Managing Emotional Mayhem

Navigating The Turbulence Of Emotions

This is Part 2 of our series on Parenting On Purpose and it will deal more with how to manage your emotions, than your children’s emotions.

Frequently Used Statements

Take a moment to consider if any of these statements register with you:

  • Stop crying or I’m going to give you something to cry about.
  • Wipe that smile of your face or I will wipe it off for you.
  • I brought you into this world and I can take you out.
  • I am not going to tell you again.
  • Don’t make me turn this car around.
  • You just need to toughen up.
  • How many times do I have to tell you?
  • You better eat all your dinner because there are starving kids in Africa!
  • Back in my day we had to walk 10 miles to school uphill, both ways.
  • Stop crying; you are okay.
  • Because I said so.
  • If you live under my roof, you are going to follow my rules.
  • If you are going to act like a child, I am going to treat you like one.
  • Do as I say, not as I do.
  • I hope your kids turn out just like you.
  • Don’t make me count to three.

All jokes aside, these statements are so commonly spoken to children today that they have become normal. These statements and many others said frequently to children young and old alike have negative connotations. It is easy to see why so many young people today are struggling with trauma, rejection, identity crises, mental disorders, and many more. Not one of these statements offers the receiver tools to deal with life’s circumstances or handle their emotions.

Understanding Our Relationship With Our Emotions

Our relationship with our own emotions begins when we are born and how we learn to manage them can affect us for the rest of our lives. Some of us learned that when we have feelings of anger or even give in to outbursts and tantrums when growing up that anger is bad and shouldn’t be expressed. The parent in the life of the child didn’t know how to handle their anger and so responded with their own anger at their child being angry, or ignored the whole event completely.

Anger is not bad. Anger is an emotion and emotions are indicators that tell us when something needs to change. Today’s society, however, traditionally perceives anger as something bad. Children do not only need to be taught rules but to learn how to process things and the why behind the how and the what.

A child’s behavior is a form of communication. It is important for us to remember this because children don’t have outbursts or act wild for no reason. There is always a reason behind the behavior of a child but they may not have the language or words to be able to communicate to us what they are feeling. If their behavors go unchecked and we do not help them to understand what they are feeling and process them, they can become their norm. This is the danger. Such behaviors become how they handle their emotions because they were not properly taught how they should process things.

Managing Our Emotions To Help Our Children Manage Theirs

Crying, tantrums, quietness, and defiance are all ways that children of all ages can react to convey messages to us as adults in their lives about what they need. It is our responsibility to help them learn how to self-regulate. The problem is that a lot of adults are not able to teach children how to self-regulate because they never learned how to manage their emotions in the first place.

Many adults today are victims of the type of parenting that employed the above statements that taught them expressing emotion is wrong instead of addressing the reason for the expression which will only continue because it has not been dealt with.

First Five Years Of Life

The first five years of life are the most fundamental and critical in terms of personality and core value formation. Everything that happens in the first five years of someone’s life literally determines the trajectory of their life. Your core values and beliefs are established in the first five years of your life because 90% of your brain is developed in the first five years. The last 10% of your brain is not fully developed until you are 25 years old.

The devil understands this fact and this explains why there is such an agenda against children and what they are taught from the youngest age. It is not the final battle by any means but if the devil can plant his seeds in a person’ life before the age of five, it makes it that much harder for the person to get to Heaven and live a godly life.

All is not lost. That is the reason Jesus Christ came. Jesus restored the relationship between God and man, and He can still make a way where there seems to be no way today.

With Jesus, we have the opportunity to equip young children before they get to school and are surrounded by ideology and teaching of the world, they can carry the truth in their core belief and values.

How To Change The Trajectory Of Our Lives

Changing our lives and our children’s lives does not begin with our own behavior modification. It cannot start there because no matter how hard you will try to change, if your mind doesn’t change, you will revert back to what you know. You can physically change your behavior for a little while but before you are transformed on the inside, you will go back to what you know.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and leasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2

We Need God To Change The Way We Think

We need God to help us change our inner dialogue of what we speak to ourselves and what we have learned growing up. There are a lot of thought we have about ourselves that we think are true, like – ‘I’m ugly, I’m fat, no good.’ Maybe those things were spoken over you and you believed them. You need God to renew your mind and break that mindset. Until we are changed, we will not be able to guide the next generation effectively because we are sick on the inside.

How The Devil Operates

The devil operates through open doors. He tries to put us into bondage from a very early age. That is what generation curse are all about. That is how the devil works. But when we give our lives to Jesus Christ and we understand His mighty power at work in our lives, we can more effectively deal with old wounds that have been festering in our hearts, we can tear down strongholds and break the yoke of generational curses that have been operating in our lives. By this, we can be liberated, free our children and set them up for a really bright future and generational blessing to come.

