A few months ago my husband and I were so frustrated by our kids’ constant outbursts of anger that we were starting to lose it ourselves. It seemed like my kids couldn’t have a normal conversation without yelling, stomping their feet or blaming someone else. This had been going on for quite a while and we were at a loss for what to do. Whenever one of our kids had an outburst we would give out a punishment, but we weren’t seeing any improvement. It seemed like each outburst was contributing to the next, creating an avalanche that was causing more and more damage as it grew.
There were many days I lost it and had to apologize to my kids for my reaction. One day my son had been pushing the limit so much that my easy-going husband exploded. My son had never seen his father like that, and I’m not sure that I had ever seen my husband that mad either. After that incident my husband and I knew we had to find some answers.
The truth is, between parents, relatives and authority in my life, I’ve never seen anyone appropriately model self-control in this area. In fact, I’ve been around more people than I would like to admit that make me feel like I have to tip toe around them because I never know when they are going to have an outburst.
My first step in finding answers is always the Bible, so I quickly looked up a couple scriptures that mention anger. In my search I was reminded that the Bible clearly says to deal with our anger before the day is over and not to allow it to cause us to sin.
In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Psalm 4:4
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:26
One of the reasons so many of us struggle with anger is because we have been told that it’s wrong to be angry. When we were punishing our kids for getting angry, that is exactly what we were telling them. Many of us tell our kids at young ages to stop crying, which in turn tells them that it’s wrong to express emotions. Anger is an emotion that God gave us and we need to be able to express it, especially when it’s relating to things like injustice. The problem comes when our anger turns into wrath because we don’t know how to properly deal with it.
Now instead of punishing our kids we have created some steps to help learn how to process anger:
- Remove yourself from the situation – We go to our bedrooms.
- Do something to blow off steam – Something like exercising or yelling into a pillow that will release the surge of adrenaline that was created from the anger.
- Take time to think about what made you so angry.
- Find a way to put your feelings into words. If this is difficult to speak, writing in a journal can make it easier. (Click here for helpful feeling words.)
- Think about how you can deal with your anger better in the future.
- Listen to a worship song, ask the Lord for forgiveness and pray for victory in the future.
- Then when you’re ready, talk out your problem with the other person.
Just remember to allow yourself time to express your emotions, but don’t allow them to control your life.
It takes a lot of self-control to get anger under control and if you struggle in this area, you won’t change in one day. It’s a process of growing and stumbling along the way, but if you put in the effort and pray continually, you will make progress and eventually learn how to express your emotions in a healthy way.
I’m still learning.