“Angry Children & the Heart” + LINKUP


Angry Children & the HeartWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Chldren by Lou Priolo.


We’ve all seen them at school, in the grocery store, and dozens of other places. Maybe you have one in your own home. Angry children seem to be everywhere.

The world’s answers to the problem vary. They are labeled, medicated, coddled, and counseled endlessly. Too often angry children grow to be angry adults.

In biblical terms, anger is sin, not a syndrome or a disease. It’s a heart issue.

Chapter 1 of Lou’s book opens with Jim and Linda’s story of their struggles with an angry 10-year-old son. When they came to Lou for counseling, they had lost hope. Lou says:

They had lost sight of their parental responsibilities as a “joint effort” with God, who promises to provide the wisdom (Jam. 1: 5), instruction (2 Pet. 1: 3), ability (Phil. 2: 13), and desire (Phil. 2: 13) to be good parents. It is the responsibility of Joshua’s parents to love God and Joshua by obeying God’s Word in bringing Joshua up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6: 4). Perhaps you, like Jim and Linda, have forgotten that God will not ask you as a Christian to follow any biblical mandate without providing the grace and ability to carry it out. As you read this book, you will find hope in God’s provisions which will enable you to bring up your children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6: 4).

While children are responsible for their behavior, parents are commanded not to provoke their children to anger (Eph. 6.4). So before Jim and Linda or you and I can help our children, we need to see where we may have contributed to any problems.

Lou lists 25 ways parents provoke their children to anger:

  1. By a 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 or her “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

Each one is expanded on and discussed biblically.


Angry Children & the HeartPeople are often surprised by number 2, allowing the home to be child-centered rather than God-centered. At first glance it seems counter-intuitive, but when a child thinks the world revolves around him and something doesn’t go his way, he becomes frustrated and angry.

Lou lists a number of warning signs that a home may be child-centered:

A child-centered home is one in which children are allowed to commit the following indiscretions:

  • Interrupt adults when they are talking
  • Use manipulation and rebellion to get their way
  • Dictate family schedule (including meal times, bedtimes, etc.)
  • Take precedence over the needs of the spouse
  • Have an equal or overriding vote in all decision making matters
  • Demand excessive time and attention from parents to the detriment of the other biblical responsibilities of the parents
  • Escape the consequences of their sinful and irresponsible behavior
  • Speak to parents as though they were peers
  • Be the dominant influence in the home
  • Be entertained and coddled (rather than disciplined) out of a bad mood.

Lou goes on to contrast that description with one of a God-centered home.

The book is packed full of help for parents and children. Communication skills are discussed, as well as, learning how to ask forgiveness biblically. Lou explains the difference between “discipline” and “instruction” and why both are necessary in a balanced way. There are helpful tools like simple journals:

When used correctly and consistently, an Anger Journal will help children to accomplish the following:

1. Identify the events that trigger angry responses.
2. Analyze and evaluate inappropriate expressions of anger.
3. Design alternative biblical responses to the events that trigger anger.
4. Improve their communication and conflict resolution skills.
5. Learn how to express anger without sinning.

The principles discussed in the book will help children and their parents learn to deal with the inward manifestations of anger (angry thoughts), not just the outward ones – the only way real heart change can take place. And parents often tell me the book helps them, as well as, their children.

I have recommended Lou’s book dozens of times and frequently use it in counseling. If you have an angry child, are trying to help someone who has an angry child, or want to prevent that tendency, I know you’ll find it an invaluable resource, too.




Quotations taken from:
Priolo, Lou (1998-01-15). Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children. Calvary Press. Kindle Edition.

You can get a copy of The Heart of Anger or shop for Other Resources here.

Previously featured books:

Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. Read about it here.

Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries. Read about it here.

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. Read about it here.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. Read about it here.

When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald. Read about it here.

Pleasing People: How Not to be an Approval Junkie by Lou Priolo. Read about it here.

Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Read about it here.

Gift-Wrapped by God: Secret Answers to the Question “Why Wait?” by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus. Read about it here.



Christian bloggers linkup

Mondays @ Soul Survival is a place to share your insights about God and His Word, parenting, marriage, homemaking, organization and more. Feel free to link up multiple posts as long as they are family friendly. Remember this is a Christian site. I would love it if you link back in some way. I pin many of your posts on my “Mondays @ Soul Survival” Pinterest board.

Sign up for reminders of this LINKUP and Christian Living posts here.


22 thoughts on ““Angry Children & the Heart” + LINKUP

  1. Hey Donna,
    his looks like a great resource for parents, and I’m sure Jenny and I could both benefit from some of this parenting wisdom too. With four girls, keeping on top of our own parenting growth is a high priority. Thank you for this!

    • Yes, the sub-title is important: “for curing and PREVENTING anger.” Thanks for stopping by and linking up! Have a great week.

  2. This looks like a terrific book, Donna. There are so many angry children out there, and most of them are just craving love and wanting to know there is someone out there who cares about them. Thanks for sharing and for hosting! Hope you have a wonderful week 🙂

  3. I appreciate today’s focus on a God-centered home. In decades past, some parents have been too authoritarian, dominating with an iron fist. Today, some parents swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, toward child-centeredness and indulgence. Thank you for this admonition to be God-centered, and for outlining for us what that looks like.

    It’s a joy to join your linkup today! Thank you for hosting. 🙂

  4. At first, Donna, I thought that child-centered home list was what the book was advocating, and I thought, “Wait–something is seriously wrong here.” But it was only my lack of comprehension while I read! Sounds like a book I needed years ago. Thanks for hosting.

    • Didn’t we all! I apologize if I didn’t make that clear. Thanks for sticking with it. Have a blessed week!

  5. This sounds like another incredible book, Donna. I love how it listed out how we exasperate our children. I don’t think I’ve ever thought through the many ways we as parents might do that for our kids and we really need to see that in black and white to face those failures head on. Great post again, my friend! Thanks for the linkup as well.

  6. Wow! This post is packed with information! I definitely want to read this book, even though I don’t think either of my girls struggle too much what anger. There’s so much parental wisdom drawn from Biblical teaching, and that’s something the world needs more of. Thank you so much for sharing this today!!!
    Happy Tuesday!!

    • I’m glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Blessings!

  7. I have never heard of this book before. I think I need to buy it! I have one child that is always angry and I pray constantly for wisdom on how to deal with him. He definitely doesn’t like to be embarrassed in front of others so we are actively trying to find other ways to deal with him when others are around. This book just might be what I need to help me figure this one kid out!

    • I hope you find it as helpful as I believe it to be. The author is one of my favorites when it comes to good practical, biblical wisdom! Blessings!

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