how children are provoked to anger, and what to do instead

Mark Altrogge at The Blazing Center had this insightful list of ways that children are provoked to anger. It was very helpful for me.

Here’s what he had to say about how children are provoked to anger:

“- By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them.  When they feel they can never please us enough.
– By having double standards – Do as I say, not as I do.  Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g. ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
– By anger and harshness
– By a lack of affection
– By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
– By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
– By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?)
– By hypocrisy – acting like a Christian at church but not at home
– By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
– By always lecturing them and never listening to them
– By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin
– By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them
– By pride – failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
– By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?)
– By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking?  Why in the world would you do that?)
– By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).

May God give us gracious, gentle, humble, affectionate hearts toward our children.”

Reading this makes me pray, pray and pray some more that Jesus would work in my kids’ lives despite their mom’s sins. I thought it would be helpful to turn this list into a positive “to do,” to go along with the “not-to-do.”  Sometimes I do better when I have a target to aim at, not only a boogey man to avoid. Both are good.

So, “Let us consider how to stir up one another (esp. our children) to love and good works.. encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24

Here’s the “how-to version” to stir up our children to love and good works:

– By encouraging them and letting them know how pleased and delighted we are with them. By pointing out the grace of God in their daily life.

– By setting an example in our daily walk with the Lord. Modeling humility. By expecting the same standard out of ourselves as we do out of our children.

– By being loving and brokenhearted when they sin. By sacrificing our own comfort and to-do list for the day to bring them back to fellowship with us and the family.

– By open and tender affection.

– By showing them examples from the Bible that they can understand and identify with to lead them towards the Lord.

– By being brokenhearted (not in a manipulative way) about their sin, because of its offense to God, yet being hopeful for their growth.

– By seeing them as uniquely formed and made by God for a purpose.

– By being consistent in our walk with God and our attitude toward them.

– By honoring them privately and, on occasion, publicly.

– By listening to their side and hearing the heart underneath.

– By bearing with their weaknesses and childishness. By being consistent in discipline for sin.

– By asking for forgiveness when we sin against them.

– By humbly receiving correction from our spouse or our children when we sin.

– By reacting to their sin with a concern for their soul.

– By graciously responding to their sin with firmness and lion-hearted love.

– By remembering who we were and who we are: fellow sinners with our children and (hopefully) co-heirs of Jesus with them as well.