Handling Frustration, Anger and Arguments
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
This month’s Online Parenting Class is focused on handling frustration, anger, and arguments in the home. John 16:33 says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Tribulation is great trouble or suffering. Though you will have days as a parent when you will feel like indeed you are experiencing great trouble and suffering resulting from your child’s intense moods, Jesus said “take heart” for He has overcome the world. He has overcome the tension in your home! However, you may have to muddle through those difficult times as you raise your child hand in hand with God!
Frustration and anger are common emotions. Parents can help their child learn to manage feelings of frustration that bubble up into a burst of anger by trying to master a few tips themselves:
• Let your child know you are on his side. Stress that you love him no matter what. “I don’t love your behavior right now, but I love you.” • Give your child words to express their anger: “I know you are disappointed (or sad, or frustrated).” • Acknowledge challenges your child may be experiencing. • Redirect anger by offering other outlets to express it like jumping on a trampoline or painting. • Teach persistence. When your child is struggling with something, whether it’s homework, chores, or getting along with a sibling, help him develop strategies for success. • Nurture “cooling” buttons. Figure out what words or phrases “cool” your child’s frustration or anger, and revert to those first when things heat up rather than bursting out in an angry response yourself. If your child responds to compassion, “I understand how frustrating this is, Joe . . .” or humor, “Yes, this pile of toys looks like that mountain we hiked last week!” go there first.
Most importantly, listen, listen, listen. As parents, we tend to want to speak and fix, rather than hear what is going on in a child’s heart that is making them frustrated. Consider James’ words: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19). Consider memorizing this verse with your child—and having a conversation where both of you will commit to trying to be better listeners.
Help your child to connect this verse when things heat up. The best way to do this is by modeling it yourself. Listen intently, and respond with affirmation.
Dealing with frustration and arguments in the home is not easy, but there is hope!
The best thing a parent can do to help their child deal with frustration is assist them in storing up God’s Word in their hearts which will lead to heart change—and thus behavior change. But what do you do when your child is yelling, slamming doors, or having a complete temper tantrum? In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to know what to do. Simply reminding them of Scripture probably won’t work!
Children must find their own path for dealing with frustration, and as parents, it’s our critical responsibility to help them along the way. Bob Bowen, a national anger management trainer, says that how a parent responds to his child’s anger is how the parent teaches. “When a child sees a parent managing his own frustration and anger, he will learn by example,” Bowen said.
Parents, strive to handle your own emotions first. Your child is watching how you respond to his or her frustration and anger and will pick up cues. Ask God to fill you, the parent, with His love because 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “[Love] is not easily angered.” Love concentrates on the other person—in this case, the child. Though you may be frustrated yourself at the behavior, take a step back and choose to love your child enough to figure out what will help “cool them off” the best.
I am excited for what you have ahead with your child. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” God is walking with you, and will give you peace in the storms when your mind is fixed on Him.