Growing up in a small town if you didn’t want to drink and party on the weekends at a friend’s house, you had to find something else stupid to do, so we ‘rolled houses’ (aka throwing toilet paper in trees) all the time. At some point it became so much fun to roll the ‘Roper girls’ house that my dad would sit and wait in his car (a very scary 1980 something red Nissan Sentra) laid back in his seat ready to scare some teenagers. It became quite comical and was really a ton of fun. Teens will be teens, right? I’m thankful that my parents let us have fun and didn’t make a big deal out of it as long as we cleaned it up…Parents often get very frustrated parenting teens and teens often get frustrated with parents. As kids, many will go through a phase of saying, “I hate you.” which can truly hurt a parent’s feelings. So how do we deal with angry kids? How do we deal with anger?
Truly, there is a fine line between love and hate. People get angry at the people they love and about the things they love. Anger in and of itself isn’t bad. God may allow anger in us to motivate us to correct evil such as child abuse or poverty or to help us set others things right. Hopefully as adults we’ve learned to manage our anger effectively, but let’s be honest, most of us are still learning in this area. At the same time, for those of us raising children, we need to help them learn how to manage their anger effectively also.
Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell in the book, “The Five Love Languages in Children” state, “The primary lifetime threat to your child is his or her anger.” It’s not pornography, sex trafficking, being kidnapped, drugs, etc. I tend to agree with their further statement, “The mishandling of anger is related to every present and future problem your child may have,–from poor grades to damaged relationships to possible suicide.” Teenagers are often the most difficult to deal with because parents often think, “We’ve tried everything and nothing works.” Teens are often being passive-aggressive, which is a subconscious determination to do the opposite of what the authority figure (parents in this case) wants. Sometimes, passive-aggressive behavior in teens can be drugs, violence, sexual activity resulting in disease or unplanned pregnancy, school failure or even suicide. The good news is we can learn to manage anger and teach others how to positive manage anger as well.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all anger is wrong and needs to be disciplined in children. Teach them how to manage it. Here are some tips:
-Give them choices. Ask them, “What is/was a better way of handling this situation?”
-Let small things go while parenting teens such as messy rooms or toilet-papering trees! Proverbs 19:11, Overlook offenses at times.
-Encourage physical activities such as mountain climbing, ropes courses, white-water rafting, sport, biking, etc that can help teens to satisfy their desire for excitement and danger.
-Model how to deal maturely with anger. Apologize to you kids when you haven’t done this so well.
-Allow them to tell you they are angry at you. When my kids starting saying, “I hate you or ____ person”. I encouraged them to say, “I had what you did or I hate what this person did” instead of “I hate you”. Let your kids verbally express anger, which can be better than behaviorally expressing it at times. Let them get verbal at home when you are there to help them so they hopefully won’t do it at school. Allowing this isn’t permissive parenting, it is an opportunity to teach them. Proverbs: 15:1 A gentle angers turns away wrath, but a harsh words stirs up anger. This take time and practice!
-Give behavioral alternatives such as a punching bag. My kids will go punch their pillows. Some kids will hit themselves and I tell them they don’t have the right to harm a body that belongs to God, but they can punch the stuffing out of their pillows!
-Take time to listen to your kids, love them unconditionally and spend quality time with them. Explain your reasoning behind decisions to your kids. Most angry adults felt unloved by their parents. It is a sad but often true reality.
-If you need help, contact a family counselor who can help. Never let pride stand in the way of seeking good counsel. Proverbs 12:15 Wise people realize they don’t know it all and seek wise counsel!
God Bless you all for reading and use anger for good!
p.s. A great toilet papering trick: My friend, Jill’s dad was one of the local assistant fire chiefs and he told us to light a match at the end of the toilet paper and it would burn right out of the tree without burning a tree! It worked for us! Just don’t try alone..lol