ANGER: why: part 1
Sometimes we can trace our child’s anger to a certain trigger point, a hidden button somewhere lurking beneath the surface of a child’s heart which, when pushed just the right way, leads to angry outbursts. Now remember, no one can make anyone angry, it is each person’s responsibility to control their temper. Yet as a wise parent, we can watch for the underlying patterns in order to help our child overcome this sinful and destructive reaction.
Here are a few triggers the Scriptures make note of:
Some children (and some adults!) seem to need to try to control everything and everyone around them. That is not, in and of itself, a terribly bad quality. Our world is led by men and women who are not afraid to be out in front, leading the charge. But when that need for control leads a child to use anger as a means of the controlling people around him- watch out! It is our responsibility as parents to correct our children, teaching and training them how to use their leadership qualities wisely and well.
The problem with this trigger for anger is that it works! Friends, teachers, even parents, will often go out of their way to appease an angry child lest their anger develop into a full blown temper tantrum.
One of the reasons I am not a big fan of preschool is because the ages between 3 and 5 seem to be the optimal time for a mother to consistently teach her sons and daughters the intricacies of interpersonal relationships. While having a friend to your home to play for an afternoon, you can observe your child’s social behavior and gently correct negative patterns that emerge. By catching this tendency to use anger to control people early, you can often avoid confrontational clashes later with your child when the habit has been more fully formed.
Some children seem to be born with a quick fuse when it comes to obstacles in their path. Learning to tie their shoes can usher in hurricane force anger.
One day when my oldest son was 5 years old, we were sitting at the kitchen table while I helped him learn to write his letters. His frustration at not being able to write them “perfect” boiled over into a fit of all out rage. He threw his pencil across the kitchen, scrunched up the paper he had laboriously filled with marks, and let out a yell of unadulterated anger. Trying to calm him, I praised his letters, saying something motherly like, “But that’s a great M, you’re doing so well…”, to which he replied, “But its doesn’t look great to ME!” Ah, the pain of perfectionism.
After that outburst, I put away the pencils and didn’t allow the little guy to practice letters for a full 6 months. By that time his motor skills had matured remarkably and he was more able to produce the kind of letters his head told his hand to write.
You will need to help a child like this learn to patiently and persistently overcome obstacles by doing things with him. Sit beside him through those frustrations and be like a cheerleader encouraging him through the difficult process.
Do not allow him to take his anger out on people or property or he will be doing it for the rest of his life.
Look back here next week as we explore two more why’s of anger.
From my heart,
Some Scriptures to study:
Proverbs 16:21 (for your bossy controller)
James 1:19,20 (for moms and dads too!)
I Samuel 9-11 (study the life of Saul, a good leader whose anger ultimately drove him to insanity)