Whenever I give Christian parenting advice to young couples, one thing I always emphasize is the need to teach kids to control their anger.
Unmanaged anger can ruin a child’s life and the lives of those around him. The challenge, then, is for parents to teach their children to manage their anger. If parents fail here, their children are truly headed for a life of hurts.
A Principle to Remember: God desires that each of us learn to handle and express anger in appropriate ways.
Biblical Basis: “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).
Everyone gets angry. But there are appropriate and inappropriate ways of expressing this anger. Inappropriate expressions of anger include:
• attacking with hands, feet, and weapons (sticks, toys, and so forth).
• becoming verbally abusive — such as screaming and using expletives.
• throwing a tantrum and/or damaging property.
• becoming highly self-critical for failing to maintain control.
• withdrawing from those who caused the anger and not dealing with the anger at all.
• turning the anger inward where it will turn to bitter resentment.
Lowering the Emotional Temperature in Your Home
If your child is having difficulty with anger, it may be that your household needs to have its emotional temperature lowered. We must begin with ourselves as parents. It is important that we as parents model the correct way to handle anger for our children. They learn how to deal with their emotions by watching and imitating how mom and dad handle their emotions. If your kids are having a lot of problems in handling emotions well, you might want to do a self-examination to make sure you’re okay in this area.
In doing a self-examination, Dr. Ross Campbell has suggested that you ask yourself nine questions:
1. Do I vent my anger in a mature, responsible way?
2. Am I usually optimistic?
3. Do I complain about those in authority over me at church or work?
4. Do I show respect for my child’s other parent?
5. Do I want my children to develop character like mine?
6. Do I go off on tirades?
7. Do I forgive others easily?
8. Do I ask my children to forgive me when I’m wrong?
9. Are my children afraid to approach me because I might blow up?
By asking yourself these kinds of questions, you can learn to recognize blind-spots in your character. Correct these kinds of blind-spots and you may witness your child’s anger decreasing.
There are three further points that bear mentioning:
1. Teach your children simple coping techniques — such as taking a deep breath and counting to ten. Some cool-down time spent in one’s room can also be extremely beneficial as a means of avoiding rash actions or words.
2. Allow and encourage your children to verbally express their anger to you in a calm way. Children must be allowed to express why they feel the way they do, even if it involves pointing a finger toward you (and, yes, there will be occasions when they’re right about something you did wrong). If allowed to give verbal expression to their anger, kids will be less likely to give physical expression to their anger.
Of course, you must be careful not to allow your child to cross the boundary into disrespect. Verbal expressions are allowed but verbal assaults are off-limits.
3. Keep the lines of communication open and talk a lot. Your children need to know that mom and dad are always there with an open ear. If they feel like you never listen, their temperature will definitely rise on the anger barometer.
 Ross Campbell, “Quench the Embers of Anger," Single-Parent Family, 1996.
— Dr. Ron Rhodes