“Could You Be Provoking Your Children to Anger?” + LINKUP


Could You Be Provoking Your Children to Anger? - One of the most concise instructions for parents appears in the book of Ephesians. It says, “… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Some of the ways we provoke our children to anger seem obvious, but others may be less so. Could you be provoking your children to anger in ways you haven’t realized?


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Could You Be Provoking Your Children to Anger?


Parenting … it’s both one of the greatest privileges and one of the greatest responsibilities we have. And our example is a hard one to live up to … it’s God Himself, the One Perfect Parent.

Thankfully, God knows we won’t do this perfectly and He gives us His grace everyday. All the wisdom and help we need is available to us for the asking (Heb. 4.15-16; Jas. 1.2-5), as is His forgiveness when we fail (1 Jn. 1.9).

Often that grace is extended to us through the very children against whom we occasionally sin. When we humbly go to them and seek their forgiveness, they usually extend it readily and quickly.

But God does expect us to be faithful to study His Word, to pray for ourselves and our children, to be humble when we fail, and to grow in any area where we may lack understanding (2 Tim. 2.15, 3.16-17).

The book of Proverbs is jam-packed with principles for parenting and all the biblical principles for other relationships apply to the parent-child relationship, as well. But, one of the most concise instructions for parents appears in Ephesians 6.4:

… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

We’ll talk more about training and admonition in a future post. But let me just say that fathers and mothers are responsible to educate their children morally, spiritually, socially and in every way. It’s not the church or the school that is primarily responsible, it’s us, as parents.

We’re to help our children understand that we are not the ultimate authority. We are under God’s authority and, as His agents, are responsible to raise them in ways that are pleasing to Him.

Training and admonition include both reproof and encouragement. Our goal, as parents, should be to raise children who have a reverence for God, a love for His Word, respect for parents and others in authority, an understanding of Christian principles, the ability to exercise self-control, and a desire to please God.

But in today’s post I want to focus on the first part of this verse, “do not provoke your children to wrath.” The NIV says, “do not exasperate your children.”

We must be careful not to provoke or exasperate our children by being harsh, unreasonable, unfair, angry, cruel, selfish, or by showing partiality. Even godly discipline and instruction should be gentle, fair, and done in love.

Lou Priolo in his book The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children gives us one of the most thorough lists of ways parents provoke their children to anger. I’ve shared them before, but they are worth reviewing.

Lou’s book is one of my favorite parenting resources. He’s been a biblical counselor for over 30 years. He’s a Fellow with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and an instructor with the Birmingham Theological Seminary. But more important, he’s a parent and his books are practical, readable, and applicable to the daily realities of parenting. 

I often recommend it in counseling as a tool to help parents take the principles home and work with their own children. But it’s easily usable by any parent who wants to help prevent or deal with anger in their own children. It will not only help you get to the heart issues your children may face, but will deal with your own heart, as well. 


25 Ways That Parents Provoke Their Children to Anger:

  1. Lack of Marital Harmony
  2. Establishing and Maintaining a Child-Centered Home
  3. Modeling Sinful Anger
  4. Habitually Disciplining While Angry
  5. Scolding
  6. Being Inconsistent with Discipline
  7. Having Double Standards
  8. Being Legalistic
  9. Not Admitting You’re Wrong and Not Asking for Forgiveness
  10. Constantly Finding Fault
  11. Parents Reversing God-Given Roles
  12. Not Listening to Your Child’s Opinion or Taking His “Side of the Story” Seriously
  13. Comparing Them to Others
  14. Not Making Time Just to Talk
  15. Not Praising or Encouraging Your Child
  16. Failing to Keep Your Promises
  17. Chastening in Front of Others
  18. Not Allowing Enough Freedom
  19. Allowing Too Much Freedom
  20. Mocking Your Child
  21. Abusing Them Physically
  22. Ridiculing or Name Calling
  23. Unrealistic Expectations
  24. Practicing Favoritism
  25. Child Training with Worldly Methodologies Inconsistent with God’s Word

Lou devotes a whole chapter in his book to the items on this list, adding plenty of explanations and Scriptural backing. I hope you find his list helpful.

Coming Up:

In the next few days in the daily posts we’ll talk about what a mature Christian looks like, what’s going on when we think we can sin now and ask forgiveness later, angry children, hypocrisy, the armor of God and more.

Be sure to sign up so you won’t miss any of these upcoming posts.

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Today’s Featured Resource:

The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children



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16 thoughts on ““Could You Be Provoking Your Children to Anger?” + LINKUP

  1. Donna,
    I’m so glad to read this post. As parents we need to be responsible for our actions. We need to check ourselves to make sure we aren’t the cause of our children’s anger or bad behaviour. God’s Word truly does have the best parenting advice!
    ~Sherry Stahl

    • Yes, while our children are responsible for their actions, we can be a huge stumbling block to them when we parent harshly and selfishly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sherry.

  2. What a good, thorough, and thought-provoking list. May God give us grace! I think I prayed for wisdom in regard to parenting my children more than almost anything else in life.

    • Yes, Barbara, Lou’s list is thorough and eye-opening for many. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  3. What a comprehensive list of ways that parents provoke their children to anger, Donna. I’ve heard you talk about this book before and it sounds like an incredible resource. Thanks for always giving us the best biblical resources on important topics like this. And thanks for the linkup too, my friend!

  4. This issue is one every parent should pray over and guard against. I know I need to take my time to look at my actions to ensure I am not provoking my child. I need to encourage her to not sin in anger by being a good role model. Thanks for covering important topics for personal growth each week and for faithfully linking up with us on the #LMMLinkup.

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