10 Do’s and Don’ts When Your Child (Or Teen) Is Angry–Part 2

thumb_IMG_4772_1024One of the most critical tasks we have as parents is to teach our children to handle life’s wounds and injustices (real or perceived) in healthy ways rather than with reactive emotions. By teaching this vital skill, we help ensure healthier relationships as they become better equipped to handle conflict constructively.

Unfortunately, it is far too easy to allow our children’s emotional eruptions to push our buttons, causing us to meet their anger with our own rather than with compassion and love.

In part 1, we talked about 5 things not to do when your child is angry (Click to read part 1). This time let’s look at 5 things we can do that will help our children and us get through a meltdown a little more effectively:

1—Do acknowledge your child’s feelings and be empathetic. Validating your child’s feelings doesn’t mean you are saying he is right. It is simply letting him know you understand and care. It just as easy to say, “I understand how hurt you are and I’m sorry, ” as it is to say, “What’s your problem? You’re making a big deal out of nothing.” The first builds trust while the latter builds defenses.

2—Do establish boundaries for behavior and consequences for ignoring them. Being upset can not be used as an excuse for poor behavior. While we have to set the example of grace and compassion when tensions run high, we cannot allow our children be abusive to things or people. In our family, it is not okay to call names, hit anyone or anything, or break things. Respect for people and property is still a must and ignoring that comes at a cost. Better to learn that in the safe environment of home than the larger context outside of it.

3—Do talk with your child when things have settled and apologize if you mishandled the situation. Take the opportunity to teach that emotions are important and that even as adults we have to work at sharing them in healthy ways. We want to avoid the extremes of either burying them or puking them all over people. The first destroys you, while the latter destroys others.

4—Do spend lots of time enjoying your child. A filled up emotional tank goes a long way toward preventing and diffusing over-the-top emotions. I find that when I’m the busiest and need the most cooperation is when things are most apt to go haywire. That’s because children just need us. Give them plenty of what they need and they will more likely do the same.

5—Do keep the goal in sight and pray for the road to be smooth. Remember that our goal is not to have perfectly behaved children who make us feel like, and look like, good parents. Our goal is to train up healthy, well-adjusted adults who love and serve others. That doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey, but one that lots of love and a good measure of consistency makes considerably more enjoyable.

Mamas, we’re not perfect and we won’t get it right every time, but with a little intentionality and a lot of prayer, we can enjoy the fruits of watching our children manage their emotions in ways that deepen, not destroy, relationships.

You are not alone! I am praying for you, and if you let me know specific needs I will lift each of them personally. Hugs Mamas. You are doing a tough job and it is all worth it!

For Deeper Reflection:

As I said, this was an area of struggle for me. It wasn’t until I began to sow the word of God in my heart that true transformation took place. I hope you don’t mind if I share some of them with you here. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you.

Ephesians 4:26 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Proverbs 14:29 (NLT) People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.







10 Do’s and Don’ts When Your Child (Or Teen) Is Angry–Part 1

thumb_IMG_4772_1024Let’s face it—to parent is to sacrifice. It starts from the beginning. We mamas go through backaches, weight gain, sleepless nights, and intense pain just to bring our children into the world. We pass on job opportunities, social engagements and even hot meals in order to nurture them. And then one day, they have the nerve to yell at us and say we don’t understand, or we don’t care, or that they don’t like us? Really?

There are few things as painful to a parent as hurtful words from our children and it is easy to take them personally and launch an attack of our own.

Let me say publicly that I failed often in this area with my oldest children as I allowed their emotions to pull me into battle. I’m grateful for the growing understanding that God created us as emotional beings and, in and of themselves, emotions are not wrong. However, our emotions are also subject to our fallen nature and therefore can get out of control.

Our job then, as parents, is to help our children be good stewards of their emotions in order to produce God-honoring results. So how do we do that?

First, here are some “Don’ts” I’ve learned along the way:

1—Don’t take it personally. Having your own meltdown will only make you stoop to your child’s level and say hurtful things as well.

Our children, and even teens, need to know that they can count on us to be the calm in the midst of their chaos. They need the security of knowing they can trust us with their emotions without fear of our own.

2—Don’t get in your child’s face. I’m sure you know what I mean. Somehow we think that if we get close enough, point our finger the right way, or put our hands on our hips and speak in that ever-so-stern manner then surely they will get it together. Can we just admit that’s dumb? When someone is headed off the emotional cliff, it’s best to back up and back off, seeking to gain understanding rather than control.

3—Don’t try to reason with your child in the heat of a meltdown. Trying to make an upset child think rationally won’t work and will just frustrate both of you. Decide to just take a break to cool off and revisit the subject later.

4—Don’t send them to their room to cool off. I know this seems like a great tool because it can diffuse the immediate situation, but if used often, it can encourage misguided thoughts and can produce poor problem-solving skills.

Isolation allows children to dwell on their feelings and reach wrong conclusions rather than solutions. Our job is to teach them to stay connected and work on relationships despite painful emotions. We don’t want our children to form the habit of avoiding or disconnecting from difficult situations, but rather staying engaged toward resolution.

5—Don’t give consequences in the middle of a meltdown. Chances are, the consequence is likely not going to match the offense and your child will become more frustrated. When you and your child are calm, consider appropriate consequences. A simple “I’m sorry you were so angry, but I can’t let you get away with screaming and slamming doors, ” is a great way to convey the importance of not allowing our emotions to govern our behavior.

Remember, Mama, you make a difference. What you don’t do is just as powerful as what you do. I hope you’ll come back next week for Part 2 as we continue the conversation with the 5 things To Do when your child is angry.

Do you struggle with how to handle your child’s meltdowns and subsequent hurtful words or behavior? I’d love to hear about what works for you.