Regulating our emotions is not something that we can learn to do in a day. It takes practice and has to be put into practice daily. There is a lot to unpack in this concept.

Where To Start

When it comes to managing our emotions, where we start is with us. It starts with a decision that we make that we are going to be the solution and not the problem anymore. When you accept that truth, that is the beginning of freedom.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

John 8:32

The Truth is a person and His name is Jesus Christ. When you bring Jesus Christ into the center of your family and allow His Truth not only to transform you personally but also to operate in your family, you will see your family members being transformed by the Truth. You need to accept the truth that you need Jesus; you need God to help you change your life and work on your emotions. That is the beginning of change and freedom.

Discovering How To Manage Your Emotions

Emotional Awareness

We have to be aware of our own personal state of being. Be conscious of what you are experiencing inside of you. This focuses on our inner being.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

Jeremiah 17:9

A wounded and festering heart cannot produce something that is healthy and whole. What does that mean? That means that as a parent, if my heart is broken or wounded, and I do not take heed to my heart, then my kids are not going to be healthy and whole emotionally either. What is inside you will always be reproduced on the outside.

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Luke 6:45

So, if none of us are good, how can we produce good fruit? Even when a pharisee came to Jesus and called Him, “Good Teacher”, Jesus responded asking, “Why do you call Me good? Only God is good.” In that moment when the declaration was made, it proved that if He is a Good Teacher, He is God because only God is good.

So how can Jesus say a good person produces good fruit if none of us are good? It is true. On our own, we cannot be good. With Jesus Christ, you can be a good person who produces good things out of the treasury of a good heart. You need Jesus who is good to live inside you, and to walk with Him daily to fulfil this principle. Without Jesus, we are left being evil people who produce evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.

“Guard your heart above all else. For it determines the course of your life.”

Proverbs 4:23

A life without Jesus Christ is not good but a life with Him is the pathway to the good life, no matter what happens. A good life is a life with Jesus Christ.

What Are You Passing Down To Your Children?

Are you a do as I say not as I do type of parent? How can we expect our children to obey us if we constantly do the opposite of what we tell them they should do? As children get older, they start realizing their parents faults and they are not the superhero they thought they were. Actions speak louder than words.

What is your response to life situations? Every single one of us will experience challenging situations. Just because you are a Christian does not mean that you are exempt from hard times. In fact, as a Christian, you may even face more hard times because you are living in direct confrontation with satan and he doesn’t want to let you go free. The enemy is going to fight you. He is going to challenge you. There will be a battlefield in your mind.

How do you respond when you face touch situations? Are you speaking out of faith and trust in God? Is your response to hard times a result of hurt and pain from the past? Are you replicating what you were wrongly taught from previous generations?

Embrace the opportunity to look within and allow God to begin healing your emotional self so you can effectively teach emotional wellbeing to your children. Click To Tweet

Embrace the opportunity to look within and allow God to begin healing your emotional self so you can effectively teach emotional wellbeing to your children. When you become aware of your emotional wellbeing and shortcomings, you can take them to the Lord and He can help you in your weakness.

Relational Awareness

What are you relationships like with other people? How do people experience us? Relational awareness focuses on our external being.

Research indicates that the way parents treat each other is even more powerful for a child than the way the parents treat the child. This is why our example as a parent is vitally important. Children are going to learn from how mom and dad behave and treat each other. Dysfunctional parental relationships equal dysfunctional child relationships.

Dysfunctional parental relationships equal dysfunctional child relationships. Click To Tweet

Research also indicates that couples that were more emotionally competent in their marriage were also more effective in helping children manage their feelings in healthy ways – Katz & Gottman, 1994.

To summarize this point, if I am emotionally strong or emotionally well and have a good relationship with my spouse, it will have a significant impact on the training of our child.

Root Causes

When we talk about managing emotional mayhem, let us find out how to understand the root causes of the behavior that we display. Firstly, we need to know that there are primary and secondary emotions.

Primary Emotions

There are arguably six types of primary emotion which are angry, sad, scared, happy, disgusted, and surprised. Primary emotions are uncomplicated. They are natural responses and are innately fundamental to our emotional wellbeing and functioning.

Secondary Emotions

These include feeling frustrated, disappointed, anxious, calm, and a whole range of others. They are considered secondary emotions because they are not necessarily related to an innate survival response in a given situation. They are tied to a story or adaptive belief we have embraced as truth. For example, if you feel angry, something needs to change now. However, if you feel disappointed, you can still think about what needs to happen. Secondary emotions are usually feelings about an emotion. A lot of people might feel shame about feeling sad or angry due to the unconscious family conditioning they received.

