Learning to control anger is a crucial life lesson - one that we need to master and pass on to our children. Up until my young adult years, I had a huge temper. It took very little to make me furious. In moments of anger I would slam doors, hurl various objects across the room and yell a lot! I don't remember anyone telling me what to do with my anger - until I surrendered my heart to God. And believe me, He had plenty to say about it in His Word.
James 1:19-20: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (NIV)
As the years went by, I married and became the mother of two amazing children who inherited my huge temper. It was now my responsibility to train Jered and Danna in the ways of God, including controlling anger!
I prayed continually that God would not only give me practical ways to manage my own anger but that He would enable me to teach my children to control their anger as well. That is how the "mad board" was created.
When Jered was nine years old, we realized that he frequently struggled with his little sister, Danna. She had discovered each and every one of her brother's emotional buttons and delighted in pushing them. Jered's frustration grew until the day he retaliated.
My husband, Dan, and I came up with the "mad board." Dan cut a long piece of two-inch plywood and drove the bottom half of over 50 nails into it. He wrote Jered's Mad Board on the piece of wood and handed it to his curious son. Dan explained that anytime Jered became frustrated with his sister or felt angry inside, he should pick up a small hammer and drive nails into the board instead of exploding.
Over the next few months, we watched Jered drive a lot of nails into a lot of wood, learning that anger can be managed. Today, as a junior in college, Jered is an even-tempered young man who has found constructive ways to manage his anger. In fact, our whole family has learned some techniques you might find helpful:
• Pray for the person or circumstance that caused your anger.
• Exercise strenuously for 20 minutes.
• Play a solo game of basketball.
• Run an errand for the purpose of having a short silent retreat.
• Take a hot shower or bath.
• Breathe in to the count of nine. Hold your breath for a count of nine and exhale to the count of nine. Repeat three times.
• Memorize five Bible verses on anger and speak them out loud when angry.
• Journal your feelings. Even children can do this.
• Take a 15-minute walk.
• Buy a punching bag and use it to release destructive anger.
The people around us want to see what happens when life pushes our buttons and anger puts the squeeze on our emotions. While God created us with the emotions, it is our responsibility to control them instead of allowing them to control us. God's plan for anger management is a priceless gift that you can give your children.