Staying Calm in a Chaotic Situation

!!The power of overreacting!!

For years it has irritated my husband and me how kids’ television shows promote this idea of escalated feelings. You hear such things like the following: Oh, no, what will we do! We have a really big problem.  Really?  What are we talking about here? I realize these shows are trying to promote critical thinking and problem-solving, but kids need perspective, not panic.  They need to recognize that much of what life hurls at us isn’t cause for a nervous breakdown.

Our children have a tendency toward the dramatic. Although their personalities are vastly different, their defiance plays out with extravagant tirades and tears and slamming doors.  Now, although I don’t slam doors—usually—I was beginning to see some of the same reactions from myself mirrored in my children. I’d tell them to calm down and be kind to one another, but how often was I actually exhibiting patience with them? Was I taking my own advice to count to ten, breathe, pray before I spoke, etc. or was I just rushing in like a mad woman ranting? Was I screaming, “Quit yelling” in all its thunderous irony?

In Parenting Your Powerful Child, Dr. Kevin Leman encourages parents to analyze how they respond to their child’s behavior. “One of the biggest responsibilities of a parent is to be that circuit breaker that controls all the power surges in the family. If you overreact (this is especially true of firstborns), your child will overreact.”1  For some reason, there was a disconnect between my actions and theirs, because, of course, it makes so much sense to yell, “Be quiet. Calm down!” For years, I held my kids to a higher standard of control than I placed on myself. This realization brought the pain needed to change.

Biblically speaking, we aren’t promised health and wealth. In fact, the opposite is true.  We are guaranteed a hard time on this Earth (John 16:33); why would we have it any different than our Lord and Savior did?  Our goals for our kids are to protect them from the world until they have a firm foundation of truth established. We disciple them and train them for war and then we let them loose on the battlefield. We want them to have a godly filter that says, “nope, that’s not right” but “this is”. We want them to learn what it is to love people—all people—and to serve as the Lord served, sacrificially. We want them to spread the Good News, but before they can do that, they have to know what the Gospel is. And before they can disciple, they must first be discipled. Jesus chose 12 grown men to be His disciples, but He didn’t just say, “Here’s the message. Go out and preach.” He asked them to “follow me” and taught them what the truth was.  He poured into them for three solid years, teaching, training, loving, rebuking, and preparing.

Our kids know that they have a safe place to fall at home, even if their parents aren’t perfect—which they already fully see.  They know that it’s “not about them” as we often tell them. And regardless of what they are feeling, they do have a choice in how they respond. They have a choice to turn their anger into mercy, their fear into trust, and their frustration into joy.  Through God’s power within us, we can use our human frailty to be strong in Him.

When they are dealing with all the garbage the world will dump on them, they need to recognize their own controlling card—their attitude.  Put the gloves on, grab the trash bags, and see what you can do with this mess. Don’t expect someone else to do it for you and don’t expect it to just go away on its own. Seek the Lord, “What would you have me do now?” Seek His strength and then do it.

(Taken from Navigating a Sea of Emotions: How Our Emotions Impact Our Children

Navigating a Sea of Emotions by [Hanley, Kristin L]

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