William and Patrick, eager helpers at five and eight, were working in the back yard with me. Our goal was to solve a drainage problem. God’s goal was different. Realizing that I needed to dig a shallow trench, I sent the two guys to get my “round-point” shovel. It took longer than I thought it should have. I waited. I waited impatiently. Then they came around the corner dragging my “square-point” shovel. In an instant, I lost my cool. “Don’t you know the difference between round and square?” I asked. My face was red, my veins bulging, my voice loud. They froze. I went on and on. I grabbed the shovel and took it back to the garage, seized the “round-point,” and returned to the yard. . . still fussing and fuming. The boys had turned to watch me go and kept their eyes on me, never uttering a word, as I returned.
That day, they learned the difference between round and square when referring to shovels. They also learned how to throw a temper tantrum. They also learned that working with dad was not fun.
The more I dug that trench, the more God’s Spirit spoke to me, revealing my own weakness. He showed me that digging a trench was not nearly as important as training my two sons. They were the greater project. I went to them and asked forgiveness. They forgave. Patrick and Will may have forgotten that day; I have not.
Tantrums are unacceptable, whether they are adult or childhood fits. Try these tips to help eliminate tantrums.
Work on yourself first—eliminate your own tantrums.
Show disapproval with your face—frown.
Speak disapproval with your words—say, “NO! We do not act like this in our family.”
Show disapproval with a gesture—Wag or point a finger, hold up your hand in a “halt” sign, clap your hands loudly. Get his attention, and direct his conduct to a better way.
Speak disapproval with your tone—Let your vocal tone indicate your dislike of his behavior.
Temporarily, don’t be nice—be firm and clear and determined.
Tips we’ve netted: Some people say to walk away and let the tantrum play out. That may work sometimes. We simply preferred to take action, to be in charge.
Quote: Proverbs 29: 11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. AND Prov. 22: 24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.