Teaching Your Kids About Anger (Part 1)

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV

Did he just growl at me?
I was in the kitchen making dinner when my two year old came in and asked for a “nak, Mama, nak!” (snack).
“Mama’s making dinner, Bud. We will eat soon”, I assured him.
I turned around to see him standing behind me, tiny fists clenched, shoulders lifted, face scrunched up, glaring straight into my eyes. Yes, he had growled at me.
He was working very hard to tell me he felt angry because I said no to a snack. Only, he didn’t know how to say the word “angry”, and he also didn’t know that “angry” meant what he was feeling both in his emotions and his physical body.

You see, we aren’t born knowing about our emotions. What their names are, what their jobs are, and how to express them are all things we have to be taught. Many of us are “grown up” before we learn to put words to our emotions to express them without sin. Some of us never learn…
This was my opportunity to start teaching my son how to obey God according to Ephesians 4:26-27. Eventually I want him to be able to:
1. Recognize when he feels angry
2. Express his anger without sinning against God and others, and
3. Identify and take steps to resolve his anger through connecting to God and others

But the first step for him was to learn the word “angry”.

“You feel angry because I said no snack. When you are angry you can say, ‘I’m angry’. You may not growl”, I told him.
He relaxed his hands, stood up straight, and considered this information. Then he turned around and left.
For several weeks he growled when he was angry and I said the same thing, like a broken record, “When you are angry you can say, ‘I’m angry’ you may not growl.” My husband and older son joined me. Eventually, I said no to him and was met, not with a growl, but with a very strong, “AN-GEE, MOMMY!”
What in the world is he talking about? I thought.
Then the lightning bolt struck me and I realized what he had actually said! He had done it! Weeks of him growling and me wondering if this was actually going to work, and he had finally said it!
“Thank you for telling me that you feel angry because I said no! I feel happy when you use words to tell me how you feel”, I said while I smiled a huge smile at him.
He smiled back at me, “Tank u, Mama!”

This works for all ages including teens and adults.
But what are we supposed to do with our own anger? No body wants to be the angry mommy, but all of us have had moments of rage with our kiddos that we’d rather not confess to. Join me for part 2 where we will talk about how teaching our kids to handle their anger in a godly way can help us do the same!