“When I get angry, I become a different person.” “My kids are constantly walking on eggshells around me because they’re afraid to make me angry.” “I feel afraid of getting angry because I never know how I’ll react.” “Why did I do it? I don’t know, I lose control when I get angry.” If any of these statements sound like you, anger issues may be at the root. Even if you don’t fully relate to these statements but feel concerned about your anger problems, keep reading.
Normal Anger Versus Anger Problems
Feeling angry is a normal human emotion. It’s also one that we’re often not taught to manage well. As a result, some folks repress their anger and it explodes out in unhealthy and sometimes even dangerous ways. Others don’t have any idea how to deal with their anger so it can easily get out of control.
Normal anger expressions and coping are not harmful to others. We all have said something harmful in a heated moment of anger. As long as this is not a regular occurrence it is of lesser concern. We begin to get concerned about anger management when anger is always expressed in damaging ways.
Those who are dealing with a typical response to anger can usually calm themselves down. They may be able to walk out of the room, do deep breathing, or engage in another practice to calm down. Folks dealing with anger issues may explore and escalate without being able to calm down.
Anger is also a normal stage of grief. This stage of grief can sometimes get out of control and need more support to manage. Shock, numbness, and fear often go with anger at this stage.
It is helpful to think about righteous anger vs unrighteous anger. Jesus got angry. We know that while anger is not always sin it usually is one. Asking, “Is this something Jesus would be angry about?” may be helpful. We live in a broken and fallen world with many things that are cause for righteous and holy anger. Those things call for a righteous and holy response. Gauging our responses to our anger can help us determine if they’re in alignment with God or out of control.
Anyone can struggle with anger management issues. However, they seem to occur with higher frequency among those who have abuse or neglect in their past. It is not known why this happens but is most often thought to be a manifestation of the anger felt over the abuse.
Those who struggle with addiction often have anger issues. They may become angry when needing a “fix” of their addiction or be angered because of their addiction. The guilt and shame felt over an addiction can also manifest as anger. Some folks become angry when drinking so alcoholics may often have anger problems.
Those with anxiety or depression also seem to be more likely to deal with anger issues. Some counselors and therapists believe depression is anger turned inward instead of outward. Those who struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder may also be more prone to anger issues. Times of high stress or periods of prolonged stress may also lead to difficulties with anger management.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder is a clinical condition in which these symptoms manifest intensely. These individuals have episodes that last half an hour or longer. They may also become violent, throw fits of anger, or rage for extended amounts of time.
Warning signs of unhealthy anger management include-
- A “short fuse”
- Picking fights- either verbal or physical
- Becoming angry over things that seem to not bother others
- Acting without thinking/ impulsive actions when angry
- Easily getting angry
- Lack of patience
- Anger appearing as an initial emotion
- Inability to calm down
- Blaming others
- Interference with relationships because of anger outburst
- Withdrawn social interaction out of fear of uncontrollable anger
- Shutting down when angry
- Frequent name-calling, criticizing, belittling, and/or demeaning others
- Family and friends don’t come around as often or seem to be “walking on eggshells”
- Children and teens/ young adults may display difficulties in school or may fight often
- Guilt after an anger episode
Physical symptoms may include:
Mild chest pain
Rapid heart rate
Increased blood pressure
A burst of energy and then fatigue
Please note: always do what you need to do to ensure your own safety that of those you live with/those around you. Folks struggling with anger issues are usually harmless but may become dangerous, especially in Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Call 911 or a domestic violence hotline if needed. Securing safety is the first step, relationships can be repaired but only after safety is established.
Faith-based Anger Management Techniques
Counseling is a great place to start. Your counselor can help you identify the source of your anger. Together you’ll work through unresolved issues that may be leading to your inability to control anger.
A Christian counselor can also help you understand the difference between righteous and unrighteous anger. If you’ve done damage as a result of your anger, they can also help with reconciling and repairing relationships.
