Has one of your children ever said something like, “He made me mad!” We often ignore those types of statements in our attempts to get to an accurate description of the events that are causing our current parenting issue. In so doing though, we may be encouraging our kids to ignore the responsibility to manage their emotions.
Personal responsibility isn’t very popular in the secular world. Excuses, blame and other strategies are often used to allow people to escape responsibility for their actions. Christianity, on the other hand, is all about taking personal responsibility for your actions, attitudes and thoughts and repenting of them when they are ungodly or sinful.
Emotions, or at least the intensity and the resulting actions taken because of the emotion, can be controlled. Your kids choose to allow something to not only bother them, but make them angry or even enraged. That is a choice. They can just as easily decide to let the incident go with immediate forgiveness, which they have probably done under similar circumstances at other times.
As Christian parents, we need to constantly reinforce that while the initial emotional reaction may feel as if it cannot be controlled by us, the intensity and our reaction to those feelings absolutely can and must be controlled. Learning how to recognize and de-escalate a personal emotional state is an important part of self control. Taking responsibility for creating a more positive emotional reaction and/or forgiveness is a choice. Choosing positive, godly reactions to another’s words or behaviors that may have initially caused us to begin feeling a certain negative emotion is a choice that can be made.
It won’t be easy. You are probably still working on it in your own life. Acknowledge how difficult it can be, but also reinforce that because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t expect us to continue working on it. Share strategies that help you and encourage older kids to share strategies they find that help them (which may also help you). If you can get your kids to accept personal responsibility for their emotions, you will be helping them have greater self control and make better choices in negative emotional states. It’s definitely worth your time and effort.
Note: In some cases, children with certain special needs or mental health issues will need the additional help of a medical professional. This post is not intended to minimize those situations, but rather encourage parents to work with their children on managing their emotional states and actions within those states.