Welcome dear friend!
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One of the most popular posts of all time on Women Abiding has been 5 Surprising Reasons Wives Lash Out At Their Husbands. I personally have been guilty of every one of the reasons mentioned, and by identifying the causes of my irritability, God has helped me tremendously to lessen the occasions of behaving in this way towards my beloved husband.
In place of lashing out, I have found that choosing to serve, love, be gracious and gentle with him has yielded far greater results, and an indescribably better atmosphere of peace and joy in our home.
I thought it may be helpful to delve into 5 Hidden Reasons Children Lash Out At Their Parents.
Now, I write this with a little fear of what you may think of me. Since I know full well that a family with two believing parents, and at least some believing children, are not supposed to have episodes where children lash out at their parents. To do so would be disrespectful, dishonouring, and at the end of the day unacceptable. However, having said that, our children are little sinners, saved or not, and until they learn how to handle certain situations, come under the control of the Holy Spirit, and choose holy in place of, well… horrible reactions, lashing out is what we may sometimes expect.
The thing is that just as it helps you as a wife to be able to identify the real reasons that trigger your own lashing out to your husband, and thereby either avoiding or working on those areas, it would likewise be an infinite help to be able to identify the causes for your children lashing out, too – for the sole purpose of helping to avoid the conditions that may lead them into unnecessary sin. Let’s face it, they have enough sin in their lives to deal with, and so why not come alongside and lessen some of those temptations for them.
1. You guessed it… Hunger
This is the most obvious reason. Our children can simply not go without food for as long as we can, and their capacity to be self-controlled under ‘starvation’ is pretty impossible. I have advised several young moms over the years who have asked me for advice on how to deal with their children’s tantrums to make sure that they never get to the point where they are super hungry! And it has helped. I am no genius for coming up with this epiphany, I assure you.
In an article titled, Can Low Blood Sugar Cause Bad Behaviour in Children on Livestrong.com, the writer explains:
As hypoglycemia develops and the brain is deprived of sufficient glucose, your child’s behavior may quickly deteriorate. She may become irritable, bad tempered, depressed, lose concentration, get suddenly sleepy or easily cry.
All that to say, I’m not making this stuff up ☺!
So, what can you do to avoid all this from happening? Easy – make sure that your children are stocked up at all times with something in their tummies. If you’re an hour out from your evening meal, don’t hesitate to give your child a little healthy snack; a fruit, a carrot, just something healthy to keep them going till mealtime.
2. Unconfessed Sin
Okay, so this one is probably not as relevant to your one year old as it is to your 11 year old, but read on if you only have a wee one, because the days are drawing nigh…
What I’ve noticed is that when my children are hiding something, whether it’s a sin that’s been committed behind my back, or even a personal sin that they feel guilty about, their remorse and shame over their sin can be expressed as anger and rudeness. Now, of course there’s no point in suspecting that your child is to blame for some heinous sin which will be exposed in due course. However, if there is no other explanation for your child’s misbehavior, it may be worth spending some one-on-one quality time with them to give them a chance to share what’s on their hearts. You may be surprised at the burdens that your child may be carrying, including sins that they have committed and feel ashamed of that are weighing on them.
Making yourself available for your children to unload the contents of their sweet hearts is a sacrifice that will pay off time and time again, and that will forge a precious relationship that will only grow and strengthen in the years to come.
As moms, you and I often try to delve deeply into the corners and crevices of our children’s hearts to mine out their motives. The issue is that God is the only One who can truly know where their behavior stems from. So, one of the many jobs that we have is to be detectives; to ask the questions that lead us to unveil the mysteries of our descendants’ ways.
You see, my friend, behavior such as expressing their anger or any other emotion, is actually a symptom, and as a good physician led by The Great Physician, we need to discover the cause of those symptoms. We need to place our imaginary stethoscope to their hearts and try to hear what they are actually saying.
One reason your child may be lashing out at you may be due to pride.
You see, your child may very sincerely believe that they know better than you in a certain situation or affair. They may see your judgement or decision as incorrect and unjust, based on their own assessment and understanding, and their way of thinking may be so superior and clear in their little minds, that whatever you are suggesting or implementing, in their eyes, is inferior to the point of disgrace. They know better. Or so they think. And in their mistaken thinking, their pride may come out as anger and even condescension.
Our precious, inexperienced children simply need to learn submission and humility. Okay, so it’s not so ‘simply’. You’re right. It takes about eighteen years give or take a couple to teach them this truth, but I encourage you, my sister, not to give up, and not to give in. One realization after the other in which they come to see that mom and dad were indeed right, is a step closer to their trusting you, their submitting to you, and their obeying you.
Learn to identify when your child is lashing out from a place of pride, and lovingly point it out. You may by all means bring up a previous incident in which you were in fact right when your daughter thought she was, in hopes that this will trigger her memory and infuse some humility into the scene.