You may also get connected to a Support Group or Treatment Program through a counseling office. Counselors can also help teach anger management techniques like those below and help you figure out which are best for you. Techniques you may be encouraged to try include:
Prayer: Prayer can be calming and soothing in and of itself. Seeking God’s help with managing our emotions can be a powerful and humbling experience.
Meditation: Christian meditation techniques have been shown helpful in regulating and managing emotions. They’re also good for calming the nervous system. Practices to consider include centering prayer, lectio divina, loving-kindness meditation, etc.
Breathing Techniques: Calming our breathing can relax us and our nervous systems. Your counselor can help teach you different breathing techniques such as circular breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and box breathing, among many others.
Relaxation Techniques: There are dozens of different relaxation techniques that we would all enjoy learning! Some incorporate what we’ve discussed already.
Avoiding Triggers: Many people recognize certain things trigger their anger more than others. A counselor will work with you to identify these triggers and help with strategies to avoid them. This avoidance will not need to be permanent but may be necessary while working on managing emotions.
Think Before You Speak or Act: Speaking and acting in the heat of the moment is often destructive. Counting backward from ten while breathing may be enough to calm the mind before responding. Or walk away and take some space as soon as you feel angry, so you don’t act out of a bad mindset.
Screen Time Management: Excessive screen use and exposure is an anger trigger for lots of people. Decreasing screen time can be helpful. More regular breaks during screen use may also be advised.
Addiction Management: As mentioned above, many addicts struggle with anger. The addiction needs to be addressed as the primary concern. Anger management will come along as well.
Exercise: Having an alternative outlet for anger can be helpful. Exercise also helps to calm the nervous system and get the body out of the fight/flight mode. This can have profoundly calming effects. Options to consider include running, brisk walking, swimming, yoga, Cross Fit, and much more. Large gross motor activities can also be helpful for some folks like moving large objects
Lifestyle Changes and Alternative Medicine: There are lifestyle changes and alternative medicine folks sometimes incorporate. These include:
- Dry skin brushing
- Flower Essences
- Craniosacral Therapy
- Dietary changes
Fortunately, there are lots of tools to help us manage our anger. Many have found themselves in a situation where they struggled to manage their anger. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. God has given us many great tools to help manage our anger.
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Do you struggle with anger issues? If so, this article will provide several Bible verses about anger to help you overcome.
But first, what words come to mind when you think of the word “anger”? Maybe things like:
Anger is one of the most difficult emotions to feel and manage. It can grip you and make you feel like you have lost all control. Often it leads to other emotions, like jealousy, bitterness, greed, selfishness. Anger is like the tip of an iceberg. It is what most people see on the surface, but there is usually more emotion that lies beneath the surface. It can cause a lot of damage when not managed well.
The church has traditionally taught (intentionally or unintentionally) that anger is sin, but this article will help you see actual Bible verses about anger to confirm the Bible’s teaching. Because it is real and difficult to control, the Bible talks about it often.
Humans have struggled with it since the Fall. Consider the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was angry with and jealous of his brother Abel, so much so that he murdered him. There are stories of angry kings, angry people groups, and an angry God (yes, God and Jesus both demonstrated anger in Scripture).
People in Scripture murder, destroy, mistreat others, and question God when angry. Anger is not sin. What you do with it can be. Unfortunately, many times in Scripture you see anger being mishandled in sinful ways.
Today, many people have anger issues, and they are not sure what to do with them. They yell or hit or curse or throw. Though this will not be an exhaustive list of anger management skills, it will point to Bible verses about anger. Here are a Bible verses about anger. Not all will be explained, but some will.
Bible Verses about Anger
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. – James 1:19-21
The worst anger reactions come from impulsive, quick decisions made in anger. It does not say here to not ever become angry. It says to be “slow to anger.” If you respond quickly in anger, you probably are not living in the way God wants you to live. Consider your anger reactions.
Do you speak more than listen? Do you react in defensiveness? Are you able to slow down, take a breath, and listen? Listen to what the Holy Spirit says to you, or listen to what another is saying. When you have listened, and when you have taken enough time to carefully consider your response, then respond.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:26-32
In this passage, sinful anger is described as when you go to sleep angry, when foul language comes out of anger, when your anger reactions grieve the Holy Spirit because it comes out in harmful ways, when it lingers long enough to become bitterness, unforgiveness, wrath, harmful words, and yelling. This is when anger is sin.
