inside. Relaying stories of other children (such as myself or my husband, even made-up stories) and how they cope or resolve situations, reading books, and drawing pictures on paper or a whiteboard helped her to understand that feelings such as anger, sadness, happiness, joy, confusion, and more are real and necessary for everyone. Our precious girl also began to understand that each of these emotions are gifts in that we are able to feel and experience life so uniquely. The key is in learning to name, handle, and express them appropriately.
We also acted out emotions and situations, made “choose the best answer worksheets” about how to express emotions and make wise choices, made expressive faces in the mirror and identified them with each other, and practiced observing and identifying emotions in the faces and actions of other people.
One of the best investments I have is making the commitment to play with my girl daily. Our goal is to begin each day playing together, unless we have to go somewhere special such as church or a doctor appointment, etc,. I make sure to ignore my phone during that period of time and devote my attention to whatever she wants to play. This proves that my daughter is worthy of my time and attention. It also allows me an excellent opportunity to observe and experience her attitude, words, reactions, and interests every day. I am able to see if something seems to be bothering her as she unintentionally makes the toys we play act things out. Honestly, this time usually enables her to work through whatever is occurring in her heart and mind. I have found this to be the absolute best gauge of her feelings and something that has enabled us to connect in a deeper way as we grew our relationship together.
If you notice that your child has outbursts during play time with you or others, calmly speak to them and model the type of behavior they need to acquire. If your child seems to be detached or unable to respond, use patience and empathy to help them see your acceptance of and love for them despite their behavior. If you feel you need outside professional help, seek a Christian counselor who specializes in working with children.
An important note to remember is that children, as well as many adults, are most likely not able to process or control our emotions when we are upset. However, we must teach our child that we can choose and model how we respond to others when they are upset.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Through the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we can continue to work through and toward what is right for our child and ourselves, in God’s eyes.
Remember Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Another important fact to remember and teach our child to trust is that our thoughts and feelings do not always carry truth.
Feelings, thoughts, or emotions we express come from what we store in our heart. So do our responses to those attitudes.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
When we are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit inside us desires to do good work. As we draw nearer to God and seek His wisdom and strength, He will enable us to discover what is controlling our emotions, attitudes, and actions as He helps us react as He calls.
How do we learn to handle emotions in a biblical way? God’s Holy word, the Bible helps us deal with and overcome ungodly or difficult emotions.
Earlier I spoke of one of the best investments I’ve made with my youngest. When speaking of investments, the one that tops the value list is definitely sharing Jesus and spending time in His word together, as well as praying together daily.
Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
We must learn to do the following:
1. Take issues to God. Don’t leave Him out of our life. As your children see you depend on God and handle your emotions and reactions in godly ways, they will also learn to do the same.
2. Pray. Spend time alone with God and also pray with your child.
3. Quote scripture. When you are having a difficult time, it always helps to remember and rely on scripture. What did Jesus do when he was tempted? He quoted scripture. Simply spouting scripture is not the key. Living a life that seeks to know Jesus intimately and letting Him flow from within us is what captures the heart of our children for Him.
4. Becoming or remaining active is always very helpful. God designed our bodies for physical activity to help manage emotions, make us strong, and keep us healthy. We also experience enjoyment when we find a physical activity we like. Perhaps you and your child can experience an activity together, or you may use one to enable you to use that time alone to fuel up to prepare for the demands your personal life entails.
5. Friends are also another way to help us relax and energize. God created us for fellowship.
6. Knowing which triggers to avoid is always wise. Often, time alone with personal reflection and prayer can help us identify the areas in which we need to focus and grow.
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Methods to use with our child benefit them, while also growing and stretching us in new ways as we also become more pleasing to God and more appreciative of what we have been entrusted by Him.
1. Role play, as well as some of the tips I mentioned earlier in the podcast episode can be an important and fun way for your child to learn and grow.
2. Study Bible scripture and practice memorizing and or writing scripture together. Make it fun and personal to the interests of you and your child. Write in sand, on white boards, in special journals, on Playdoh; whatever the two of you will remember and enjoy is perfect.
3. Teach God’s word and His views on the condition of our heart.
4. Practice controlling your emotions and reactions. Observe your self through the heart and eyes of God’s eternal perspective. Remember that everything you model may be accepted and repeated by your child.
5. Practice attachment with your child. Make time to know them and show them how important they are to you. Find their personal love language and make time to spend together doing the activities they enjoy most.
6. Always find natural ways to bring God into your times together. God is not a separate compartment of our life. He is the air we need to survive. Your child also needs to learn to turn to Him first and allow God to regulate emotions.
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Remember that God desires our success with His children. Nothing is more pleasing or honoring to God than laying our trials and burdens at His feet and mentoring our children to do the same. As we allow Him to create a good work through us, we will be more equipped to create a lifetime of precious memories with children who seek Him, allow Him to work through them, and help them craft godly coping skills and reactions.
Father God, how we need You. Nothing we attempt on our own is remotely good or acceptable. Only through You are we able to grow a life that models Your light. Help us to manage our emotions, thoughts, feelings, and reactions in godly ways that honor and please You, then model and mentor our children in ways that are even higher and closer to what You desire. Help us to seek You every moment so that clinging to You is a natural response for our children. In Your precious name we pray. Amen.
Thank you for listening to this episode. I pray you find the peace and hope only Jesus can deliver through the words in each episode. Please visit terrihitt.com to access podcast episodes housed in one convenient location, read blog posts, transcripts, and access additional resources designed to mature your walk with Jesus through an eternal perspective and encourage you to raise or influence children to choose Christ over culture.
I’m thrilled to share that my latest free resource, “Scattering Seeds: Planting Character and Faith in Your Child” has released! This eBook is an excellent encouragement and support for mothers or grandmothers of young children. I encourage you to visit my website to access and download it soon.
I pray this podcast draws you nearer to God and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up while focusing on ways to Live With Eternal Perspective.