My oldest is 5. He is a sweet, caring little guy. He is deeply concerned about the Bible and the things of the Lord. He has always been described by others as an “old soul”. He really does seem to possess wisdom beyond his years. When we began the process of coming to seminary, our little guy began to struggle with two things… nightmares and anger.
In addition to being very wise and intelligent… he is a firstborn. For those of you who have studied birth order… he is a first born, all the way… without a doubt. He likes his world to be in order. He has very strong opinions and is not afraid to let them be known. Until recently, he has been in control of the play in the house. His little sister has simply followed along with what he wants to do. He likes dinosaurs.. she likes dinosaurs. He plays in the sandbox… she plays in the sandbox. He doesn’t like story time at the library… she doesn’t like story time (although… she’s never actually been). Well… watch out big brother… little sis is growing up and getting some thoughts of her own.
When we moved for my husband to begin seminary… I was also 7 months pregnant. We had a lot of BIG life changes happening all at once. I understood my little guy being angry and confused. After a couple of months, the anger seemed to be under control and things in our home were much more peaceful.
Now… we are entering the final semester in my husband’s program. We have been talking about moving again. Our world will be rocked once again… and I think Big Brother is starting to feel it coming. He has been SO angry! As soon as something doesn’t go his way… the world crumbles and the whole house suffers because of it.
Yesterday, I was beginning to lose hope that we could help him. I told my husband that it’s moments like these when I am so tempted to give up on homeschool and put him where he will be around other kids his age and can learn to be in relationship with people and get a break from us and…
But really… that’s just treating a symptom and not the heart of the issue.
Yesterday morning, snack time came. The kids have a box in the kitchen where they can pick their snack. If it’s in the box, it’s approved… if not… too bad. Well.. there was only one pouch of the fruit snacks my guy wanted (he usually has two). Because there was only one pouch, he threw a fit and threw the pouch across the room. I sent him to cool off in his room while I planned my next step.
I remembered this book (which I borrowed from a friend last year):
This book is all about getting to the heart of anger issues. Much of it is how we, as parents, often provoke our children to anger. I started looking through for strategies to help Big Brother process through his emotions. One suggestion was having an anger journal. The model in the book was a little old for what I was looking for, but I liked the idea. I wrote some questions down on paper and had my son sit and talk it out with me. I also made him write in his answers… he was not happy about that, but eventually he did it.
Why did I get angry?… There wasn’t what I wanted.
What did I do when I got angry?… I threw my snack
Philippians 2:14- Do all things without complaining and arguing (he had to copy the verse)
What can I do differently next time?… Say Ok Mommy
As tedious as this was to do… It worked. It diffused the situation and let out his anger. He was able to process what happened… why it happened… what the Bible has to say about it and strategize for next time. I imagine we will be having more of these little “talks.” I really did notice a difference in him for the rest of the day. I could tell he was really trying to be okay with things not going his way.
The Bible is a powerful tool. It really is living and active and useful for instruction (among other things). He was so angry as he was writing the answers for the first two questions… it took 30 minutes to get through that part. After he copied the verse, his demeanor changed and he was ready to receive instruction. His heart had truly been softened by the Word.