Parents are every child’s first teachers and they pass down what they have learned from generation to generation. It takes an act of intentionality to change what we pass on to our children if it is different from what was passed down to us.

The Importance Of Primary Emotions

Primary emotions are an essential function and necessary for our lives because our emotions are not our enemies; they are our best friends because they tell us when something needs to change.

Our emotions are not our enemies; they are our best friends because they tell us when something needs to change. Click To Tweet

Our primary emotions are how we experience life. When a situation comes your way, you will experience a primary emotion. Everything we experience in life starts with a primary emotion because that is how we assess the world around us. This is how God made us and how our brain works.

The Devil And Our Emotions

The enemy uses strong secondary emotions to mask what we are really feeling so that we cannot properly deal with our primary emotions when we feel them. This often causes those unattended primary emotions to fester into deep wounds in our hearts. This masking is why many people cannot accurately explain what is wrong or what is happening to them.

If we were to deal with the primary emotions, what we are really feeling, we would be able to have closure and move on. To counteract this, the enemy tricks people into believing adaptive stories about themselves and their life experiences. This prevents them from being able to properly examine their own lives in truth of the Word of God.

Sadness Is A Normal Part Of Life

It is not wrong to be sad. Neither is it wrong to grieve. It is something everyone will experience because we will all lose people who are close to us along our journey in life. Ten out of ten people die. Sadness is okay if you deal with the sadness. But when you try to mask sadness with a secondary emotion, it stays undealt with behind the mask in the dark of your soul and darkness is where the devil operates.


We often bury our primary emotions behind life stories, defenses and secondary emotions or feelings. Our defenses are derives from our secondary feelings which mask our primary emotions. All primary emotions are derives from only one of two foundational experiences: love and fear.

The two foundational experiences in life are love and fear. Click To Tweet

Everything that you are met with, every challenge, life situation, joyous moment, is either founded on love or fear.

To reiterate, our defenses come from our secondary emotions, which mask our primary emotions, which are derived from a foundational experience.

Fear Is Not Your Portion

Just because the Bible tells us fear is not our portion does not mean that we will never encounter fear again in life. As long as you are still living on this side of Heaven, you will experience fear because that is the devil’s tool. The spirit of fear is very real and there are so many scriptures that combat it. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that our defenses against the tactic of fear is God’s love, power, and a sound mind. The Bible also says that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

The devil’s strategy is to get you to experience fear and build the cycle of your behavior from there. When people meet you, they experience you through your defenses. All of your walls are up and it is not easy for people to get along with you like this.

When an individual is able to bring their fearful experiences to God and allow Him to heal their heart, His perfect love will cast out fear, change their foundational experience and allow them to change the pathway that they are on. Instead of being received through their defenses, their walls come down and they can act with love.

As you take time to go deep with the Lord, you will learn to process through your emotions and manage the mayhem of emotional chaos in your life with God. Your walls will come down and people, including your children and family, will experience you differenly. They will experience the love of God in your life and they will love to be around you. Then, what your children will copy from you will be a good example.

God Cares About You

You need to learn to cast your cares upon the Lord. He truly cares about you and the things you care about. God wants to help us in our weaknesses. He wants to change the way you experience life by having Him by your side to walk through life’s challenges with you.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

1 Peter 5:7

This process is the beginning of self-regulation – being able to manage your emotions.


Self-regulations is, first and foremost, a conscious discipline. It means that you have to consciously think about regulating your emotions in the beginning. It is not something that comes naturally to us as human beings. We need God to help us. We need to continually make the conscious decision to self-regulate our emotions. Over time, with a lot of practice, it can become a natural part of our lives so much so that you do it without thinking about it. Eventually, it can lead you to prayer without ceasing as you automatically bring every situation to God.

When you set the tone for love, compassion, and actually processing your emotions on a daily basis, you will find that your children will copy you and do the same. Children always follow your example and not your preaching.

The Importance Of Managing Your Emotions

  • Children who learn to manage and express their emotions create healthier relationships.
  • Children with emotional and social competence are more successful in school and in the work place.
  • Emotional health equals optimal brain functioning.
  • Helping children manage upset feelings is a form of disease prevention. The toxicity of poorly managed feelings is on par with how smoking cigarettes contributes to poor health.

That is why the devil will do all he can to cause us to mask our emotions, believing a different story about our life than the reality. He would love nothing more than for every person to have a festering emotional wound in their heart that will cause you to have sickness in your body, disease in your emotions, and one day take your life.

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