God wants you to show kindness and compassion, to speak words that lift up instead of tear down, to forgive instead of hold bitterness. These are the opposite of problematic and sinful anger reactions. When you are angry, slow down end consider ways to demonstrate compassion and kindness in your reaction.
Colossians 3:8 is a similar passage. Consider your anger. Do you tend to hold bitterness and struggle to forgive? Are you able to show compassion when angry? Is your anger harmful to others? A counselor can help you work through any bitterness and old hurt you may have so that you can have peace from the toxicity of unforgiveness.
Psalm 27:8-9 speaks of refraining from anger because it leads to evil. Jesus says in Matthew 5 that murder begins in the heart as anger. There are many more examples of anger in Scripture, but what is important to understand is how destructive it can be when you let go of the reins. Anger in charge is dangerous.
Some Verses about Anger from the Book of Proverbs
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. – Proverbs 29:11
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. – Proverbs 19:11
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. – Proverbs 15:18
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man. – Proverbs 22:24
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. – Proverbs 14:29
Patience is often described as the opposite of anger. James 1 speaks of something similar. It goes back to Ecclesiastes 7:9 about being slow to become angry. To feel anger is a part of being human and made in the image of God. Righteous anger can lead to social injustices being remedied. It can lead to change in beautiful ways.
When anger is impatient and not calm, wise, or thoughtful, it leads to foolish action. That action can be hurtful to self and others. It is imperative to learn calming techniques to help you slow down and think about what you need to do in anger.
Do you struggle with impatience? Are you someone who has to be right or make a point in every conversation? Do you allow another to share his or her point of view? Do you react quickly? Do you know how to stay calm while angry? If you are unsure of how to calm yourself and gain self-control in this way, talk with a counselor. He or she can teach you how.
Sometimes anger feels justified. A person you trusted abused you. A friend betrayed you. A parent abandoned you. People around you are mistreated. A peer bullied you. Your child lied to you. Someone cut you off in traffic. Your addict sister stole all the money out of your account. You were made to grow up much faster than you should have been.
Anger is simply a feeling, but it can be destructive like a volcano. It is always appropriate for you to read and meditate on these passages of Scripture. Consider truth and spend time there. Let God show you how to have self-control, to be patient and kind and compassionate and forgiving.
Jesus had every right to be angry with mankind, just as you may have. They brutally beat him and killed him on a cross. They betrayed him. They rejected him. They left him to die. They spit on him and mocked him and made his house a house of robbers.
There were moments when he was angry and showed that, but you know how he usually responded? In compassion and grace. He spoke the truth in assertive ways that were meant to build up the audience, but he still did so in love. If you need an example, study his life.
Christian Counseling for Anger Issues
Anger does not have to get the final say in your life. It does not have to win anymore. Decide today to take your anger back. Decide to submit to the words of Scripture instead. Find methods that help you to calm down enough to think about each decision so that your anger no longer is hurtful. For additional help with anger management, visit our counselor directory today to schedule a counseling appointment.
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School is a place where memories are made. The memories can be pleasant – made with great teachers and fun friends. Or, it can be a place of pain and struggles. When children display different behaviors than their peers do, they can be misunderstood which can ignite reactions that can be very hurtful.
Teachers and parents often try to make things better and to ensure that going to school is a good experience, but when concerning behavioral issues that center around a child’s anger, it is sometimes out of their control.
Anger Management for Kids: Therapeutic Techniques for Children
Below you will find a few of the top techniques used to treat anger management for children in the classroom which can be helpful to parents, teachers, and of course, to the children who are exhibiting the anger involved.
Getting to the Root Source
One method that can help children who are in need of managing their issues of anger is to actually understand their anger and anger in general. Oftentimes, where the anger is actually stemming from is a complete mystery to teachers, parents, the school staff, the child’s peers, and even to the child. It is extremely helpful to identify the source of it so change can begin.
