How Can We Teach our Kids to Control Their Anger?
Are you a good or bad example of handling anger? Judah tells us how we can teach our kids to handle anger in ways pleasing to the Lord…starting with our reactions.
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
When I think of anger management several things pop into my head: stress balls, breathing techniques, screaming into a pillow, punching a wall (who would ever do that…). Unlike my sweet and kind-hearted wife, I can really struggle to control anger when I give into reacting immediately. So, knowing that disclaimer, all of what comes ahead in this article is what I’ve learned from scripture, examples of others’ success I’ve seen and many failures on my part.
- Model humility through confession and forgiveness. Scripture tells us to confess to one another (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9), and that confessing will bring healing! It takes a lot of humility to admit wrong, especially to a child, but the benefit is well worth it. By confessing to our children, we will open the door for vulnerability/honesty, thus providing a safe place to communicate the feelings we experience (good and bad). Then the habit won’t become internalizing or “bottling up” only to inevitability blow up later. They need to understand that everyone gets angry… even parents. Set this reality so kids don’t subscribe to an alternate truth. We get to set the tone of your household.
- Act. Don’t react. If only it was that simple! I often find my failure more prevalent in moments of immediate replies. After all, hind sight is always 20/20. Because we are sinners, the first move or thought we make tends to be rooted in the sin dwelling in our flesh. The Bible tells us specific ways to act and verbally respond towards others (Matthew 5:43-48, Romans 12:14-21, and many more). The key is acting on the scriptural expectations, not reacting to what our emotions or our culture say. The instructions are clear, but why do I fail in this every day? Let’s explore that next.
- Teach where self-control comes from. Unlike the mindset of the American dream, winning the battle of self-control is not done through sheer willpower. You see, self-control has nothing to do with our control, rather that of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:6 says, “to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”. When we choose to surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit we’re promised to receive the fruit of the Spirit, one of those being self-control (Galatians 5:23).
Teach your kids what it means to practice self-control by surrendering to the Holy Spirit. Only then will we truly act like Jesus, rather than reacting in our human nature. Thank God today for the gift of His Spirit and the self-control He brings.
What things have made you mad this week? What did you want to do/say? Try taking at least five minutes (maybe a whole day or even an entire week!) to process before reacting next time you’re angry. Why is it important to be careful how you react when you’re angry?