Daniel Tiger And The Holy Spirit :: How We Manage Big Feelings
I can remember when my oldest was 18 months old, standing in the kitchen cooking dinner, waiting for my husband to get home, and doing the best that I could to get my kid to calm down. It never failed, at dinner time he would lay on the floor and scream uncontrollably, and nothing I did seemed to help. It was exhausting and frustrating and unfortunately wasn’t exactly a phase.
My kids have big feelings, and one of the hardest things in motherhood has been figuring out how to help them manage and regulate those feelings.
The number one thing I’ve learned about motherhood is that it teaches you about yourself, especially the areas where you are flawed. There’s nothing like raising tiny versions of yourself to really reveal those flaws. And what have I learned about myself: I’m highly emotive and struggle to self-regulate.
Two years ago, I was at my wit’s end trying to manage two toddlers and all of their feelings.
A few things happened on the same day that helped me reframe my mindset and change my approach.
First, I was in a small group through our church parish at the time, and a fellow mom shared a story where she was overstimulated, overwhelmed, and elbows deep in dishes. Everyone in her family was asking her questions all at once, and she turned, looked at them, and belted out “come Holy Spirit.” It was hilarious, but also practical. In moments of stress, chaos, and overwhelm, we can call on the Spirit and He can bring us peace.
Second, that night we watched a Daniel Tiger episode where Daniel struggled with getting angry. In typical Daniel fashion, he and his parents created a friendly song to help solve the problem: when you feel so mad that you wanna roar, just take a deep breath and count to four. The solution to my problem hit me then, I needed to teach my kids to pause and to pray when they started getting worked up. And I needed to give them the space to remind me to do the same.
Now our solution anytime anyone in our house gets worked up is to remind them to “freeze, take a deep breath, count to four, and say your prayer.” I’ve said these words more times than I can count: at the grocery store, in the middle of family gatherings, before the first day of kindergarten, and just this afternoon while my two-year-old laid on the ground screaming about wanting another snack. It isn’t always perfect, I often have to repeat myself, and in really bad moments when we’re desperate, we just blast the song “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battestelli until we’re all feeling better. But, it has worked for us. My kids often do it automatically when they feel themselves getting worked up. And in moments where I’m having big feelings they remind me to do it too.
Managing emotions is hard, but when we pause, pray, and invite the Spirit to move in the ordinary and overwhelming moments it becomes much easier to regulate and to handle how we’re feeling.