Anger stinks. It is every bit as offensive as a poopy diaper. I find myself wrinkling my nose at both.
Children express their anger simply. They do it just like they digest food… it comes out the other end somewhat altered and hazardous. They explore it like they explore what it’s like to stick their finger up their nose or what it feels like to their tongue afterwards.
How do we train children to stop pitching a fit? We potty train the heart. We establish habitual cleanliness of the nose… uh…soul.
Let’s begin with two versions of the same verse. The strong’s definitions of three key words are bracketed.
The discretion [7922- wisdom, knowledge, understanding] of a man deferreth [748- to become long, lengthen, to have a long life] his anger [639- hot of nose]; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. Proverbs 19:11 KJV
11 Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense. Proverbs 19:11 (AMP)
This passage is so important. Wisdom and knowledge slows the heat. So what I get here is that processing the cause and processing the reaction are beneficial. Solomon agrees:
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger[3708-general uneasiness and anxiety, inwardly focused: anguish, grief; focused toward an object: anger, resentment] resteth in the bosom of fools [3684- foolish stupid, insolent]. Ecclesiastes 7:9 KJV
9 Do not be quick in spirit to be angry or vexed, for anger and vexation lodge in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9 (AMP)
But can we expect children to slow down and process angry emotions? Yes. They do this somewhat intuitively also like excreting waste or clearing mucus. Only with emotions, what comes out has first entered their brains because they see, hear and imitate it being done around them.
(Hey! Wait a minute! Didn’t God say something about seeing, hearing, understanding and turning being accomplished before he would heal his people?! Hmmmm)
OK , back to our noses.
The lengthening of one’s nose, the longer it takes to get red, the degree of calm with which we approach situations not to our liking… this sets adults apart from children.
Here’s one way adults should experience anger:
26 When angry[ 3710- to be angry , enraged, to feel and express strong displeasure and hostility/ range: petty human anger to righteous anger of God], do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Ephesians 4:26 (AMP)
Could it be that the ‘sin’ mentioned is the holding on to anger. There are many negative actions and thoughts that festering anger opens the door to, none of which strengthen our existence.
Got to get angry. Get angry. Then get un-angry. The more practice we get, the less time it takes to effectively deal with it.
If our nose is long, i.e. it takes a long time for us to get hot in the nostrils and once angered we allow ourselves to process anger’s heat, those malicious germs from toxic emotional snot become less of a problem.
It is this long-of-nose processing of hostility and vexation that we must model in front of our children when we are dealing with others. Anger happens. Make no mistake; children are watching every move. They are listening to each inflection and tone in our voices.
By modeling correct behaviors we teach our children, even from infancy, what to do with anger.
Later infancy months) (7-12)
During the last half of the first year, infants begin expressing fear, disgust, and anger because of the maturation of cognitive abilities. Anger, often expressed by crying, is a frequent emotion expressed by infants. As is the case with all emotional expressions, anger serves an adaptive function, signaling to caregivers of the infant’s discomfort or displeasure, letting them know that something needs to be changed or altered. Although some infants respond to distressing events with sadness, anger is more common.
… Many studies have been conducted to assess the type and quality of emotional communication between caregivers and infants. Parents are one of the primary sources that socialize children to communicate emotional experience in culturally specific ways. That is, through such processes as modeling, direct instruction, and imitation, parents teach their children which emotional expressions are appropriate to express within their specific sub-culture and the broader social context.
At least that’s what Janice Zeman says
What does God say?
Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (AMP)
I supposed, at first, that this meant as a mother, I had to figure out God’s purpose and the ways he’d gifted my children so that I wouldn’t screw them up.
Problematic. None of my four children chose the academic or skilled careers I’d expected or encouraged. Even so, I still believe paying attention to their interests is good advice.
Perhaps, though, if we see this passage as expecting parents to model “God’s way” so that from infancy ‘the way they should go’ is imprinted in our children so deeply it might well be said to be integrated into their DNA as emerging adults, we’d be closer to what the author was communicating.
We know from reading Deuteronomy, that God agrees with this approach to raising children.
What would happen to our parenting if we modeled God’s nose when anger flares up?
He is slow to get angry. He is specific about what gets him riled. He is quick to deal out appropriate consequences which are well thought out with the long term in view. When the punishment is over it’s over – period. Love is never taken away but the offense and its stench have been thoroughly removed. (The garbage bin outside is the only place for and poopy diapers and snot rags smeared with germ laden, slimy boogers…and health-risk emotional waste.)
His and everyone else’s nose is now free to enjoy breathing again.
When something gets you, the child’s primary caregiver, upset or angry or really ticked off, how do you respond? Better yet, how does your child understand you to respond?
The answer can be found in your child as you watch attentively to the patterns of behavior they engage when rage is in their nose. They will do as you do.
May your noses be long and your households blessed with emotional hygiene…in word and deed. Amen