Anger can lead to full-blown rebellion in children. Lou Priolo lists five steps to destruction in his book, The Heart of Anger:
I. A wounded spirit – feeling “hurt”.
II. Bitterness – Ponder on an offense over and over in mind, refusing to overlook or forgive.
III. Anger – the pervasive kind that is characteristic of a child’s personality.*
IV. Stubbornness – being “pig-headed” at parental efforts to correct.
V. Rebellion – the final stage of being the kind of fool described in Proverbs.
*= This kind of anger is what God warns dads against provoking.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (NASB)
During a child’s informative years, we should not expect the child to be able to manage their anger well. Young children usually vent their angry in one of two ways:
Verbally – yelling name calling, sticking out tongue, screaming, claims “I hate you”
Physical – throwing things, biting, pinching, kicking, hitting, etc.
Verbal anger issues are easier to deal with, more so than physical anger.
Physical anger outburst should never be tolerated. The child needs to be able to understand early off that this kind of behavior will have consequences. Help the child to settle down by separating him from whatever is provoking the anger within him. When he’s calmed down, then biblically solve the problem together.
A toddler throwing a ‘temper tantrum’ needs to be taught self-control early in life. He needs to learn to give up his “own way” to follow God’s way.
The best way to defuse the anger within the child is to prevent it from being built in the first place.
Research has been done where it shows that ‘lack of love’ as a child increased anger and behavioral issues within a child. Every day make a point to look your child in their eyes and tell them you love them and give them a hug. Make sure they get plenty of love.
For the older children, monitor who they hang out with. Discourage your children from hanging around friends who have anger problems. God tells us: “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.” (Prov. 22:24-25).
When your child becomes angry due to an offense against him, teach him the principle in Matthew 18:15-17.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
- Teach your child to discuss respectfully an anger problem with the offending person, even if it is you.
- If the offender refuses to listen, then take 2 or 3 witnesses to resolve the problem.
- If unable to resolve the conflict peacefully, then the child should bring it to the attention of the parents (if they aren’t the offenders)
- Teach the principle nor to take vengeance for self. For God says in Romans 12:19, to “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
Children will need to learn through this that “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
In closing, remember to focus on the problem, not the person; expect children to act like children.
Proverbs 22:!5 says that foolishness is bound up the hearts of children so don’t be too surprised if it happens. Kids will be kids. View each situation as training grounds for Christ.
Romans 8:28 does state that “… we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”