3. Revenge-Seeking Behavior
Slide 3 of 4
Parents faced with revenge-seeking behaviors often feel hurt or threatened. Unlike, controlling children, these children do not want to dominate; they want to “get even.”
Examples of Revenge-Seeking Behavior
Children who seek revenge have a focus on things being fair and often try to level the playing field. For example, the day after your child was given a consequence, you may come home to find that your grandmother’s vase broken. The child may claim it was an accident, but in your heart, you know that is not the truth.
These children may be cruel to siblings and seek to retaliate for wrongs done to them, even if it was an accident. They may shout hurtful things such as “I hate you!” or “You don’t love me!”
Deeper Needs of Revenge-Seeking Behaviors and How to Address Them
These behaviors reveal two possible deeper needs: a need for safety or a need for a greater understanding of the grace of God.
Kids who seek revenge often feel vulnerable or at risk in some way. They tend to hurt others before they have a chance to be hurt. Affirming these children, even in the midst of misbehavior, can go a long way to help them feel safe and loved. You can say something like, “I don’t like that behavior, but I love you.” Children who have been victimized have a deep need to feel safe and loved. Regular reminders of how you keep them safe can help.
These children also need a greater understanding of and experience with biblical grace. God’s grace is a gift of unmerited favor upon His beloved children. We can’t earn it. We can’t barter for it. Helping these children to understand that they are loved with no strings attached can help repair the soil of their heart out of which revengeful behavior grows.
On occasion, you might say, “That behavior deserves a consequence, but to show you what grace is, I will give you a hug instead. You are loved no matter what.” Psalm 103:10-11 says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”
The Gospel is, at its core, a message of unfairness: we do not get what we deserve. Share the Good News regularly with these kids.
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