Temper Tantrums - An Opportunity to Teach Your Child How to Process Emotions
The Latin word for emotion is emovere, which means movement. Suppressing an emotion prevents the natural movement of vital energy or "chi" as it is referred to by the Chinese. As Karol Truman says in her book by the same title, "feelings buried alive never die." Denying and resisting what you feel only makes things worse because the emotions that need to move through you are then stored or "stuck" in your cells where they will demand to be dealt with at a later time.
Intuitive children and teens know their personal truth. Any distortion of that truth can cause them to feel confused, depressed, unbalanced, or even sick. When a child stuffs his feelings it creates an inward vortex of spiraling emotions that can continue to pull him downward for years to come. Childhood depression can be carried into adulthood if it is not dealt with when it first appears. If your child has bouts of depression, notice what triggers are associated with the episodes. Who has he been around? What disturbing event has occurred recently? Has someone criticized or urged him to stuff his emotions regarding an upsetting situation?
In our society, we have been taught to be emotionally dishonest. We pretend to feel one thing when we truly feel another. When we are angry and our spouse asks, "What's wrong?" we pretend not to be upset. We say, "Nothing's the matter" or we give the person the silent treatment rather than calmly and rationally expressing our point of view. When we are sad, we say everything is fine, yet a large percentage of the population is taking antidepressants, which indicates that things are not fine in regards to our emotions and how we express them. When we deny what we feel or judge ourselves for feeling it, we deny an authentic part of ourselves. If we resist or ignore what is happening or what we feel, we don't allow ourselves to process the experience.
I'm not advocating a full-blown, violent expression of emotions-that's just as harmful as stuffing an emotion. No one should be a victim of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. No one enjoys watching a two-year-old throw a temper tantrum in the grocery store either, but this unrestrained expression of emotions is one of the ways children keep toxic energy from getting stuck in their bodies. Until a child learns a better, more mature way to manage his emotions, you might as well expect a few disturbing eruptions.
Children aren't the only ones who need to learn how to maturely deal with their emotions in order to process and release them appropriately. I've seen adults throw a fit when they didn't get their way-a sure sign that this person was not taught how to negotiate in a more positive manner to obtain a positive outcome in a situation.
Back to the child throwing a fit, balance is the key. You can hardly ignore a child's temper tantrum, but there's no need to stop the child from expressing his emotions. The irritating behavior occurs usually because the child wants something that the parent says he can't have. Avoid the temptation to cave in and give him whatever it is that he wants just to get him to stop screaming or kicking. Make sure the child is safe and then calmly remove yourself a comfortable distance from his/her presence and do not interact with him until the outburst has ended. It may be embarrassing if the tantrum occurs in public, but this ordeal is not about you nor is it a reflection on your parenting abilities. It is a learning opportunity for both the parent and the child. Be sure to talk about the episode after the child has recomposed himself. This is a step in teaching him how to deal with upsetting situations in a healthy way that acknowledges his feelings without letting them get the best of him or harm others. Whatever we place emphasis upon will cause it to increase. So, don't dwell on the tantrum, but do talk about what's upsetting both of you and attempt to resolve the issue together. This non-blaming, non-resistant method of dealing with life's troubles will transform any relationship and give all parties the freedom to feel what they feel, express personal likes/dislikes, and be totally honest. If you do not react negatively, this childish behavior will end when the child learns that throwing a fit does not gain him/her the attention that was expected or accomplish what he/she intended.
"The sorrow that has no vent in tears may make other organs weep." ~Henry Maudsley
Resistance or stuffing our emotions actually attracts more of the things, people, energy, and situations we don't want. We resist because we are fearful or in denial. We resist our emotions because we are afraid to feel. Perhaps we are afraid our emotions will take over and we will lose control. Quite the opposite is true. Our emotions, when stuffed, are silently taking over our well-being; and, building up pressure inside. These pent-up feelings may rush forth unexpectedly and cause us to be the adult throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store! When we resist someone or something (even if it is unpleasant) rather than accept what is, it only makes things worse. Being resistant blinds us to possibilities and solutions and causes us to become stuck, defensive, shut down, and reactive. As a result, our body may feel tight, tense, or lethargic; our emotions may feel heavy, sad, or angry.
Those who have developed the gift of empathy and learned to trust their intuition are more inclined to pay attention to what they sense and feel. Observing and dealing with situations as they arise allows emotional energy to flow through without getting stuck, while at the same time you remain grounded and centered.
If something is upsetting you deal with it quickly rather than denying its reality. If you notice you are in a state of resistance, do an activity that brings peace of mind, balance, and well-being. The book I am writing with Dr. Caron Goode can help. Caron is the award winning author of Raising Intuitive Children and the international best-seller, Kids Who See Ghosts, guide them through their fear.
The more you learn to manage your emotions, the better teacher you become to the children in your life. I encourage you develop your intuition and set an example of non-resistant behavior. When you move into the stream of life, things begin to fall into perfect alignment, synchronicities abound, aches and pains diminish, stress melts away, creativity flourishes, relationships heal, and we experience a profound sense of peace.