Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Heart of Anger (1)

The Heart of Anger; practical help for the prevention and cure of anger in children, by Lou Priolo promises to be a great read.

I've only read two chapters so far and they have, as we say in Bislama, "stikim hat blong mi finis" (pricked my conscience).

The first chapter first looks at the characteristics of an angry child (outbursts of anger, argumentation, disrespect, fighting, animosity, cruelty, strife, acts of vengence, malice, bitterness and discouragment) and then goes on to pin-point the most-usual cause (in his experience) of angry child; a child-centred home.

This chapter was somewhat encouraging for me for while I have had trouble with expressions of anger from one of my children, I can see now that she is not "an angry child";  her anger has not become so habitual that it characterises her.  We both have a way to go in dealing with this anger but this little distinction in my mind is enourmously helfpul.

The second chapter, not so encouraging but equally helpful, looked at "provocative parents".  He identifies 25 (yes, that many) ways that parents can provoke their children to anger.  Have a look...

  1. Lack of marital harmony
  2. Establishing and maintaining a child-centred home
  3. Modelling sinful anger
  4. Habitually disciplining while angry
  5. Scolding
  6. Being inconsistent with discipline
  7. Having double standards
  8. Being legalistic
  9. Not admitting your wrong and not asking 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. Practising favouritism
  25. Child training with wordly methodologies inconsistent with God’s word

There is some overlap here but I am definitely guilty as charged.

When I think about the particular instances when I have trouble with my child's anger it always involves (4) disciplinging while angry, (6) being inconsistent with discipline, (12) not listening to her side of the story and (23) unrealistic expectations.

So would you pray for me? Pray that I would finish this book and prayerfully consider all that he says, reflecting honestly on my on life and conduct.  Pray that I would repent of provoking my children to anger and learn better habits.


Cathy McKay said...

Hi Rachael,
Thankyou, this post is so timely for me. After having a few weeks of lots of generous people helping to care for our older two (while the youngest was born), I feel like I am totally lost in my parenting.

I can see a lot of what is going wrong, but finding it hard to be proactive in moving forward.

This looks like a book that will be useful to us.

I will make a point of praying for you and Glenn and the children as you keep growing in godliness together.

Mike said...

I've thought long about the disciplining-while-angry thing. I'm pleased he didn't suggest that in itself its wrong - the impression I got was only ever disciplining while angry. Because I used to think that being calm and rational and 'objective' was the only way to discipline (an extreme response to someone perhaps?). But I don't think God is like that, and that is personally involved, indignant and angry. So I think there has to be a personal element in discipline, and its good for (insert child's name) to see that I care about what they have done. I recognise that unlike God I can and do sin in my anger, but I don't think the response is to remove anger from discipline altogether. I speak as someone who doesn't have a problem with anger, if I did, then I might do that. But I too was encouraged from the list that Harry is not an angry child, even though he's been quite the terror over the last little while. I've found I need to teach him how to respond to things he doesnt' like, because I think he just didn't know what to do and so got angry and whacked me. Its been really good.

Ally said...

This sounds like an excellent read Rach.
Yeah, I reckon apologising to your kids when you have overstepped the mark is really important. It's humbling , but it means we all get to experience the benefits of being Christian :)

Ally <'v'>

Rachael said...

Hi Cathy... I find it's always difficult with your children when they've been looked after by other people for a while. It does take them a while to get back into the swing of things. And you've added a whole lot more into the mix with a third child. Thanks for your prayers!

Mike... what did you teach Harry to do when he was angry? Yours is a good point about wanting your children to know that you care about something. I have thought that, too. The trouble is getting out of control because of anger.

And thanks Ally. I've been doing lots of apologising recently!