Handling Our Emotions In A Healthy Way

About 2 years ago, my then 5 year old Cooper started having night terrors.  They. Were.  Horrible.  As night terrors go, he would “wake up” (seem awake, but really still asleep…eyes open and all!) screaming or crying at the top of lungs…talking out of his mind and pacing in his room or even walking out of his room (SOOOO scary)!

The silver lining in night terrors is that kids don’t remember them.  And he didn’t.  But there were a couple that were so very bad that we couldn’t settle him without completely waking him up.  And he was absolutely terrified with what happened to him when he woke up.
Y’all, it got to the point that he was scared to go to sleep because he was scared he would have another night terror (even though he wouldn’t remember them!)  Crazy, right??  It was.  And it was also heartbreaking.
In no way could I tell my son, “Don’t be scared.  There’s no reason to be scared.”  Because his feelings were absolutely real.  And I had to validate his feelings.  But I also couldn’t allow him to live in his fears…and sleep with mom and dad every night!! 🙂
One of my favorite Bible verses ever is Philippians 4:8.

We started speaking this verse over him every night.  We prayed this verse.  We repeated this verse.  And this verse was the last thing he heard before he fell asleep each night.  It became Cooper’s Bible verse.
Along with the verse, we also made a list of 3-5 things that made him feel happy and safe.  When he began to feel scared or upset, we taught him to literally grab hold of that thought and throw it up to God, based on the verse, “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (and thanks to a friend who told me she used this when she felt anxious).
Once he had thrown his scary thoughts up to God, he repeated his 3-5 things out loud.  Sometimes, his list was longer and sometimes he repeated the same 3 or 4 things over and over.
“Sharks, Mommy, Daddy, dinosaurs, and trains. Sharks, Mommy, Daddy, dinosaurs, and trains.  Sharks…”

He was literally fixing his thoughts on good things.  Just like Philippians 4:8.  As he called out the good, you could actually see his face change from scared to a sense of safety.  We would quote Philippians 4:8 and kiss him goodnight.  
We did this for a solid week without fail.  And in the meantime asked some people to pray for him.  And praise the Lord, God chose to heal Cooper of his night terrors!  And he hasn’t had one in over 2 years after having them every single night for several weeks.
We learned a lot during those weeks of night terrors.  And the main thing was how to handle negative emotions in a healthy way.  That’s one of the reasons I felt so strongly about adding this lesson into my Kindergarten Sunday School unit on health.  ALL emotions can be healthy within reason and God created us as emotional people.  So, it’s important to validate them and not dismiss them.  But we do have to CHOOSE to deal with them in a Biblical, healthy way.  
We can honor God with our emotions by reacting in a healthy way.
You can grab these response sheets for FREE here.  They are also included in my Christian Health unit along with the lesson and 5 other lessons!


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