Below you will find some questions to inquire of the parent and child or even for parents to ponder when figuring out which information they will ultimately share with the staff at the school in the even the child does have a behavioral change:
- Does the parent/guardian or child acknowledge or recognize the angry behavior?
- What do the child, parent/guardian, or therapist think is the root of the anger?
- When the child is upset, what emotion do they express they are feeling?
- How is the anger managed at home?
- Is any help being sought from an outside situation such as therapy or a family doctor?
- Is outside assistance being given by anyone in order to help manage the behavior and anger?
Information can be share in multiple ways so that the families and the school can keep open communication and are able to discuss ways the child’s problem can be properly managed.
It’s very helpful for a teacher to be aware of how the anger began in the child and to know if perhaps the issue started following a family loss in which case the teacher and staff can be sympathetic to the situation. Sometimes even being sleepy or medical condition may cause behaviors that manifest like anger. Some mental disorders (such as defiant conditions) give way to authority issues as well.
Diagnoses in Children
Moments in the lives of children can be completely confusing, overwhelming and unique. Listed below are some diagnoses that may be the source of anger in children:
- Intellectual Disability (or, Development Disorder) It is common for the initial onset of this condition to occur when both intellectual devolopment and adaptive development is taking place. It affects practical domains, social functioning, and conceptual development and can cause problems in school, at home, and in the community as well.
- Hyperactivity Disorder (Attention Deficit): This condition involves a constant and persistent pattern where hyperactivity and/or inattention interferes with the ability to properly function. It may lead to behavioral and learning issues and problems with peers, authority figures, and other social relationships.
- Disruptive Mood and Dysregulation Disorder: To qualify for this disorder, the child must manifest the onset of symptoms prior to ten years of age. Severe, chronic irritability, aggression that is directed to other people, themselves, or objects are signs of the disorder. It is imperative to get help given the serious nature of the issue.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (females who are teen and pre-teen): Anger and irritability are two prevalent signs of this condition. The last week before menstruation often marks the peak time of emotional outbursts and exaggerated moods. The week after the period, symptoms usually disappear.
- Social Phobia and Anxiety: When a situation of a social nature produces such intense anxiety the child clings, freezes up, cries, or won’t speak, it is quite possibly the sign of a social anxiety or phobia.
- Reactive Attachment: When a child seldom seeks comfort at times he is distressed and has few affections that are positive yet displays frequent episodes where he has unexplained irritability, extreme sadness without cause, or exaggerated fearfulness, there is concern that he may have the disorder of reactive attachment.
- Oppositional Defiance: A child who easily and often loses his temper and who is touchy and frequently and easily annoyed may have oppositional defiance issues, especially when it involves an adult or person of authority.
- Intermittent Explosive: Initiating verbal or physical fights or aggression displays is a sign of Intermittent Explosiveness. Throwing temper tantrums, hurting animals, and/or destruction of property are other symptoms.
- Conduct Disorder: A child who frequently bullies or threatens others or has tendencies to be mean or cruel to humans and/or animals very well may have this serious disorder.
- Post-Traumatic Stress: Especially following an incident that traumatized him, a child may exhibit irritable behavior and/or outbursts of anger which apparently without cause.
Discovering and understanding what lies behind the behavior of a child can help pave the way for solutions. Management techniques can be set into place and followed through with by parents and family members, teachers and other school staff members, and the child himself.
Anger Management for Kids: Top Techniques
Here are a few top techniques that can be helpful in managing anger issues in children:
Taking the focus off the problem is one way young children can be taught to deal with things that tend to stem their negative behavior. If a troubled child is having problems with another child on the playground, inviting the child to play in a different area can discourage conflict and detour the child’s focus.
Redirection gives a child the opportunity to discover alternative options and to play with other people in other places. Some children do not yet possess the skills to redirect their own selves so the supporting adult can introduce the redirections instead.
