Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kabbalistic Remedy for Tantrums

Question of the Week:


I am having major problems with my two year old. He has huge tantrums and is impossible to control. We are going crazy and don't know what to do. Is there some Kabbalistic formula to get a child to behave?




If you are seeking a magical incantation that will instantly bring your child into line, I can't help you. But here is a Kabbalistic idea that may give you some guidance.


The Kabbalah teaches that there is a parent/child relationship going on within every one of us. In that relationship, intellect is the parent, and emotion is the child.


Our emotions, like children, are colourful and fun, wild and untamed, impulsive and erratic. Emotions know no boundaries, have no sense of proportion, and are not reasonable. Our heart can take us to great heights of pleasure and happiness, or can lead us down dark paths of confusion and hurt. This is because our heart is full of vitality and energy, but lacks one important skill: it has no direction.


When we thoughtlessly follow our heart, we get lost. We can fall in love with the wrong person, get angry for no good reason, or be scared of our own imaginary ghosts. It is our mind that provides direction and perspective, education and guidance. A cool and clear-thinking mind can calmly direct the heart to feel the right emotion at the right time; when to love and when to fear, when to get excited and when to hold back.


The same holds true for being parents to our children. A child is a bundle of emotion, spontaneous and moody, passionate and irrational. This is what makes children so lovable and so impossible. They have not yet developed the ability for mind to direct heart. And so, the parent must stand in and play the role of the mind for the child, to help them tell right from wrong, to guide them to channel and control their emotions.


This means that a good parent must have all the characteristics of the mind: calmness, clarity, and consistency. The child doesn't always obey the parent, just like at times emotions are too strong to listen to intellect. But even then, the message must be conveyed in a clear and calm manner.


If your child is tantruming, then he is playing his role well. Your role is to keep your composure and let him know that what he is doing is unacceptable. This may not magically stop his tantrums, but it will give him a model of mature behaviour - that mind controls heart, like a parent directs a child.


Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss

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