One of my very favorite parenting books is Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
I loved it so much, I bought the paper copy even though I owned and read the electronic version. It’s that good!
The content is incredibly helpful, AND the appendix at the back is worth the cost of the book.
But today, I want to focus on how to address our kids’ anger through the lens of the GOSPEL.
Looking at our Kids’ Anger in light of the Gospel
Our first response as parents should always be to pray. We need to be praying for our kids in the quietness of our hearts and right over the tops of their heads.
Pray that through your parenting and guiding your kids, the Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of your kids, leading them to Jesus and freedom.
But our responsibility as parents also includes nurturing and training our kids, too. So how do we address anger we see in our kids?
In Give them Grace, the authors reminds us that “of the Lord” parenting includes five different responsibilities on our part: management, nurturing, training, correction, and promises.
When your child struggles with anger, use the examples below as a starting point for how to interact and talk with your kids about their anger in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A Gospel-Focused Approach to Addressing Anger in our Kids
*adapted from Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick
- With simple management, oversight, or direction, we give our kids basic instructions for daily living.
Example :: You need to stop fighting with your brother.
- In “Gospel Nurturing,” we feed the souls of our kids with grace and the gospel truth of how Jesus has cared for them.
Example :: I can see that you’re very angry with your brother right now. You are so angry that you’re hurting him. When you do that, you’re not loving your brother the way you have been loved. Jesus loves you so much, He fought to win you. Because of HIS love for you, you can love your brother, too.
- In “Gospel Training,” we teach our kids how the gospel applies to the circumstance they’re facing and what an appropriate response should be.
Example :: When Jesus was on the cross, he had people screaming at him and calling him names, and trying to fight with him. Do you know how he responded to them? He loved them. He didn’t yell back or roll his eyes or get down off the cross and fight with them. He stayed on the cross and showed how much he loved. He even saved the soul of the person being punished next to him.
- In “Gospel Correction,” we correct our kids in the context of what Jesus has already done for them and out of his great love for them.
Example :: When you fight with your friend, you are saying with your actions that whatever you’re fighting over is more important than God and his love. If you are fighting for someone to hear you or to tell you you’re right, or to get a toy, or being the best — whatever it is, it really is nothing compared to the happiness and satisfaction you can find in Jesus. You are forgetting the real prize in this life. The real prize is knowing that you are so loved by God.
- In “Rehearsing Gospel Promises,” we bring the truth of the gospel right into our present struggle and remind our kids of the promises God has made.
Example :: Do you already know that the biggest fight in all of history has already been won? It was the fight that Jesus fought for you. He fought the fight against Satan and won. Jesus completely defeated the devil, and He fought the fight to win your soul. We can praise Jesus for winning the fight to save your soul. He had to die to win that fight, and He did! The fight wasn’t just while he was dying on the cross; he fought his entire life. He fought against every temptation and every sin. Every time someone was mean to him, he fought to love. That is truly the hardest thing to fight to do, but you can fight to love others too; you can fight to love because God has loved you.
Knowing how to respond to our kids’ anger can feel overwhelming and scary, but with God’s help, we can help our kids overcome anger!