Let’s Be Real about Temper Tantrums

(Last Updated On: July 29, 2016)

Temper tantrums are an inevitable part of parenting, whether we like to admit it or not. And if we’re honest, temper tantrums are often an issue for more than just the kids.

I originally wrote about this topic two years ago, but pulled the original post because it felt hypocritical when I still struggle.

But I’ve decided if my honesty can help other moms, my brokenness is better than staged perfection.

Being a mom is filled with lots of joy. My daughter’s giggles and snuggles cheer my heart, and I love watching her grow in her faith and become her own little person.

But parenting is also filled with HUGE mountains of frustration.

I equate parenting to living with tiny, irrational people with memory disorders.

Parenting is frustrating. It's like living with tiny, irrational people with memory disorders. Click To Tweet

Minutes after we were supposed to leave the house, she says, “I forgot!” to why aren’t you dressed?

“Go put on your socks” is met with either a raging discourse against socks or a debate about wearing cowboy slippers to go to the park.

“Yes, I picked up my room,” is almost certainly a lie. More toys were generally liberated from their bins than returned to them.

And frustrations build. It is enough to drive anyone crazy.

Temper tantrums are an inevitable part of parenting, whether we like to admit it or not. And if we're honest, temper tantrums are often an issue for more than just the kids.

As parents, we are faced with making the same requests, fighting the same battles, over and over and over, day after day after day.

Add the stress of housekeeping, bills, work, difficult relationships and I start to fall apart.

I’ll feel like I’m barely holding my Hindenburg emotions together with duct tape and the next frustration rips through my false calm like flames.

For me, the first step in healing came from realizing that the root cause of my temper tantrums is sin.

SIN? Really?!?

Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV “Be angry and do not sin . . . and give no opportunity to the devil.”

God expects us to have emotions, not be ruled by them. When we throw temper tantrums we damage the trust our children have in us, in our love, in our stability, in our faith.

God expects us to have emotions, not be ruled by them. Temper tantrums damage relationships. Click To Tweet

We give Satan footholds into the lives of our children. With our temper tantrums, we build weak places in their hearts that Satan can exploit.

Totally unacceptable! So, I had to root out where my anger comes from. Primarily stress, pride, and lack of self-control. Yep, sin.

We hold onto stress like it’s our human right to explode during difficult circumstances, but God’s answer is not to. PERIOD.

Philippians 4:6 ESV “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

In the calm moments of motherhood, I find it easy to write this, but when I’m tired, have a headache, and my kid won’t stop talking long enough to eat her dinner, it is much harder to demonstrate self-control over the frustrations.

Many temper tantrums come from selfishness and pride.

I wanted today to go my way. I wanted to be on time. I didn’t want my favorite mug shattered on the ground from carelessness. They asked for more of my attention than I wanted to give right now (which is especially true in the bathroom) or all those things have happened at once.

And I used to snap.

Living with the me of the past had to be miserable. No one could anticipate my mood or my threshold for the day. I am truly grieved over the temper tantrums that ruled my life for years.

Every day I would wake up and promise myself to be better, and most days I would fail, robbing me and my family of joy and peace.

I couldn’t control myself because there was an anger born of selfishness inside me. Until I began to die to that selfishness, I wasn’t able to be different.

I had to see others, including my children, as more important than myself. I had to grow in humility.

Philippians 2:3 ESV “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

I realize now God’s highest commandment to love others comes before keeping house, writing a blog, folding laundry.

Sometimes, I am still tempted when faced with blatant disobedience, but I recognize my anger doesn’t reflect a humility in my position before God, or the ability to look at their sin with grace and compassion, without having to join them in anger.

James 1:19-20 ESV “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

The purpose of my life as a wife and mother is to produce righteous fruit in my life, in the lives of those with whom I fellowship, and the lives of my husband and children.

The anger of man doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.

So what are we supposed to do?

Psalm 4:4 ESV / “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.”

I love that – God invented time out.

If you’re angry, go sit on your bed, think about your own heart, and be quiet!

Taking a few moments to get myself under control in prayer always changes my attitude, setting aside my selfishness, exchanging it for God’s peace.

Temper Tantrums? Psalm 4:4 - God invents time out. Go sit on your bed & search your own… Click To Tweet

When I sit in quiet and reflect, I’m reminded how God loves them, to see another perspective, consider how to solve the conflict over being right.

It sounds too good to be true. Just pray?

It is where I start. Prayer opens our hearts to God. Then through scripture, He reaches into our lives with His wisdom. In prayer and reading His word, we learn to listen, be convicted and challenged.

In this communion with Him, we are granted His peace.

Philippians 4:7 ESV “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the face of truly heartbreaking struggles, mind-numbing frustrations, and painful realities the peace of God is absolutely beyond my ability to describe or explain, but is so real.

I’ve felt it, like silk, wash over my heart, changing my perspective and emotions in an instant.

With joy and thankfulness for my full life, I ask to have the correct attitude toward this season as wife and mother and set aside my anger.

God has been working on my temper tantrums for years now.

I can safely say He’ll be done with me about five seconds before never, but I know I’m making perfectly imperfect progress every time I pray for His peace, patience, and maybe some time alone to pee.

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16 Replies to “Let’s Be Real about Temper Tantrums”

  1. This is very convicting. I still struggle with this more than I wish I did. This is great advice. Just hearing it repeatedly helps stay focussed on what’s important and how to handle frustrations that are inevitable.

    1. Even writing it today made it all fresh in my mind. Despite trying to write with a child who wants my attention every second, I was able to remember to love her first.

  2. Yes, I realize that when i snap, it’s due to something getting in my way or invading my time. It’s selfishness and sinful and completely uncalled for. Asking for God’s help instead of allowing words to come out of my mouth is definitely the better course of action. Great post!

  3. “I realize now God’s highest commandment to love others comes before keeping house, writing a blog, folding laundry.” That sentence hit home with me. It all did, as most of your posts do. I throw temper tantrums more frequently than I’d like and I always feel ashamed afterwards. Following a tantrum, I always apologize to my children or my husband but feel guilty. After all, how am I supposed to teach my children how to handle their emotions when I don’t have control over mine? I do pray when I feel the anger bubbling up out of me but I haven’t put it into action yet. I liked your suggestion to take a timeout. I will try to remember that next time. Great post, thanks for sharing!
    Emily recently posted…Managing ExpectationsMy Profile

  4. First of all, I’ve always loved the title of your blog – it sums up my parenting beliefs also. 🙂 Second, who knew God invented time out?! I’m so glad you included the second half of that verse because so often we hear only the first half quoted. The next time I struggle with anger (which is bound to be sometime tomorrow) or I have to counsel one of our children about anger, I’ll remember that second half. I liked this so much, I’m sharing it around!
    Jen @ Being Confident of This
    Jen recently posted…The Truth About a Faith That Stumbles on WaterMy Profile

    1. Thank you! And I loved the second part because time out in our home means that we find our happy heart. So sitting down to ponder our hearts was already how we do timeout! It is a daily struggle for most of us. Parenting little ones is tricky.

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