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Five Steps to Cooling Your Anger With Your Kids

New Life Ministries It is normal to become angry from time to time, but the way you handle your anger with your children is important. Here are some suggestions.

Step 1: Realize you’re feeling angry. Recognizing early warning signs of anger gives you time to deal with your feelings before they become destructive. These red-flag warnings include feeling hot, cold, paralyzed, tightened muscles, churning stomachs, or a desire to cry. When you pay attention to your unique red-flag warnings, you can realize that your anger countdown has started.

Step 2: Distract yourself from your anger. Anger always brings about physical energy. A distraction helps to relieve tension. A few distractions might include the following: taking a walk, running, hitting a pillow, taking a shower, singing, taking ten deep breaths, counting out loud, playing a musical instrument, reciting a bible verse, telephoning someone, watching a funny TV show.

Step 3: Recognize the underlying cause of the anger. Ask yourself questions about your physical condition first: Am I tired? Do I need exercise? Have I been eating too much or the wrong kinds of food?

Then ask questions about your psychological state: Am I thinking negatively about something? Am I worried? Has my child mirrored a bad habit of mine?

Finally, look at your spiritual status: Am I not trusting God? Do I have unconfessed sin? Do I need to forgive someone?

Step 4: Analyze your thinking for incorrect assumptions. Many times we become angry because we assume an idea is true when it is not. These underlying assumptions warp our thinking, yet we believe we’re basing our attitudes and actions on truth. Stopping to evaluate our thinking by examining Scripture and by sharing our ideas with others will help us identify wrong ideas. Once we do, anger will not have as much fuel to feed it. Here are a few wrong assumptions:

- “Being financially secure will take away my problems.”

- “If my husband would cooperate with me, I could be happy and content.”

- “Since I’ve made so many mistakes, my children can’t grow up to be emotionally healthy adults.”

- “If I hadn’t had children, I would be happy and have fewer problems.”

Step 5: Verbalize anger appropriately. This means using I messages instead of you messages. You messages express blame, as in, “You make me angry.” As a result of you messages, the other person usually responds defensively and is not open to hearing our feelings or ideas for solutions to the problem.

On the other hand, I messages express how we feel without telling the other person what to do about it (unless he or she asks). I messages express our needs and may be more conducive to someone really listening. An example would be “I feel angry when my needs are ignored.”

Besides watching the wording, we need to monitor our motives. We should not use I messages to try to subtly change the other person. Instead, we should honestly share our feelings while trusting God to control people and circumstances. I messages are most often effectively used with another adult, not a child. This will help us to avoid displacing our anger from an adult to a child. With children we need to use “consequences for their disobedience” in order to train them.

We can also verbalize our anger by calling a friend, professional counselor, or pastor. We could share our feelings within the safety of a support group or by writing them in a journal.

Excerpted from the book The Christian Mom’s Answer Book compiled and edited by Mike Yorkey and Sandra P. Aldrich. Used by permission of New Life Ministries. Help is available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have resource materials about anger and we have caring Christian professionals available to speak with you. You can contact us at 1-800-NEW-LIFE. or visit our Web site at


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