Identifying, Expressing, and Sharing Feelings
It takes a good bit of awareness from the person who’s responsible for the redirection but involving the child when doing so will help the child learn to problem solve on his own eventually.
It is very important for the child to be able to pinpoint when they’re experiencing a certain emotion which could cause an anger outburst. Charts that measure and identify feelings are priceless tools to use for this cause. Encouraging the child to chart his feelings can lead to him better understanding them over time.
When confusion sets in, children may not be able to identify emotions and feelings on their own. The chart gives the child choices to identify with rather than having to think them up all on his own. Parents and teachers can choose what they are feeling too which adds to the chance of success and will make the child more comfortable in sharing his own feelings.
Expressing emotions is a difficult thing at times for anyone, especially when it is a child doing so. They are not always mature enough to distinguish fear from anger or to tell the difference between being hurt and being mad.
Children who are creative and like to draw or write can be prompted to express their feelings through their writings or through art. Not only will they be able to get their feelings out but they can also learn more about themselves and begin to explore positive solutions to negative feelings or emotions.
A child might draw a picture of how they are feeling which might involve something like a frown and hair that is haphazard. A teacher might study the picture and begin to note that the child feels out of control. This discovery can spur the teacher to implement measures that will help the child feel they are more in control again.
There are some children who possess verbal skills that can adequately express to others their feelings after they begin to recognize what’s going on. It is imperative to listen to a child who is speaking of their feelings without any form of judgement or even correction. Just allow the child to talk freely.
Self-expression is the key to identifying and dealing with emotions. It can help both the adult supporter and the child find where anger may be stemming from. The goal is to allow the child to share whether it is through art or by speaking. It is vital the child feels he can express his emotions safely.
Other helpful measures can be set into place like allowing the child to have snacks when he is hungry. There can be a designated time and place for snacks or the child can approach the adult in charge when he feels the need arise. Other children in the class may be allowed to partake in a snack too if the teacher feels such a thing would be of value.
There are many solutions that can be put into play that will be a great help for teachers, parents, and even the child. These things may take a little time to set up and to implement but they are well worth the extra effort.
Regulation of Self
Teaching children ways in which to regulate themselves is very powerful. Those who learn to can begin to take steps to identify, express and share. The child, school and even the parents can all work synergistically to create a plan that all are aware of in which the child can learn of new choices he has when feeling angry or upset. Some suggestions are listed below:
- Encouraging the child to take some breaks during the day with a person who is safe or in an area that is safe is wise so emotions don’t just build up and fester.
- Since hunger and blood sugar issues can aggravate behavioral problems, having healthy snacks available is a good idea.
- The use of a behavioral chart which is created by the student is a tool that can assist in accountability and can be an opportunity for good behavior to be rewarded.
- When the student is experiencing a feeling of emotion, encourage him to draw or write in his notebook. The notebook can be given to him by any supporting adult like his parent or teacher. He can even be allowed to create his own.
When children are first learning to regulate themselves, they require the diligent support of the adults who are around them. It is a good idea to have a list of plans that you and your child have created and studied over. These pre-planned actions and reactions are helpful so the child does not have to rely upon his own actions and impulses which may not be mature or conducive to the situation.
By incorporating a plan, children can experience the freedom to control and regulate by simply choosing one or more of the approved choices so they will ultimately be able to control more of the behavior and can more effectively manage their anger.
Finally, a prime technique for managing anger in class is having support from the staff and teachers at school, parents and other family members, and even those at church like Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders. The more support and love your child has, the better his chance of overcoming is.
When your child feels understood, supported, and unconditionally loved, it sets the scene for positive changes to take place. Having support from others is priceless. It helps the parent and the child know that they are not in
Being aware of what takes place in all the different arenas of the life of your child is a huge help. As you learn more, changes can begin to take place.
Are you searching for a child counselor to help support you for anger based issues? Our counselors are ready and able to help you learn to manage anger and get to the root. Call today for more information.
