DISCIPLINE: Use anger early in small doses. (#7 out of 8 great tips)

We all saw it coming. Patricia and I were visiting with a friend, calmly chatting at the kitchen table, sipping iced tea. The resident four-year-old came in, opened the fridge, and with one hand began to remove a full gallon pitcher of freshly made orange juice. You see it coming, too. Disaster in the making. As the pitcher came off the shelf, it tilted, dropped, and splattered orange juice all over the floor and nearby cabinets.

Our friend lost it. She was on her feet, screaming, belittling, name-calling. Her anger was too much and too late, doing more damage than good. Harmful and sinful, we’ve all done it.

She became angry too late.

Let me explain. Too often, we hold back our anger because we want to be sweet and kind. But inside we are building up pressure. Too much pressure and the top blows off.

Measured anger, released in a timely way, serves as a preventive action. It stops the child from a serious mistake and it maintains dignity for us and them.

A sharp word spoken at the right moment could have avoided the disaster of our uncontrolled temper. “How good is a timely word!” (Prov. 15:23) The teaching in the scripture acknowledges that anger has a time and purpose; it just needs control. “Be angry and sin not.” (Eph. 4:26) Apparently, God thinks it is possible to be angry without sinning. Let’s look at some ways.

Here are some ways for using instead of losing your temper:

— Develop the ‘look’. Look angry. Grit your teeth, compress your lips, knit your eyebrows, focus your eyes on his eyes and lock. Review tip #1 “The Stern Look.” Of course, they have to look at you for this to work.

— Develop degrees of angry tone in your voice. Instead of going from 0-60 in two seconds, go from 0-10. Raise your voice slightly and use one or two words. When they look at you, give them the look. A clear, sharp, controlled “NO” or “STOP” will often solve a problem before it happens. Raise your voice one notch; that’s all. But raise it enough to get their attention. God gave you degrees of volume. That’s where Sony got the idea.

— Use the full name. This is a gentle but firm warning. Don’t use the little pet names like “baby” or “honey” but use the full name: “Keith Waldon Currie, you had better stop and think about what you are doing!”

Early preventive action will help you avoid ultimatums like, “You will never eat again for the rest of your life.” That’s the purpose of our list of tips; fill up your discipline toolbox and then use the right tool at the right time. It takes practice, but it is worth it.

Manage yourself, manage your kids. They go together.

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