How many times have you seen it? The helpless, ragged mom in the store looking down at a flailing child on the floor who seems to think that Mom saying no to him is just not going fly. The fit is thrown. Awesome.
What about your own kitchen floor? Ever seen one of your children getting a good look at the crumbs you didn’t sweep up because he was throwing a flailing, fall-down-on-the-floor fit? Yes, those are moments that make a mom feel super.
Why do they do it? Where on earth does that instinct come from? It’s not like they’ve seen us do it. (If your child has seen you throw yourself on the floor, kicking and screaming and gnashing your teeth, then maybe we should talk.) But, I am assuming your children are not simply mimicking what you’ve done. So, why do they do it?
Honestly? I don’t know. I’m not a child psychologist. But I do know a few things. I know I have had four kids try fits on me . . . and lost.
Before you say, “Teach me this secret, oh mom of four,” understand this: I am not saying my kids haven’t ever cried or gone berserk about what just happened or didn’t happen to them. I’m not saying my kids haven’t pushed the envelope when it came to fits. What I am saying is that my kids simply were not allowed to fall down on the floor and flail around in weeping crazy fits just because they didn’t get their way.
For example, I have a four-year-old son. He’s my fourth, for the record. We were in the kitchen and he wanted more chips. “Sorry, buddy, no more chips.” He asked again, I said no. He dropped to his knees, then put his head on the floor and was just about to make a break for the fit when I said, “Stand up.”
That’s it. Stand up. I might say something else like, “Stand up. You can be mad and you can be sad, but you will not throw yourself on the floor, and you will look at me.” If they challenge me further, little hineys end up in their bed, or they might get a little “laying on of hands.” Usually, a firm and controlled voice does the trick. My husband and I decided that fits were simply not allowed. If you are upset, you will stay on your feet or you may sit down. You may even sit on your bed, but you will not fall down.
A fit is quite different from just being upset. Little human, you can cry and you can ask why, but you cannot show to me that you will completely lose control just to get your way. It’s not going to happen.
How many of us have thrown a crazy baby fit before God about something? We might even end up on the floor, in tears, asking Him why He won’t give us what we want. Truth be told, we know why. We know that giving in to a child who is flipping out on the carpet will be one of the worst moves we can make. We know that gaining control of the situation and lovingly reminding our sweet children that we are the parent and they will not behave like that will bring about great results. We know why God doesn’t always give us what we want.
God loves us through the hurt, through the disappointment, through the anger. He calmly reminds us by His spirit that He is in control, has the authority, and will be honored and glorified. Through this we will be changed by His great love and patience with us. He will not be disrespected. He calls us to stand up in honor and faith.
Next time your sweet pea is about to fall into crazy town, take a moment to get hold of the situation. Tell him or her calmly, yet firmly, “Stand up. You can cry and you can be mad, but you will not lose control. You can tell me what you want and why you’re upset, but you will not be disrespectful.” Try it and see if that sweet baby doesn’t respond. Then, honor God for treating you the same way, for there is honor in acknowledging you’re upset and respecting God during it. There is a strength that comes with humility on your feet. And there are eternal benefits that outweigh the short-lived satisfaction of a tantrum appeased.
Sometimes our sweet children teach us more about ourselves and God than we ever dreamed.