Helping Kids Gain Victory Over Venting
3 Steps to Calm, Cool, and Composed Hearts
Have you been in the grocery store shopping in an aisle when a little bomb (also known as an uncontrollable child) went off? Chances are you have, and perhaps it was even your child. I remember being in Costco with my two boys, probably ages one and three, when Torre, my oldest… who was generally compliant, decided that he was going to climb out of the stroller. I was in a hurry, I was in the back end of Costco, with the couple of items sitting on the top of the stroller, and I said calmly to Torre, “Honey, you may not get out of the stroller. We are in a hurry, and I need to get us back to the car.” He settled back in for as long as it took me to get back in position to push the stroller. Once again, I see a little leg stretching out for the floor. This was unusual behavior for him, so once again, I patiently explained to him that he needed to stay in the stroller, and once again, he leaned back and settled in. We probably moved 5 feet, when that little leg began to stretch out over the side. Now I’m feeling pushed. I told Torre in a tone of seriousness, “Torre, you must stay in the stroller, or you will be getting a discipline when you get home.” No sooner had the words left my mouth when the explosion began. Torre, in rare form wailed at the top of his lungs, “Momma, please don’t give me a discipline!! I don’t want a discipline! Please Momma, don’t discipline me!” I felt the blood rush from my face! I was mortified and (even back then) terrified!! I set the items aside, and you could have seen tire tracks from the back of Costco, out the door, through the parking lot and into my car. I had visions of people following me, getting my license plate number and calling social services! I can laugh through this now, but oh my goodness!! I can still feel the panic!
It is quite the experience to have a child lose it in the middle of a public setting when there is really nothing you can do… but maybe run! Lol! And the reasons for the explosions vary. The most common occurrence happens in a store where there are temptations everywhere, and they simply can’t have what they want. Hence… the temper tantrum. Right? So is it reasonable to just accept it, as today’s parenting culture teaches us? Should we just hope that those around us understand and are tolerant enough to deal with it? Two verses come to mind. The first, if you are a Training Heart’s mom, most likely popped into your mind:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
In other words, when our child becomes so self focused that he is venting because he is not getting what he wants, his eyes are on himself and he has failed to consider the people around him as more significant than himself. It is the biblically moral reason why we all choose to control ourselves, rather than freely spewing our wants, opinions and frustrations. The very best time to begin training self control in this area is when a child is very young. Young enough to understand simple words.
The second verse is found in Proverbs 29:11
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
As our child’s divinely ordained heart trainer, we simply cannot rely on the culture’s pressure to just accept the venting of “feelings”. We know we have a moral obligation to help our children to grow to become wise, well adjusted, capable, self controlled, and morally mature adults. And that starts as the song says, at the very beginning.
Let’s look at three steps in order to effectively train our children to be considerate of others, and wise enough to hold back the venting of feelings and temper tantrums.
Teach them about God and the truths of God’s word. If free venting is your child’s struggle, begin by walking him through these two verses above, explaining them on his level of understanding, and even helping him to memorize the verses. This is how we get God’s word into the hearts of our children. Only then will they have something significant and valuable to draw from when temptation strikes.
Remember, discipline is not a last resort. Waiting until “I’ve had enough” is the equivalent of waiting until I’ve been pushed to anger. At that point, we are no longer able to apply God’s plan for loving discipline, and should give ourself a time out! We should take time to read a portion of the word (I recommend Matthew 18) and pray until we remember that we are also sinning. Instead, we must realize discipline is God’s designated tool to help us understand and learn the great value of right moral choices so that we and our children can avoid the dangers of sin. When we understand this, we realize that discipline must be applied to sin…all sin, as this is the how the lesson is learned. We need to discipline our child’s sin with patience, and consistently to keep her heart from becoming hardened, and the mind enabled to understand the true value of right moral choices. We need to realize that discipline is not an act of anger (Never!), but a controlled, loving response to save our children from future pitfalls. The right perspective is the key to right and biblical discipline.
Do your parenting consistently at home, so you don’t have to do it in public. There will be many times that your child will fall to the temptation to vent in an ordinary day. You want to keep your eyes and ears open for these opportunities to train her heart, and never be so busy that you miss the moment, as training our children is the most important job in our day. Draw on what she knows, connecting the sinful behavior to the truth of God’s Word that you previously helped her store in her heart. Review or have her recite the verses she has been learning, and stir up her heart by asking her questions. “Honey, were you only considering yourself, or were you considering others in this home? Is it right or wrong to disrupt your whole family because you aren’t getting what you want? Are you being the wise man, or the foolish man right now? Let’s consider how Jesus sacrificed so much of his wants for all of us in this world. Honey, let's try to aim to be more like Jesus.” When you require her to answer your questions, you are helping her to take ownership of these truths, so that they guide and direct her in the future.
When you choose to apply these three biblical tools faithfully, you will see such a radical change in all the members of your family (including mom and dad :) ). You will begin to experience more peace in your home, and your children will respond more consistently in obedience. They will be far more content, living their lives happily and secure in the love of Mommy and Daddy who care enough to train them to be wise and self controlled. Remember to ask the Lord to help you be consistent in applying these truths. He wants your children brought up to godly maturity, even more than you do! You are not alone! He is leading you on this mission to train your little disciples to become more like Jesus.