Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

25 Ways to Provoke Our Children to Anger

As parents, fathers in particular, we need to heed God’s Word from Ephesians 6:4. Of course, this is not to say that all of our children’s anger is caused by us; each of our children is personally responsible for his or her own sin. However, this instruction from God is here for a reason. One of the ways our sinful flesh displays itself is by provoking others to anger. And the easiest place to do that is in our own home.

What are the most common ways we as fathers do this? Here’s a helpful list from Lou Priolo.

  1. Lack of marital harmony
  2. Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home
  3. Modeling sinful anger
  4. Habitually disciplining in anger
  5. Scolding
  6. Being inconsistent with discipline
  7. Having double standards
  8. Being legalistic
  9. Not admitting you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness
  10. Constantly finding fault
  11. Parents reversing God-given roles
  12. Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his or her ‘side of the story’ seriously
  13. Comparing them to others
  14. Not making time ‘just to talk’
  15. Not praising or encouraging your child
  16. Failing to keep your promises
  17. Chastening in front of others
  18. Not allowing enough freedom
  19. Allowing too much freedom
  20. Mocking your child
  21. Abusing them physically
  22. Ridiculing or name calling
  23. Unrealistic expectations
  24. Practicing favoritism
  25. Child training with worldly methodologies inconsistent with God’s Word
This list is from one of my Top 10 Recommended Counseling Resources and a great parenting book: The Heart of Anger by biblical counselor, Lou Priolo.
*Note Lou Priolo is an author, speaker, and biblical counselor at Eastwood Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, AL.  If you would like to read Lou’s writing, visit him at this link:

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  1. Used those 25 and Priolo’s book in the “Counseling Children” class I am currently teaching. Also used and credited your Dad posts in the class. Great stuff.

    Example of # 12 and #14. Tryiing to track down the source of this quotation. Heard on Christian radio yesterday while driving about a note from a young man who is running away: “Going to look for someone who will listen like they felt something.”

  2. Hi there,
    Interesting and insightful list. I wonder if you could expand on point 2: Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home?
    Many thanks,

    • I was curious about this one too. I always thought the child should be a compliment to the family, not the center of it.

      • I think that was the point – the child should NOT be the center of the home. Its a list of what not to do 🙂 And its on-target but so hard to get right day by day!

  3. The list is helpful in some ways. However, several if not many items are vague and hard to define (8, 18,19,23, for examples). Also, the Bible lists the requirement of not provoking your children to wrath, but does not give such a list. How do we justify this list, apart from qualifying statements in Scripture? (Many in the list can be, but not all). How do we get beyond lists of lists?

  4. This is just excellent. I stumbled upon your list while preparing a revision of Matthew Henry’s “A Church in the House” (which is excellent if you haven’t read it). Anyway, I am going to print this list out and put it into practice TODAY. We have been guilty of several of these things with our four children!


  5. After a challenging 6 weeks my husband accuses my daughter of things that she was not even involved with. When discussing this with my other children I find out that their view of their father is rather shallow “he’s not a good father like everyone at church thinks he is”. Wow what an eye opener of how our children perceive us.
    This books sounds like it might be for the angry child but I’m ordering it it in hope that as parents we can take the plank out of our eye before we want to see it on our children.