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A child who frequently explodes in anger may be struggling in a number of ways that can’t all be addressed in a limited space. Everyone is born with a distinct personality. Some children struggle with disabilities that are very difficult to cope with. Others may be reacting negatively to changes in their lives. These or any number of other factors can lead to anger problems in a child.
When trying to figure out a solution to a child’s anger problem, it’s important to consider the root causes first. Scripture also provides us with some overall principles we can apply in our parenting to help our child learn to cope with problems they encounter in life.
Typically, parenting styles that result in angry children lack consistency. For example, parents may be permissive on a day-to-day basis, but become controlling in a time of stress or tension. There are also parents who are more authoritarian but who struggle to positively connect with their kids in the good times or to help them be more independent.
Often, parents alternate between authoritarian and permissive styles of managing their kids, which leads to a frustrated child who can’t rely on clear boundaries. A lack of consistency in leadership and discipline creates a feeling of chaos, which does not help a child to develop coping skills leading to mature adulthood.
Parenting with Love and Logic is a landmark parenting book written by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. The authors juxtapose “the Drill Sergeant” and the “Helicopter Parent” to demonstrate authoritarian vs. overprotective parenting styles.
A Drill Sergeant constantly gives commands and seeks to control their child’s every move, preventing the child from feeling autonomous. This behavior subliminally communicates to a child that they are not smart enough to make any independent decisions.
Meanwhile, the Helicopter Parent hovers over their child constantly, making sure to protect them from any difficulties they may encounter. The message this sends is that a child is not strong enough to survive in the world on their own and that they must always rely on their parent to protect them.
These two styles are examples of extreme parenting on either end. All children need their parents to provide both discipline and protection. It’s important to meet these needs using a balanced approach, rather than a polarized one.
In Ephesians 6:4, Paul writes that fathers are not to exasperate their children, but are instead to discipline and train them in the “instruction of the Lord.” This means that parents should not provoke their children to anger, but instead should teach and train them by exposing them to godly principles for the purpose of building their character.
The authors of Parenting with Love and Logic share four areas of parenting that we can focus on to help our children form their characters. In the same way, we can see in the Bible how God molds and shapes the characters of his people in these areas.
Here are the four areas:
1. Set expectations for behavior
2. Set consequences for failing to meet the expectation
3. Follow through compassionately with a consequence when the expectation is not met
4. Encourage the child to try again
This model seeks to help a child learn from their poor decision-making instead of focusing on how their parents are going to react. Often we see an angry response in children who are trying to be independent but are not being trained how to make their own responsible choices.
This article will discuss how using this parenting approach is a way to model God’s discipline and love for his children.
In Deuteronomy 28:13-15, we see that the Lord set his commands in covenant form before his people, and told them what the consequences of obedience and disobedience would be. In this, we see that he has expectations of them to make a choice for obedience, along with the freedom to make that choice.
Since God created us knowing that we would sin against him, he could have taken away our ability to make decisions, but he didn’t, even though we do read in Genesis 6:6 that he was “deeply troubled” that he had created humans.
Sometimes parents struggle with seeing their children more as extensions of themselves rather than individuals in their own right. Because of this, they desire them not to make any of the same mistakes that they made, not to fail in the areas in which they failed, and not to stress them out by making poor choices.
The problem with this mentality is that it is self-centered. In Scripture, we see that God acted for the good of his people, allowing them to learn from their sin, which was also for their ultimate good.
When we set expectations for our children, our goal should be to make those expectations very clear, as well as to make the consequences of disobedience clear. We must remember to consider each child’s current stage of development and what they need to learn at this point in time.
If at this time a child needs to learn to clean up after themselves, there should be a clear expectation that they need to clean their room every day. To ensure that this is clear, a child should be able to explain what that looks like and what the consequence will be if the room is not clean.
Inconsistent parents often set impulsive expectations based on the emotion of the moment. Then the child has to deal with the emotional parent as well as their own personal decisions.
A child who reacts in anger has probably chosen to maintain their own independence instead of remaining connected to their parent(s). They are frustrated by their parent’s emotional expectation-setting and don’t feel that they have the opportunity to make an independent choice to obey, so they control the environment by getting angry.
