Anger Management Strategies for Parents and Kids

Anger is an interesting emotion. God created us with the ability to get angry. The Bible tells us God himself gets angry. Jesus overturned the tables in the Temple because of righteous anger. On the other hand, the Bible also teaches us to not sin in our anger. As we learn from several stories in the Bible, anger can easily lead to violence, revenge, hatred, destruction and other sinful attitudes and actions.

The trick to avoiding sin while angry is to learn how to manage or control our anger. To turn furious into mildly annoyed. To calm ourselves to the point where we can think clearly. To uncover and deal with the root issue and not the surface problem. To put aside our anger at the disobedience of our children and give correction and consequences that are appropriate instead of abusing them in some way.

In today’s world, many adults need anger management as much as (or perhaps even more) than their children. Children aren’t born with anger management skills. They must learn and practice them. If they learn to manage their anger, they are also learning an import part of self control – impulse control.

There are lots of ways to calm yourself or to teach your children to use when they are angry. These are some of our favorites.

  • Take ten deep slow breaths before saying or doing anything.
  • Pray for God to help you have self control.
  • Count until you calm down. The angrier you are, the higher the number needs to be.
  • Give the level of your anger a ranking from one to five. Does what happen really justify the amount of anger you feel?
  • Identify your triggers and warning signs before your anger gets out of control and develop strategies to minimize your anger when triggered.
  • Make sure you are well rested, eat healthy foods at scheduled times and get plenty of exercise.
  • Notice what your body does as you begin to get angry (clinch jaw or fists, etc.). Use an anger management strategy as soon as you notice these signs (before you actually get really angry).
  • If you feel angry most of the time, exercise vigorously on a regular basis and seek professional help if needed.
  • Regularly do exercises that calm you like stretching.
  • Squeeze a stress ball.
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Read or watch something that makes you laugh.
  • Make something.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Talk to someone trusted about your feelings.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Journal about your feelings.
  • Learn to STOP before saying or doing anything. Stop. Think about what actually made you angry. List all of your options for responding. Pray to God to help you choose the appropriate option.

You and your children will benefit from learning how to manage your anger in godly ways. It will take time and energy, but it is worth it.

Are Your Kids a Burden or a Blessing?

The Bible makes it clear in John 16:21 and other passages like Psalm 127:3-5 that children are a blessing from God. Yet when your child has just vomited all over you or has disobeyed you for what seems like the 100th time in an hour, it doesn’t always feel like a blessing. In fact, many parents seem to want to spend as much time away from their children as possible.

Did you know a huge part of resilience is having a nurturing relationship with a parent? Do you also realize that being a faithful Christian requires a good deal of resilience? To your children, that nurturing relationship is only real if they feel loved and liked by you – and not in the almost academic way some people describe it – “I know my parents love me, even though they don’t know how to show it.” That may be a mature understanding of the situation, but it doesn’t feel like love to the child having to say it. And resilience depends on feeling loved and supported emotionally.

Sadly, it’s often the parents whose children fall into this unfortunate category who will deny or diminish the importance of making their children feel like they are a blessing to their parents. Hopefully all parents love their children, but if you are communicating you believe parenting them or they themselves are a burden, they don’t feel loved. And that’s a huge problem.

Are you communicating to your children that they are a blessing or a burden to you? Answer these questions and you will have a better idea.

  • Do you regularly complain about your children to others?
  • Do you describe your children in negative terms to them or others – using words like prickly, lazy, annoying, clingy, etc.?
  • Do you let out a sigh or roll your eyes when they ask for your attention?
  • Do you look at your phone or appear otherwise distracted when they are talking to you?
  • Do you regularly talk about needing a break from being with your kids/parenting?
  • Do you regularly work long hours or hang out with friends multiple times in a week to give yourself a break from parenting?
  • Do you regularly complain about how parenting is holding back your career?
  • Do you regularly tell your children to “get off” you or to “stop clinging” to you?
  • Do you sign your children up for activities and camps primarily to give yourself a break?
  • Do you regularly tell them you can’t wait until school starts or they move out of your house?
  • Do you rarely hug them or tell them you love them?
  • Do you avoid doing things like playing games with them or reading to them – especially if it is a favorite of theirs, but definitely not of yours?
  • When they disobey, do you make it personal by saying they are bad, stupid or using other negative terms, rather than focusing on the poor choice?
  • Do you ever say things in anger like “I wish you had never been born”?
  • Do you regularly complain about how much money you are having to spend on them (outside of the context of them asking for extravagant gifts or complaining about high prices in general not in connection with having or not having children)?
  • Do you complain or pout when you give up doing something you wanted to do to care for or support them in some way?

