Sometimes parents of emotionally and behaviorally challenged children can get to a breaking point where something has to give. There is a point at which you realize you are either stuffing your feelings and you are paying the price or your emotional outbursts rival those of your child. Ouch! You must be the adult. And that means taking whatever measures you need to to ensure that your emotions are not out of control. Emotions are good indicators. We need them. But they shouldn’t be driving the car.
When your GPS gives good directions it is super helpful! A great tool. But when the directions are off for some reason, we need to be aware so we can make the needed corrections or we can end up in a completely wrong location.
It’s the same with our emotions. They can be great indicators. They can inform us when we may need to take a detour. They can help us choose between options. Our GPS may show us a list of restaurants in the area and a little bit about them, so we have good information from which to make a lunch choice. Similarly, our emotions can let us know something doesn’t seem right. But it’s up to our thinking brain to take that information and do something about it.
When we feel an alarm of emotion we may not need additional information. We may know exactly what to do when a certain emotion pops up. But in other situations we do need more information. For instance if our child’s frequent sleep problems are not responsive to the measures we know and have tried, we may need to investigate further. Feeling tired and frustrated at the sleepless nights may prompt us to know something’s not right and needs to be addressed right away. But feeling tired and frustrated may also hinder us from thinking clearly if we are already stretched thin and it goes on for a while.
Think Outside the Box
My youngest adopted son screamed himself to sleep after coming home and normal soothing measures did not work. Occasionally we could get him to sleep by rubbing his back with lotion. Then we learned that melatonin supplements would help him relax. He also needed a night light and to be in the bed with someone, not alone (not even in the same room in a separate bed), because as a deaf child he needed to be able to reach out and touch someone for assurance that he wasn’t alone. Oh how I wish we had gotten him to sleeping better sooner. But my box of sleep tools did not cover his particular needs at that time.
Thinking outside the box might be needed to keep our emotions from gaining control. When emotions prompt us to action or to seek out will be effective in a given situation our feelings are great sidekicks. When we stuff our feelings though, we disable their usefulness like a broken GPS system. We also disarm our thinking brain’s ability to supervise our emotions. So they can easily get out of control.
Emotional Alarm System
What if we think of our emotions as an alarm system. Different signals can alert us to different things. When there is an distress signal we know we should take quick action. We do not just ignore the situation and turn off the alarm. The alarm is not the problem. It simply alerts us to the problem or potential problem. We can turn off the noise of the alarm but we also have to assess and address the issue that caused the alarm to sound.
Turning off the alarm or ignoring it is like stuffing our emotions and feelings. And disregarding the underlying cause. Nor do we want to overreact to the alarm and fail to notice what set if off.
Free Parent Resource: A Christian’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Control
I’ve compiled a Guidebook that you may have for free, “A Christian’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Control”, jam-packed with information and ideas for steps you can take to keep your emotional brain in the passenger seat while your thinking brain does the driving. This is a free, parent-to-parent resource for parents who may have a lot of emotional upheaval and feel a bit overwhelmed. I hope it is helpful to you. If you know anyone else who can use this resource please direct them to this blogpost to get their free copy as well. Just click the link below for your free copy.