But in any case, in a loving and kind way, your view as the wiser party is ultimately the one that needs to be heeded, if for no other reason than honouring and respecting you as your child’s God given authority.
4. Feeling Overwhelmed
One unexpected discovery I’ve made over the past few years with my children is realizing that they can become as overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated as adults can. Too much schoolwork, too high an expectation of chores to be done, and not enough to time to ‘do it all’ can cause even young ones to feel a burden that we often associate with adults carrying.
And you guessed it, while you as an adult who feels as though life is getting on top of you can deal with the piles on your to-do list by knuckling down and doing one thing after the other, by delegating tasks, or by prioritizing projects, children simply do not have the know-how, ability, or experience in doing the same. So they get frustrated. Which accumulates. Which leads to anger. And they vent. On you!
I have take two actions when I step back to assess the situation, and suspect that overwhelm is the cause for the outburst:
- I wait till peace and calm has returned, I take the child aside or out with me on an errand, and take some time to ask him questions like:
“How is your life going these days?”
“Is there anything that is bothering you?”
“Is there anything I can do to make your life easier?”
- Once I have drawn out of the child what is overwhelming him, I inform him of a change we will make.
For example, if he shares that he feels he has too much schoolwork and that he can’t finish it in time to play in the afternoon, I would say, “O.K., honey, how about if you did 3 pages a day in every subject instead of 4? Do you think that may help?”
Now I must point out that if I think that my son is suffering due to his own laziness and sin, I do not make changes to make things ‘easier’ for him. I would tackle his sin graciously head-on, talk with him about it, and pray with him that God would help him to turn away from it.
As a parent, one of the many reasons that you and I are have been placed in our children’s lives is to aid them in their struggles, frustrations, and hardships.
These do not warrant disrespectful behavior, but identifying that they are feeling the weight of life, whether it be a strained friendship or too many library books to get through, is helpful in dealing with the cause of their venting, and at times assisting them in lightening the load so that they can continue to enjoy being children for a little longer.
5. Laziness and Pleasure Seeking
As humans, smaller in size and shorter in years, your children are sinners. And at the heart of all sin is a dirty four letter word called ‘self.’ Tweet that
At their very core your children want to do whatever it is that they like to do.
If it were up to them, they would most likely sit all day in front of a screen, eating sugar in all of its vilest forms, going to bed later than imaginable, and spending their time with other little people probably around their own age 24/7.
As such, when you as a parent, invade their above mentioned desires with tasks that require them to think, work, and make any kind of effort, it will not, at times, be pleasantly received. Because they want to serve themselves!
I know this is a rather bleak view of these most beautiful treasures that God has given us on the earth, but if you believe in the Bible as God’s inspired Word, as I do, then Isaiah 53:6 is true of our littlies too, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Or how about the well known verse from Romans 3:23:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
If you’re still not convinced:
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3)
A meager outlook, would it have not been for God sending His Son to die so that men may be forgiven, changed, and saved for eternity.
When our children are asked to do something that opposes what their hearts desire to do, they can often lash out in disapproval. Whether they are trying to get you to retract your request or simply strongly express their disappointment that they won’t get to do what they want to do, they need to learn that that they have been born into the world to glorify God.
Serving others, laying down their own desires for the sake of others, and seeking to do the will of God above their own are lessons that I am sure you will agree, we as adults are even still in the process of grasping.
Once we have observed that the root of our children’s anger is laziness or seeking their own pleasure rather than obedience to the authority that God has lovingly placed in their lives, we can use it as a teachable moment to lead them once again to the Lord.
My friend, the bottom line is that children should not lash out at their parents. Anger in itself is not a sin. It is an acceptable and often understandable emotion. However, given the right training, channeling, and opportunity, children need to learn to use self-control and to share what they are going through, or at the very least to say, “I’m feeling so angry right now!” and proceeding to deal with their emotions while still respecting you as their parent.
I know it’s easier said than done, but if we look at the long term vision and aim to either anticipate what our children’s perspectives are, or what could be leading them to expressing anger, we could try to prevent it, help them manage it, and ideally take it to the Lord in prayer.
We’re all on this journey together, dear mama. My children are so far from perfect, you wouldn’t believe!
In many ways we are students of our children, and I still haven’t figured out when we graduate and what degree we achieve at the end of it all. Tweet
But as we lie in the trenches, faces muddied, clutching to our God for wisdom, strength, understanding, and grace, may our minds, eyes, hearts, and hope be ever on His goodness.
May His all-encompassing Word be your compass and steer you and your children to lives that are lived unto His glory alone!
I’m rooting for you!!!
How are you doing in the trenches, sister? What wisdom can you add to either insight on why your children lash out, or ways to deal with the situation when they do?