Anger In Children

Last week’s sermon was on the deadly sin of anger/wrath. Some leftover or specific additional content that I did not share was about anger in children.  Many parents can be confused or go crazy for why their child manifests regular emotions of anger or wild rage. Anger often arrives for reasons such as: frustration, fear, hurt/threat of hurt, injustice that needs defending (righteous), or perhaps it is simply a modeled habit (from a parent, person, or entertainment/media source) for them to repeat. A wise parent would do well to ask questions to discern the root of their child’s anger. Here are some example questions:

Frustration or Fear:
Who has the power to make me frustrated or afraid?
What makes me get frustrated or afraid?
When do I feel frustrated or afraid?
Where do I get frustrated or afraid?
Why do I feel frustrated or afraid?
How do I express my frustration or fear?

Hurt/ Threat of Hurt/ Injustice
Who or What has hurt me in the past that may cause me to be angry with them?
What injustice do I see that may stir my anger?

Learned/ Modeled
Who shows anger around me?
Where do I see others get angry?
What do I do when I see anger?
How do I feel when I see anger?

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Colossians 3:21 “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” 

In addition, Scripture exhorts parents not to provoke their children to anger. Apparently heart_4that was/is a problem (hmm, not me, never!). The command to not provoke children to anger reminds parents that children are persons in their own right and God’s image, who are not to be exasperated, exploited, crushed, controlled, or manipulated in harmful ways. Your children belong to God and are on loan to you to parent and shepherd their hearts before the Lord. 

Lou Priolo suggests 25 Ways Parents Provoke Children To Anger.[1] The list is not exhaustive but some of the most common patterns that parents can provoke their children to anger.

  1. Lack of marital harmony (Gen 2:24; Heb 12:15)
  2. Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home (Prov 29:15)
  3. Modeling sinful anger (Prov 22:24-25)
  4. Habitually disciplining while angry (Ps 38:1; Eph 4:26-27; James 1:19-20)
  5. Scolding (Eph 4:29; Mark 14:3-5)
  6. Being inconsistent with discipline (2Cor 1:17-18; Eccl 8:11)
  7. Having double standards (Php 4:9)
  8. Being legalistic (Matt 15:8-9)
  9. Not admitting wrongs or asking forgiveness (Matt 5:23-24; James 5:16)
  10. Constantly finding fault (Job 32:2-3)
  11. Parents reversing God-given roles (Eph 5:22-24)
  12. Not considering child’s opinion or their side of the story (Prov 18:3, 17)
  13. Comparing child to other children (2Cor 10:12)
  14. Not making time to talk (James 1:19; Eccl 3:7)
  15. Not praising or encouraging child (Rev 2:2-4)
  16. Failing to keep promises (Matt 5:37; Ps 15:4-5; Col 3:9)
  17. Chastening in front of others (Matt 18:15)
  18. Not allowing enough freedom (James 3:17; Luke 12:48)
  19. Allowing too much freedom (Prov 29:15; Gal 4:12)
  20. Mocking your child (Job 17:1-2; Ex 4:11)
  21. Abusing child physically (1Tim 3:3; Num 22:7-9)
  22. Ridiculing or name calling (Eph 4:29)
  23. Unrealistic expectations (1Cor 13:11)
  24. Practicing favoritism (Luke 15:25-30; also Isaac & Rebekah with Jacob and Esau)
  25. Child training methodologies inconsistent with God’s word (Eph 6:4)

The list is considerable and convicting. Again, parents would be wise to evaluate their parenting attitudes and actions so to raise children who are both whole and holy. It’s a brave and broken world that calls for families to bolster themselves in the bedrock truth of God’s Word. Parenting is hard work because it’s heart work. May the Lord give grace and peace to families for growing godly generations.

Also see: Parenting In Proverbs Proverbs_Raising Next Gen

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[1] Lou Priolo, The Heart of Anger: Practical Help For The Prevention And Cure Of Anger In Children, pp.30-51.

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