Welcome 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:
- By a lack of marital harmony
- Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home
- Modeling sinful anger
- Habitually disciplining while angry
- Being inconsistent with discipline
- Having double standards
- Being legalistic
- Not admitting you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness
- Constantly finding fault
- Parents reversing God-given roles
- Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his or her “side of the story” seriously
- Comparing them to others
- Not making time just to talk
- Not praising or encouraging your child
- Failing to keep your promises
- Chastening in front of others
- Not allowing enough freedom
- Allowing too much freedom
- Mocking your child
- Abusing them physically
- Ridiculing or name calling
- Unrealistic expectations
- Practicing favoritism
- Child training with worldly methodologies inconsistent with God’s Word
Each one is expanded on and discussed biblically.
People 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.
Previously featured books:
Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. 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.
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