Anger—was that the emotion driving James Holmes to step into a Colorado movie theater and begin firing? Is it the emotion that drives so many people to maim and kill innocent bystanders? Anger seems to boil beneath the surface in people and then suddenly explode in destructive actions.
We also see anger in such behaviors as road rage, neighbor against neighbor in court, new vehicles keyed in parking lots, and family abuse.
There are times when anger is the appropriate emotion. Christ expressed justifiable anger at the Pharisees for their hardness of heart (Mark 3:5) and at the people buying and selling in the temple. (Matthew 21:12).
It’s good for our children to feel anger when they see injustice, but we must teach the skills they need to control anger or to handle it in an appropriate manner.
Have you seen children explode in anger because of the action of a playmate? That’s the right age to begin teaching the four steps for dealing with anger.
Step 1: Pause to Think about the Cause of Your Anger
As a child, I was taught to count to ten before doing or saying anything. When you see your child becoming angry, gently hold her hand as you explain, “Wait a minute. Let’s think about this.”
Step 2: Describe What Caused Feelings of Anger
Help your child explain to the child who has wronged her how she feels. Stand close and help her find the words. “I don’t like for you to take my toy without asking,” is better than, “I hate you!”
Step 3: Pause and Listen to Other’s Anger
Teach your child to pause so that the other person has a chance to speak his side of the incident. If she interrupts, touch her arm as you remind her that she must let the other person finish.
Step 4: Go from Anger to Compromise
As you begin to teach this skill, you will have to do most of the work. With practice, your child will learn the words of compromise.
What Scripture Says
“An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” (Proverbs 29:22 NIV) Congratulate your child that she is learning to handle her anger in a way that does not cause her to sin.
Question: How have you helped your child deal with anger?