Do you let your anger explode or do you turn it inward?
I’ve learned that neither method is wise.
Let anger explode, and you wound others. Turn it inward, and you wound yourself.
As a mom, you play a powerful role in teaching your children how to handle their anger. Even if you didn’t learn it well growing up, you can learn how to handle anger with God’s help.
How to Handle Your Anger in 3 God-Pleasing Ways
My husband’s family was explosive—mine was more the simmering kind. When we were first married, we thought our own ways were right. He saw nothing wrong with yelling; I saw nothing wrong with stonewalling. Did we ever have lessons to learn, especially when our children were born!
As a young mom, I entered counseling for my past hurts. I started learning how turning my anger inward led to seasons of depression. I never learned how to safely and appropriately release my anger as a child, and neither had my husband. Due to our dysfunctional backgrounds, we weren’t set up to teach our children how to handle their anger.
I wanted our children to learn how to handle their anger in appropriate ways. So, I turned to the Bible and asked God to teach me about handling anger. These are the three key lessons I learned, which I started passing on to our children.
1. Anger is not a sin.
God gave us anger as a warning signal. Popular Christian radio host June Hunt says that there are four roots to anger: hurt, fear, frustration, and injustice. Anger is a signal to deal with those root problems. Ephesians 4:26 says “In your anger do not sin…”—note it doesn’t say “Don’t ever get angry.”
When Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple, Jesus displayed righteous anger over injustice. He wasn’t sinning because he was holy, so his anger was appropriate. There are times when our anger has a valid reason. It can motivate us to confront the negative source. We need to ask ourselves if our anger is righteous and we need to deal with the root issue right away without exploding or stuffing.
When my child yells, screams insults, stomps, or slams doors in anger, I confront. I say, “It’s OK to be angry, but it’s not OK to handle your anger like that. What’s the best way to handle your anger?” They have learned to say, “Talk it out.” As a family, we are learning to calmly and respectfully handle our anger and sort out when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.
2. God is slow to get angry.
Since I began reading my One Year Bible in 2003, I’ve read through the whole Bible many times. I am always surprised at how many times God’s people disobeyed him in the Old Testament, yet he waited a long, long time to get angry enough to punish them.
He let them test his patience many times when they wandered in the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land. He let king after king disobey him and lead people into idol worship before finally exiling the Israelites to Babylon.
If God, who is without sin, can wait so long to get angry with his own people, what right do I have to get angry at the smallest infraction? I no longer snap at my children for every little thing, because I want to be slow to anger like God is.
When my children are bickering, I constantly ask them, “Is this really worth getting upset about?” They are learning that very few infractions are worth their anger. They are gradually learning to overlook a myriad of wrongs (and so am I).
3. We can handle our anger with the power of the Holy Spirit.
God wants us to learn to control our anger. As the verse states, we must learn to restrain it. We can’t do this on our own, but the Holy Spirit will help us exercise the fruit of self-control when we are angry.
In our home, I’ve taught our children to take these steps when they feel angry:
- Take deep breaths to calm down.
- Literally “bite” your tongue by holding it gently between your teeth so you can’t speak.
- Count to ten before speaking.
- If you feel like you’re going to explode, leave the room.
- Take a walk to burn off negative energy.
- Say, “I’m at my limit.”
- Punch your pillow or scream into it. (My counselor recommended this one!)
- Don’t use “You are” statements when discussing your anger. State how you feel instead.
These are practical ways to gain control over anger. We can also ask daily that the Holy Spirit will help us practice self-control when angry and send up arrow prayers for help in heated moments.
I want to be a mom who earns esteem with God by appropriately handling my anger, and I’m sure you are too. Put these tips into play this week and watch how God helps you handle your anger in new ways. Teach them to your children to start a peace-filled revolution in the next generation.
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