The other day I watched a small child throw a tantrum. We had been trying to put on her coat, but she wanted to put her arm into the wrong sleeve of the jacket. When I switched the jacket around, she started yelling, because she thought I was taking it away from her. Even though I did my best to show her what was the real problem, she continued yelling and screaming, and had a meltdown. Every parent knows that scenario.
Why did she react that way? She was tired and simply needed sleep. She had not been willing to take a nap, and unfortunately, that left her unable to cope with other things. Was the solution to continue helping her to understand how to put her arms in her coat? No. We simply picked her up, forced her coat on her, and put her in the car -- where she promptly fell asleep in her carseat. Thank goodness! When she woke up, she was absolutely fine.
I love kids, and I think it is the neatest thing in the world to watch them and see them develop emotionally into adults. The same patterns that kids exhibit as toddlers can be seen in the way adults act, too -- just at a different level.
Many times we face situations where things just don’t go right. Things don’t fit -- kind of like the toddler’s coat would not go on right unless her arms were in the right sleeve. We react to the problem just like she did - we get upset, and have some small form of tantrum. Really, if we realized that what we really needed was simply a rest, or a way to regroup and refresh ourselves, we’d come back and the problem would be easy to solve. Or - if we could take a second, think about the problem, and look at the coat carefully, we could see that it was backwards, and simply turn it around. Or - we might realize that someone was right there who wanted to help us, but we had resisted that help because we wanted to do it our way. Etc.
The point is, we have to first understand our emotions. What are we feeling and thinking? What do we need to calm our emotions down so that we can effectively use our emotions to deal with the problem at hand?