ARTICLES

A CHILD’S ANGER.

Is anger wrong or sinful? In one word – NO.

I have been studying the effects of parent responses to a childs anger and have come up with some disturbing evidence (some in my own home) Yikes!

ANGER is a natural response. Even Jesus expressed anger at the temple. Everyone needs to vent their anger but children lack the maturity to do it appropriately, so we MUST set the example.

Why?
Consider a child who has just hit or kicked or yelled in frustration. The parent responds by yelling back “Don’t you speak like that!”or “Stop that!” Perhaps the parent lashes out and smacks the child dumping their own negative feelings on the child. What choice does the child have to respond? He could either choose to DISOBEY or he could run off, swallowing his feelings of anger & behave. Both have the same negative effect, not to mention that all forms of postive communication between the two, have now been put to death.

What are the long-term effects?
A child who bottles up their feelings almost surely will develop some sort of P.A behaviour. Passive-aggressive – two words that should send a chill down the spine of any parent. It is an UNCONSCIOUS behaviour that has one sole purpose – to upset the parent. The more upset the parent, the worse the situation gets AND its very hard to reverse, especially once the child enters their teen years.

Passive-aggressive behaviour results in poor learning, therefore poor school grades, stubborness, inefficiency, forgetfulness, poor bowel control (in the younger child) & eventually, drug abuse, under-age sex, runaways & even suicide. At the very least – one very disagreeable adult. And remember – its all unconscious behaviour – they don’t do it on purpose. Its suppressed anger in disguise.

SO, what should we do as parents?
Everyone needs to vent their anger but it should be done in an appropriate way. As mentioned before, children, until about age 15 or so, lack the maturity, so we must set the example.

Now would be a great time to reflect on the following verses.
“Fathers, do not provoke your child to anger (Eph 6:4) and “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov.22:6).

The best way to handle anger for an adult is in an open, honest, direct, verbal way – even pleasant if possible. This is also where problem solving-skills come into the equation, such as can be taught from a very young age.
Avoid the trap of punishing a child for something that is not normal or natural for them to deal with maturely. STAY CALM – close your eyes, even a blink, take a breathe then you will be in a much better position to deal with the behaviour and have a positive influence. Be christ-like or as we say in our house, do it with love. Even in the most horrifying of experiences, children have been known to open up to an adult when love is behind the parents motivation and attitude toward the child. It keeps the lines of communication OPEN.

At age 6 or 7, we do see some maturation but it will not become ingrained until early teens.

Should we use humour?
Humour, although a wonderful asset to any family, must be used appropriately, if at all. The child must learn that feelings are real and not be taken lightly in a tense situation. We should value others feelings. If a child is to learn how to deal with anger maturely, this would not really be the best way.

In summary:
Anger is natural & normal & children need a mature model to follow and learn from. By taking some simple steps and approaching the situation with love, not intolerance or anger, we can have a positive & long-lasting impact on how our children learn to handle their anger. Anything else, we risk raising a passive-aggressive child setting them up for a life of suppressed anger.

Of course, a course on Assertiveness wouldn’t go astray when the time is appropriate. (Yes, I already have mine stashed in the cupboard waiting for when my children are willing & able).


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