When you have children in your house, you have a lot of emotions in your house. Emotions can flare over the most mundane things (the wrong color cup) or the largest of things. Especially in the early years, it can feel like temper tantrums and fits seem to rule the day! It’s obvious that self-control is a characteristic that is yet to be fully developed in our littles.
And while one of our tasks is to help our children understand and grow in self-control in their lives, I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking recently about what self-control of emotions looks like in my life.
When my children are throwing the inevitable temper tantrums, am I throwing one likewise? When siblings are squabbling, do I squabble with them? When hands are rough, are my hands equally rough? When someone is screaming, do I scream in return?
It’s easy to find ourselves acting as though we’re entitled to “better-behaved” children, feeling frustrated and caught off-guard by fits rather than expecting them. I can catch myself expressing things such as, “this is so unfair,” or, “after all I’ve just done, you’re _____?”
Yet I know that the culture of our home shifts when I prepare my heart for a messy day; when I anticipate that siblings will squabble, and tantrums will ensue, and disobedience and rudeness will present itself many times over. I’m preparing myself not to simply resign myself (well, I knew it would happen today), but rather that my heart may move toward my children in love. Because I am expecting these things, I am not frustrated, annoyed, caught off guard; I’m ready and willing to instruct, love, redirect, discipline, and support.
Not only do I foresee this calming the culture of my house, but I know that it will provide a safer place for my children to be children. I’ve noticed that sometimes when my 3-year-old is throwing a fit, she is beyond herself- you can almost sense that she doesn’t want to be caught up in her screaming, but she simply cannot calm down. As she feels incredibly out of control, I want her to know that mama is still in control; she can be all of her messy, crazy, out-of-sync self with me, and I will remain safe. I will help her and calm her and not let her dictate my own responses. Although our children may try (hard!) to manipulate us, I sense that if their manipulation is always succeeding, they will feel unsafe and insecure.
Maintaining self-control as a mom is no easy task. I’m certain I fail miserably most days (or most hours of the day!). It is SO hard to not let my babe’s emotions affect my own emotions; it is so hard to remain calm when the world feels like it’s whirling in chaos around me. And yet, I know it’s worth striving toward, and on the days (moments!) when I fall short, to grab the equally important opportunity— the opportunity to apologize, admit to my mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. What a beautiful way to redeem the moments that got away.
Thinking of you, mamas, as you enter another day of chaos and swirling emotions! May you strive towards being that calm, safe space for your children; and may your house hear a lot of “I’m sorry’s” when we fall short.
How are you at managing your own emotions when the emotional state around you is anything but calm? What has worked for you as you interact with the chaos of emotions in your day?