Families, communities, and nations are stronger when children are taught to control their emotions and to use words to express their needs. Children do not need to cry or throw temper tantrums when they do not get what they want. In fact, they – and their families – are much happier when they are taught that temper tantrums and crying do not work.
I have several grandchildren who have gone the crying/temper tantrum route. It is an unpleasant experience for everyone around them. Some of my grandsons actually threw themselves on the floor and kicked their feet when they were told “no.” I have a granddaughter who started kindergarten this fall and learned the hard way that temper tantrums do not work in elementary school.
I tell my grandchildren that crying and temper tantrums do not work with me. Some of them have pushed the boundary and learned that I meant what I said. Most of them quickly learn that I am fairly soft-hearted and will give them almost anything they want – but do not push me by throwing fits!
Some wise young parents I know taught this principle to their children with this saying: “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” I have heard the parents and older children repeat this saying numerous times.
When children learn at young ages to control their emotions, they grow into delightful teenagers and young adults. Many adults have not learned this very important lesson; this is show by the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and other out-of-control behavior on a national level. Children must learn to control their emotions in order to know how to control other passions.
There are several scriptures using the word “bridle;” the most applicable one is Alma, an ancient American prophet, teaching his son: “See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 38:12).
This same message was delivered by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in a General Conference address: “Every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are here on the earth to develop godlike qualities and to bridle all of the passions of the flesh….
“Alma counseled his son Shiblon to `bridle all [of his] passions, that [he] may be filled with love’ (Alma 38:12). Significantly, disciplining the natural man in each of us makes possible a richer, a deeper, and a more enduring love of God and of His children. Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases through impulsive indulgence” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign, May 2013, 43-44).
Alma used a common object in his day – a bridle - to illustrate the need to control emotions. Imagine trying to control a raging horse without a bridle of some kind on it! It would be almost impossible to control. Why is a bridle so important in controlling a horse? The head of a horse has very sensitive nerves, more than any other part of the body.
Bridles predate any written history and have been used for thousands of years on horses, donkeys, and camels. We know of their ancient existence because of artwork and artifacts.
A bridle consists of several important parts: (1) a bit – goes in the mouth in the sensitive area between the animal’s teeth, (2) crownpiece – goes behind the animal’s ears to keep the bridle in place, (3) browband – goes in front of the animal’s ears across its brow to keep the bridle on the head, (4) cheekpieces – one on either side of the head to connect all the pieces of the bridle; (5) throatlatch – goes under the throat of the animal to keep the bridle from slipping off; (6) reins – connect to the bridle on each side of the animal’s mouth with the other end held by the rider.
The Ensign article explains what we can learn from the bridle: “Affects an area of sensitivity. Bridling our passions means controlling emotions and desires… if we overcome our sensitivities, we can develop self-discipline.
“Is placed on animals that are of great use. We are told to `bridle all [our] passions,’ not to suppress or kill all our passions. Controlling our emotions and desires does not mean to stamp all of them out because they are all bad. Just as we bridle animals because they are useful and helpful, we bridle our passions so that we can control them and allow them to serve a higher purpose.
“Helps to tame and train. Just as wild animals can be hostile, unpredictable, and destructive, so can our passions and emotions be if left unchecked….
“Helps to direct. The reins attached to a bridle help us direct an animal in the way we would like it to go. Similarly, we can channel some strong emotions into good works or other appropriate outlets in order for us to become better people and of greater service….”
Alma taught that we must control our emotions in order to learn how to love other people. When we love someone, we put that person’s needs ahead of our own. If a person uses temper tantrum to get what they want, they definitely are not thinking about anyone else besides themselves! In order for our families, communities, and nations to be strong, we must teach our children to control their emotions and to “bridle” their passions.