As far as I can remember, I was not a highly emotional child. I had 3 older brothers, so I was always hearing “Be tough” if I fell down or got my feelings hurt.
But when I had a daughter of my own, I found that screams would erupt from her at the drop of a hat. And as the saying goes, she would drop the hat.
If she even imagined that she stubbed her toe, she would cry as loudly as if she’d broken it.
If her brother was being mean to her, she could deliver quite an intimidating speech.
If she was disappointed, there would be weeping and wailing.
I was rather surprised by all this girl drama, and for a long time I didn’t know how to handle it. Since I knew she was overreacting, I made sure to tell her so. But my efforts to stop the emotional outbursts in their tracks almost always made her cry all the harder.
I’ve since learned how to help her handle emotional meltdowns, and I want to share what I’ve learned in hopes it will help other mamas with little girls prone to big emotions.
I came up with three different aspects that go into helping my daughter mange her emotions.
1. First and foremost, I’ve learned to be gentle, compassionate, and understanding.
When I’m crying for no reason, especially at certain times of the month, I don’t really appreciate anyone telling me to just “get over it.” I just want a hug (and some chocolate.) And when my little girl is emotional over nothing in particular, a gentle hug goes a long way in helping her to calm down.
I tend to be no-nonsense, and when someone is crying over something they have no reason to cry about, I really just want to tell them to dry it up. But as I was thinking over the fruit of the spirit one day, I came to a realization:
…The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness…
There it is. If I am exhibiting spirit-control in the way I mother my children, I need to include gentleness in the way I treat them. Being a Godly mother isn’t 100% about training my children to obey and do right. There’s a big element of being gentle and compassionate too.
Treating my daughter with gentleness has gone a long way in reducing the intensity of her emotions.
2. Be proactive rather than reactive.
Instead of waiting until the heat of the moment to try to direct her in responding correctly I need to work with her ahead of time. Then, instead of trying to instruct her while she’s all worked up, I can simply remind her of what she already knows.
Some of the things we’ve worked on are anger, disappointment, frustration, and being physically hurt.
I teach her Biblical principles as well as practical suggestions.
For example, “If your brother takes the blue bowl off the counter while I’m serving up the food, and you wanted that one, should you scream about it? Or should you think of others and be happy that he is able to enjoy having the color he likes?”
Or, “If someone is being mean to you, screaming at them is not the proper way to handle the situation. You can ask them nicely to stop, but if they will not you should come ask mommy to help you.”
Or, “You may say “Ouch” when I am brushing your hair but you may not wail and carry on like you are dying.”
3. If she has a meltdown, I remove her from the situation so that she can calm down. If she is screaming at her brother because he took a toy, I send them both to their rooms. My son because he was unkind, and my daughter because she is not handling the problem correctly. Once she is in a quiet place where she can think clearly, she will calm down pretty quickly. After she has calmed down I can ask her what she has learned about how to handle her problem and whether or not she did that. She will realize that she should have handled things differently and determine to try to remember next time.
Little girls need to understand that emotions are normal and that they haven’t done anything wrong by having those feelings. But they also need to be taught what to do with those emotions.
With such a wide range of emotions, mothers need real wisdom from above to know how to handle each one!
Thankfully we have the promise of God that He will provide it!
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. James 1:5
Practice gentleness and compassion, prepare your daughter ahead of time, and remove her from the situation when big emotions do erupt and see if it makes a difference in your home!
MaryEllen is a stay at home wife and mommy who is passionate about inspiring other homemakers to be all that God wants them to be. She blogs at Imperfect Homemaker where she shares her articles and inspiration about homemaking, homeschooling, and natural living.