How many ”yes” answers did you have? Everybody slips up once in awhile, but the goal should be to say ”no” to all of the questions. What do you need to do to change those ”yes” answers to ”no”?

Children are smarter than most adults give them credit for. They can see whether or not your eyes light up when you see them and whether you think of them as a blessing or a burden. Give your children the gift of acknowledging and being grateful for the blessings they are. Don’t let them go through life believing they are a burden to the people who should love them more than anyone else in the world.

Overcoming the Fear of Tough Christian Parenting Conversations

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think there is a parent alive that gets excited about having a difficult conversation with their children. Whether you need to share disappointing news, correction or an explanation about God’s instructions on subjects like sex, effective Christian parenting means having lots of conversations that just aren’t fun. Often, the very idea of having one of those conversations leaves a knot in our stomachs and a feeling of panic setting in.

Fear encourages procrastination. Why not try to postpone something that might cause embarrassment, hurt feelings or conflict? Who knows? The conversation may be easier after a good night’s sleep, finals are over or everyone is in a better mood. The problem is that procrastination often delays these tough conversations indefinitely, if not permanently.

The problem is that your children desperately need you to have these conversations with them. They need you to teach them what God wants them to do, help them create plans for obeying Him and even help them practice using these important scriptures/skills. They need you to overcome your fear, because often they are even more afraid than you are. They know you have their best interests at heart and will give them godly advice. But let’s be honest. Asking your parents questions about topics like sex is not high on most young people’s list of fun things to do.

So what can you do to push past the fear and have the tough conversations you have been avoiding?

  • Pray. Not just while you are mustering your courage, but also right before you start speaking to your child and in the process of speaking to him or her. Don’t forget to pray afterwards that your child will seriously consider and heed any godly wisdom or advice you shared.
  • Read scripture. Not just any Bible verses, but seriously study everything you can find in the Bible about the topic of the conversation. At times, you may even need to re-read every parenting verse you can find as well. Don’t forget all of the verses that counsel how to have tough conversations with others.
  • Ask for help from strong Christians. You are probably not an expert on the topics you must cover, which is another reason for your fears. Ask your minister, elders or a Bible class teacher for guidance. It is likely they have had the same conversation you are dreading many times and can share what they have found makes the other person more receptive. Don’t forget parents who have raised children who are strong, productive Christians as adults. These parents have done a lot of things right. You may find they avoided the conversation themselves. Or they may have had it with their children and even variations of the conversation with their children’s friends, too. (Successful Christian parents often also mentor one or more of their children’s friends.)
  • For some topics, read ”polished” answers. These aren’t available for every tough conversation, but groups like Focus on the Family and strong books on Apologetics often provide well thought out answers to common questions children and teens have on specific topics. You don’t have to memorize it (and probably shouldn’t or it will sound like you are “fake”). Just either say the same thing in your own words or share the resource (when appropriate) with your child and then discuss it. (While reading something from a neutral third larty can help, your kids still need to discuss it with you.)
  • Practice. Ask your spouse or someone else who knows your child really well to practice with you. Have them play the part of your child and practice what you will say. Encourage them to react in more than one way so you can feel more comfortable regardless of the reaction you get from your child.

Difficult conversations will never be fun. Your children, however, need you to overcome your fears and have those tough conversations with them. It is a crucial aspect of Christian parenting.

Fun Family Devotional About Love

Valentine’s Day is an interesting holiday. It is supposed to be about “true” love, but often seems like it is more about buying flowers and candy at the last minute so someone won’t get angry. Often love is left entirely out of the equation.

Your children are going to see, hear and read a lot of confusing messages about love during their lifetimes. It is critical that they are able to filter all of those messages through God’s definition of love. You can start by having a fun family devotional about love.