Instead, what they need is for their parent to help them think through their actions. This starts by setting those clear expectations that are developmentally appropriate.
Consequences can be challenging for a parent to deliver. It’s important not to give a consequence out of an emotional reaction or on the spur of the moment. Consequences are part of training.
A parent who isn’t thinking of the big picture simply reacts to their child’s behavior instead of acting deliberately and intentionally. This is modeling emotional reactivity and ultimately anger for the child. This lack of proper boundaries provokes a child to anger by failing to teach them how to learn from their mistakes.
In Scripture, we see that God disciplines his children out of love and for their good. In Genesis 3:17, Adam fails to accept responsibility for disobeying God’s command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In response, God disciplines Adam by telling him that he will now have to work for the food he eats. In the future, if Adam doesn’t obey by working, he won’t have anything to eat.
Consequences are simply healthy discipline. They are a way to train a child to behave properly by allowing them to experience the results of disobedience. Proverbs 22:15, which refers to the rod driving folly out from the heart of a child, is more than just a lesson on spanking – it also refers to wholehearted discipline.
Angrily spanking a child may not help them learn how to behave well. It may just model anger. The purpose of discipline is not to get revenge on a child for their behavior; it’s to provide a safe environment in which they can learn how to change their behavior by experiencing consequences when they don’t obey.
A child who is allowed to watch television, use electronic devices, or play video games, but does not clean their room until being yelled at repeatedly, is not being taught about the importance of “work before play.” We can see an immediate correlation between this type of parenting and students who fail the first semester of college because there’s no parent to yell at them, and no one has taught them the value of delayed gratification and a good work ethic.
Instead, a child should be taught that the expectations for cleanliness must be met before they are free to enjoy entertainment. This expectation can be clearly set and relies on a logical consequence, not merely anger or a momentary emotional reaction from a parent.
Disciplining a child this way is done out of love. It’s a necessary part of preparing them for adulthood. A needy, permissive parent does not discipline properly because they are worried about their children liking and affirming them. A controlling, reactive parent takes disobedience personally instead of seeing it as their responsibility to train their child.
Empathy and Do-Overs
When a child understands what they are expected to do and exactly what will happen if they don’t do it, they can focus on their own behavior rather than on their parent’s anger. In Jonah 3:10, we read, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
God uses compassionate discipline to bring people to repentance, whether they experience the discipline themselves or see someone else experience it. Through his grace, he allows us to start again after we’ve been disobedient. This is the process of sanctification in the life of a believer.
This is not to say that it’s easy to know when you’re being too harsh vs. too lenient as a parent. Either extreme is not healthy and can provoke a child to anger. To find a balance, make sure to tell your child you love them even as you follow through with a consequence.
Express your disappointment that your child has to experience the negative consequences of their behavior; not because you are personally offended by their behavior, but because you truly want them to enjoy the blessings of obedience.
Always be sure that anger is not used as a tool to try to teach your children how they’ve messed up. Healthy discipline helps a child realize that they are responsible for their own behavior. When they know their parent loves them and has compassion on them, and will give them another chance without defining them by their failures, a child can feel free to reflect on their own choices without shame. Yelling does nothing but cause resentment.
The principles in Parenting with Love and Logic can be tied to principles we find in Scripture about godly, loving discipline. For the first 18 years of their lives, children depend on their parents to learn how to manage their impulses in a constructive way.
If a child is not struggling with a learning or developmental disability, anger problems are possibly a signal that they are frustrated with something in their home environment, and that parents are reacting instead of acting with love.
If you are seeing angry outbursts in your child on a regular basis, let me encourage you to reach out to a licensed christian therapist to help you get to the root of the issue. This can help give you the tools to train your child without exasperating them, providing you with a healthier relationship and a more peaceful home.
“Pouting,” courtesy of martakoton, pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Smile,” courtesy of Andrik Langfield Petrides, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Scream,” courtesy of Jason Rosewell, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Down and Out,” courtesy of Hunter Johnson, unsplash.com, CC0 License
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