I can’t believe how often I see adults throwing temper tantrums. They huff and they puff and they blow their cool right out the window. Something gets them emotional and they lose themselves while letting off steam.
They throw things, punch holes in the wall, slam doors, scream, cry, wring their hands together, hyperventilate, spew hate-filled words, and on and on and on.
So often, way too often, they do this in front of their kids. Or even because of them. One day their kids start doing it too and they wonder what the hell is wrong with them.
I used to do it. I learned it from my parents, and they from theirs. That’s why I’m so aware of how harmful it is. I didn’t know how to cope with my feelings once upon a time. I was afraid of my feelings so I lashed out when I felt…well, anything. When I got mad I yelled at whoever I thought angered me. When I was hurt I broke down and cried, or threw something and blamed the person who caused my pain. When I was sad I became practically catatonic, unable to function. When I was scared I panicked and catastrophized, transferring my fears into the hearts of my family. My loved ones.
This is what I began teaching my children, by example. I taught them to react when they’re upset. To let emotion dictate how they act, and treat others. To try to find relief from the pain they’re feeling by blaming others and wanting them to “fix it”.
As soon as I became aware of what I was doing I changed it. Not overnight though. Big, lasting change takes time, but I stuck it out. It was very important to me that my kids learn to take care of their emotional selves. I wanted them to be able to cope with all life throws at them, now and into adulthood. I didn’t want them to crumble every time they hit a bump in the road. There are so many bumps in the road! Besides, how many times can you lash out at someone before they can’t take it anymore? How many times do people inadvertently push their loved ones away because they don’t know how to deal with their own feelings?
After I taught myself, I taught my kids to go within when they feel bad. “Sit with your feelings,” I told them, “don’t push them away. Don’t try to make someone else responsible for how you feel, even if they did something “wrong” or said something you didn’t like. Deal with the emotion and then clarity will step in. Clarity will join hands with logic and together they will guide you to peace.”
This doesn’t mean they can’t go to their rooms and cry and scream and punch their pillows. As long as they’re not hurting anyone this is a good and healthy way to release stress. Once they get that out of their system they can go within.
Today, when I’m feeling down, I take myself out of my family’s way by telling them I’m going to meditate. When I come out of my room half an hour later, I’m so much happier. Sometimes, when I don’t realize I’m “in a mood” but they do, they send me to my room! I just love a “time out”.
Every time we feel bad we are given an opportunity to change and grow. Feelings teach you things, about yourself, about others, about how the universe works, etc. If we’re not changing we’re like a seed stuck in the mud, never getting to blossom into the beautiful flowers we are.
Teach your kids not to be afraid of their feelings. But do it by example.
Denise Barry is the author of the children’s picture books What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? and the soon to be released Soap On A Rope. She is also an inspirational writer whose work has been featured on various websites and in the best-selling book Watch Her Thrive: Stories of Hope, Courage and Strength. Denise lives in Buffalo, NY. Please visit her website at www.denisebarry.net