Call your family together and start by asking them to name someone they love. Depending upon their ages, they may mention a family member, a friend or someone they like romantically. Then ask them to name someone who loves them. Ask them to explain the ways they know that the person loves them. After they have all shared, ask them to name other ways people can show they love someone.

Explain that in the primary language in which the New Testament was written, there are actually several words for love. One word represents brotherly love, like that they may have for a friend. Another word stands for romantic love. A third word, agape, is the Greek word used for the love God has for us and God wants us to have for Him and for other people.

Agape love is considered the highest form of love. It is a sacrificial love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstances. Some refer to it as unconditional love. It is like the love you have for them. You might not like some of the choices they make, but you will always love them and want what is best for them.

Love is an abstract topic that is hard for anyone to understand – especially children who are still concrete thinkers. Thankfully God has given us lots of scriptures to paint a clearer picture of agape love. Read 1 Corinthians 13 (preferably in an NIrV version to make it easier to understand). Ask your children to list some of the ways love is described in this chapter. Can they think of a real life example of someone doing that to show love for someone else? What about a time they have shown someone love by doing each of those things?

Now for the fun part. Ask your children to name someone who may not feel very loved at the moment. What are some things your family can do to make them feel loved? Your family may decide to put a lot of effort into making one person feel loved or do something smaller for several people.

You may even want to introduce your children to the five love languages – physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time and gifts. Ask them to name their two favorite languages. Which love languages would mean the most to the person or people you have decided to show your love? How can your family love them in those ways?

You can easily extend this devotional by periodically looking at other scriptures about love and seeing what additional information you can learn from them. Discuss various Bible stories and how the people in them did or did not show love for God and the other people in the story. It is easy to make love a part of any family devotional. Make sure that each time you discuss love, your family also does something active to show love to someone. Make love part of who your family is at its core.

Fun Family Devotional to Encourage Bible Study

One of the challenges in encouraging many children and teens to regularly read and study the Bible independently is motivation. Most young people are over scheduled and sleep deprived. The last thing they want is something else they consider work or a chore to add to their list.

There’s a fun family devotional you can do to help them see the wisdom and benefits of regular Bible study. Find a recipe that your kids will love, but have never made before. Make sure you either omit the majority of the instructions or find a recipe where it is crucial to read the entire recipe before starting or they will make a major mistake. For older children and teens, find a complex recipe with multiple steps and omit all but the first one or two. (Martha Stewart and Julia Child often have complex, multi-step recipes.)

Allow them to cook, while you observe. (Making sure all tasks are age appropriate and safe for them to perform.) When they reach the end of the instructions, but the recipe is obviously unfinished, look puzzled when they ask for the rest of the recipe (or realize they should have done a step much earlier). Explain that you are sure they can figure it out somehow (make sure their phones aren’t available!). After a few minutes (but before they get too frustrated or render the recipe inedible), give them the rest of the instructions.

While you eat their creation, read them the story of Josiah found in 2 Kings 22. Explain that scripture is like an instruction book God has written for us to make living life as close to God’s original plan as possible in our fallen world. Point out that because the Bible available at the time had been lost, Josiah and the people were not living the way God wanted them to live. They had sinned, because they had no idea what God did and did not want them to do. Josiah was heartbroken when he realized how far they had strayed from God’s plans for them and did everything he could to repent and make sure everyone knew the scriptures going forward.

Ask your children what percentage of the Bible they think they have read or studied so far. (You may have to help them figure it out.) Point out that the Bible tells us there were many more stories that could have been added to the Bible, but God left them out. One can probably assume, therefore, that the scriptures in the Bible are important ones God wanted us to read, study and use in our lives.

When we try to live life without knowing entire sections of the Bible, it is similar to trying to make the recipe without all of the instructions. We are likely to end up like Josiah, heartbroken that we did not know God’s Words as well as we should – sinning and creating negative consequences we might have avoided had we known everything God wanted us to know.

Help your kids develop a realistic plan for independent Bible study. You can search our blog for past posts on the topic to help. If you struggle with Bible study yourself, make it a family challenge. Find positive ways to encourage one another. Make sure your family doesn’t repeat the story of Josiah in your own lives.