How To Provoke Your Children To Anger

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

I was thinking about this today as I prepared for a parenting class. Here are some ways that we parents can provoke our children to anger. I’ve done many of these, and for this reason I’m grateful for the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit to change.

We can provoke our children to anger:

– By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them. When they feel they can never please us enough.
– By having double standards – Do as I say, not as I do. Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g. ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
– By anger and harshness
– By a lack of affection
– By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
– By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
– By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?)
– By hypocrisy – acting like a Christian at church but not at home
– By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
– By always lecturing them and never listening to them
– By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin
– By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them
– By pride – failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
– By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?)
– By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking? Why in the world would you do that?)
– By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).

May God give us gracious, gentle, humble, affectionate hearts toward our children.

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Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.


  • Thanks for the practical post! As a parent of two young children, I’m thankful for markers to look out for. Could you recommend any resources to help with maintaining that graciousness with them in the younger years?

  • Lord, help me. Some of this is happening now. Feels like a replay of my childhood home.

  • Exactly where did you put the hidden cameras in our house?? Thanks for the conviction this morning… I needed it.

  • My son just turned four. I have been singing amazing Grace (all verses) to him since he was three weeks old. At two years he could sing Jesus loves me. and now at four can say approximately 90% of the Lords prayer, the other ten with a little help. Conducts himself like a little adult at Church and is very polite most of the time. I believe this will help a little boy grow to becoming a well groomed gentleman and man and one day Father.
    He tells me he loves me 15 to 20 times a day on his own and it is always reciprocated.
    When he does get angry, he asks me to hold him and sing the aforementioned.
    In short, start them as young as possible, but remember, it is never too late.
    God Bless all parents!!!! and good luck!!!

  • H.B. Charles Jr.
  • Well stated and so true for all adults not just dads. One of my favorite expressions from one of my grandsons is “wait I have an i” idea “and we stop and listened. Still had so say no and why but we listened! Still working on learning more from the mouths of babes.

  • I struggle with this so much! Would you consider posting a how to not do these things? I feel like I provoke my kids to anger by just breathing. Ok not really quite that bad BUT I do struggle with this area greatly. For example in we use to tell our kids our reason why we asked them to do things but they would just take that reason and attempt to argue their way around it. They can’t argue with because I said so. Or if they disobey an instruction (do your chores before I get home) which leads to punishment/consequences they are angry with me because it’s too hard. It’s maddening.

  • Yep. This has all happened to me. My parents, great as they were, were big on the “Children, obey your parents” part, but never this. Maddening. Thanks for posting!

  • I agree with this completely. However, I’m not very religious and its hard for me to conceptualize a couple things, like ‘offending god’ thats very subjective. Biblical reasons? How about just calling them morals..

  • Awesome read, thanks for sharing! We should definitely emphasize that sin (wrong doing of any sort) is an offense to God, and we should model that so our kids may follow our example.

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