The “Temper Challenge”

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.                Mark 3:5
2015 January 025     Mason got a Rubik’s Cube for Christmas.  Within minutes, he shuffled the colors, and has been frustrated trying to solve it since.  Zack said that there was a boy named Patrick in his fifth grade class who “claimed” he could solve the Rubik’s Cube.  So Mason had Zack take it to school the other day for Patrick’s help.
     Not only did Zack get off the bus that afternoon with the cube completely solved, but Patrick had taught Zack a series of moves that would shuffle the colors into a pattern, and then reshuffle them back to the solid colored sides again.  Mason was so excited, he couldn’t wait until we got home.  He grabbed the cube in the car and began shuffling.  But in his enthusiasm, he got the series of moves wrong and was unable to get it back to the solid colored sides again.  To say he got upset is an understatement.
     As we walked up the stairs from the garage, Mason fiercely stomped out his frustration.  When we got into the kitchen, he kicked his backpack and snow bag as he went from frustrated to downright angry.  I had him go sit in the living room to cool off while I figured out how to handle the situation.

      This isn’t an unusual reaction for Mason.  Although on the surface he seems to be a flexible and easy going kid, all his little life he’s been losing his temper and getting frustrated when things don’t turn out how he wants them to.  I constantly ask him if his reaction is matching the situation, and if not, what a better response would be.  I have given him a “punching pillow” to punch out his anger and frustration.  I’ve given him umpteen million speeches about how it’s okay to feel angry or frustrated; after all, we all have a right to our feelings and emotions.  However, it’s how we control them and act on them that matters.  He gets it all on a head level, but has yet to live it out on a heart level.
     Unfortunately, Mason gets his short fuse from me.  I too lose my temper and get immensely frustrated when things don’t turn out how I want them to.  I’ve gotten fairly good at hiding this from the outer world, but at home, I let my temper and frustration fly with both my husband and my kids.  Clearly I am setting a terrible example that Mason is following.  How can I point out the splinter in his eye before removing the plank from my own?
     In this scripture passage, not only was Jesus angry at the Pharisees for harshly judging Him all the time, but He was “deeply distressed” that their stubborn hearts made them deaf to all that He was teaching about His Father.  But rather than losing His temper, or even just controlling it, Jesus performs a miracle instead.  He takes His negative emotions and transforms them into actions that heal.
     After reflecting on all of this, I went and sat beside Mason in the living room.  I admitted to him that I shared his same problem.  He wasn’t surprised to hear it; he’s been living with my temper and frustration for years.  But he was surprised when I suggested that we work together to help the other overcome it.
     I then brought him out to the kitchen and showed him a pile of drinking straws and a cup.  I explained that each time one of us chooses to not give in to our temper, we get to put a straw in the cup.  However, if one or the other of us loses our temper, we have to take a straw out.  When all the straws are in the cup, we get to decide together on prizes for ourselves.  Mason literally jumped on me and hugged out his agreement!
    So begins our “Temper Challenge.”  I’m hopeful it is going to work.  If Jesus could use His negative emotions to create miracles, the least Mason and I can do is learn to control ours.
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10 thoughts on “The “Temper Challenge”

  1. Wow!!! This post hit home hard and I am in awe with how you handled it. I am thinking me needs a cup to share with my littlest one. Wow! Thanks as always for your amazing ideas to help us better ourselves and our role as mom!

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  2. What a wonderful and creative idea to help your child learn to control his temper!

    I wish more parents cared about helping to bring out good character in their children. The world would be a better place!

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  3. You are such a good mom, Claire. You handled that situation far better than I could have for sure. I, too, get frustrated and angry with my kids and am definitely teaching them to do the same. I know in my heart when it’s happening that I need to stop, but I am having a hard time. I’m sure my kids would love the idea of helping me control my temper. We might need to come up with something like this! Thanks, Claire!

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  4. I hear you Pam! Even when I hear that voice in my head that tells me to cool down, I sometimes struggle in the moment to listen and obey it. But baby steps… Even if we can listen just once, we’ll be stepping on to the right path!

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  5. This post is our life. We have one child who particularly struggles with anger…of course, it’s no surprise that we have a tendency to respond in anger as well. We have been looking for ways to encourage him and work together on our issues…I’m definitely going to give this a shot.

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    • Welcome Kristen! So glad you found my blog and commented. Mason and I are still doing the “Temper Challenge.” There aren’t as many straws in the cup as I’d like, but at least there are some. One day at a time… I hope you stop by again!

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