What is Controlling Your Child?
Joey and Carla Link
May 24, 2017
“You are being unreasonable!” Lexi shouted at her mother. “She thinks I’m being unreasonable?” Lexi’s mother thought and she wondered once again how to help her daughter get her emotions under control. Dealing with your child’s emotions can be frustrating at best. At times it seems none of your prodding or encouragement makes a difference in their attitude or treatment towards you or others. When I was growing up my mother would call this “they just got up on the wrong side of the bed.” Well then, how can your child make herself get up on the right side of the bed?
Think with us for a moment. What happens when your children feel they are being mistreated by a teacher? Or they feel a sibling or friend at school doesn’t like them? There is nothing wrong with feelings unless they control others in a negative way by manipulating them to do what they want.
Some 60 years ago Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ taught about this using a train. The engine was named “Facts”, the coal car is called “Faith” and the caboose is “Feelings”. He said when Christians let their feelings drive their faith, putting them in the engine’s seat, they distorted the facts which led their faith on a roller-coaster ride that left your child gasping for breath and wondering why God didn’t help them.
We all know someone who is led by their feelings. They can be unstable, putting their faith in wrong things leading them to make bad choices. These unstable feelings exaggerate truth which can be heard in statements like “You never” or “You always.” Lexi told her mother she never let her do what she wanted to do. Her mom realized Lexi believed this to be true. Her mom was once again left bewildered as just a couple days ago she had taken Lexi on a shopping trip and bought her a new outfit she wanted.
Can good feelings get out of control? Yes, when good feelings become “over the top” and become driven by “you only live once!” Putting their trust in their emotions, good or bad can lead kids to make unwise choices and decisions. Have you ever noticed our culture’s emphasis on “it feels good” is usually based on partying or living in an immoral way? From a young child squawking in the supermarket because you won’t get them the candy in the check-out lane, to a tween wanting to fit in with the crowd, to a teen going too far physically in a dating relationship, “it feels good” can lead to disaster.
How can you train your child to keep his feelings under control? While you can modify some of these for young children, they are most effective when children are 6 years and above.
- Always work with him on getting self-control. When you see his feelings getting out of control (don’t wait until they are out of control) have a non-verbal signal you can give him that means he needs to step away and get self-control.
- After your child shares something negative, have him share 3 positive things about the same situation/person.
- Always ask for the facts. Ask how he/she feels about the facts. Ask them how their feelings change the facts. This will help them learn their feelings are okay, but they don’t change the facts, which are truth. Feeling oriented kids don’t like to think in facts.
- Get three blocks of wood and write “Faith” on one, “Fact” on another and “Feelings” on the 3rd. Have your child keep these where he/she can readily see them. When their feelings are getting out of control, switch the blocks so “feelings” are first, “Faith” is second and “Fact” is 3rd. Tell your child to sit and think about how their feelings are leading them to make wrong choices and to sit until he/she can put them in proper order again and tell you what they are going to do about their feelings when they apologize to you.
- Ask your child who is in authority over him/her. Their response should include you, God and perhaps a teacher and coach. Ask your child if he believes he needs to follow what these people say, can he trust them to be right? When he decides he can, remind him God put people with authority in their life starting with their parents so when their feelings get mixed up, they know who they can trust and follow.
Bottom line, parents need to do as Solomon said in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” If you as a parent see your kids being led by their emotions, work on guiding them back to working off of facts, showing them one does not exclude the other.