I have found, in my own life and in my own home, that when emotions are intense and negative there is a reason. Often the child doesn’t understand how to respond to something at a basic core level – there is confusion or hurt or misunderstanding. By not reacting to the emotion (though responding to how the emotion is expressed and teaching proper expressions) but reacting to the heart of the child in a loving and accepting way I am able to determine what is prompting the negative emotion and address that. An example that just happened today. Yesterday my daughter was having some intense reactions to things and getting the stomach aches she gets when she is stressed. I couldn’t figure out what was going on with her, though I addressed any inappropriate reactions she had, until she said something this morning about the appraiser who was coming to our home today because we are refinancing our home. She didn’t understand what a refinance was and thought we were moving again – something that has caused her great stress when we’ve done it and we’ve done it too many times in her life. When I explained what a refinance is and assured her that we aren’t moving and are staying put she smiled a smile I haven’t seen in days and began to glow. She returned to her normal cooperative and helpful self. It would have been too easy to punish her reactions and the inappropriate expressions of her emotions, to see her as defiant or as having an “angry spirit”, but I know her to be a beautifully social child and I assigned a positive intent by assuming something else was wrong that she couldn’t put into words. Turns out I was right.
Throughout Scripture we read about an emotional God, and an emotional Jesus, and emotional disciples, writing to emotional people. Emotions aren’t sin. They do, however, need to be understood.