Editor’s note: Welcome back one of our repeating guest bloggers: Ginger Plowman.
A mom recently emailed me, desperate for a solution for handling tantrums. In reading her plea for help, memories flooded in of a certain little someone throwing tantrums when he didn’t get his own way or simply didn’t want to do something I had instructed him to do.
What’s a mom to do? Ignore the fit-thrower? Spank the fit-thrower? Fall out in the floor and throw her own tantrum? There were times when the latter was actually a temptation for me!
While there is really no right or wrong answer for handling this situation, as the Bible does not specifically address this issue, all I can do is tell you how we handled tantrums in the Plowman home. Because it seemed impossible to get through with verbal training in the midst of a tantrum (arms flailing, feet kicking, glazed over eyes), I would gently pick him up off the floor, deposit him in his crib in his room, calmly say, “You need to gain self-control,” then close the door and let him finish his tantrum alone with no audience. Keep in mind that staying calm, gentle, and loving in these moments takes much self-control on the part of the mommy!
Once he had calmed down, I would go in and say something like, “Sweetheart, when I say ‘no’ to something you want or tell you to do something you don’t want to do, it is disobeying when you throw a fit. I love you too much to allow you to disobey. It is important that you learn to obey and have self-control.” Then I would follow through with consequences, which, for two years old and older, was a spanking in our home. After the spanking, I would hold and hug him while he cried. However, some children do better to cry alone, in which case, it is wise to hold and hug after he/she has calmed down.
Again, it is not a biblical mandate that tantrums be handled exactly this way. This is just how we handled them in our home. Often, we as parents are at a loss when it comes to handling issues such as this. We want to do the right thing, but we simply lack the wisdom. How wonderful that we can ask God for wisdom (through prayer) in these areas and He promises to give it to us (James 1:5)! I can’t tell you how many times the first thing I prayed upon waking up in the morning was Lord, help me to be wiser than my children today!