My 8-year-old son, Sean, let loose a burst of anger today. Some bit of strategy went wrong in his computer game, so he punched his tablet.
The screen broke.
This was not the first time he punched his device, nor was it the first time I talked to him about anger management. It was the first time his outbursts had such permanent repercussions, however.
I used Proverbs 14:29 to discuss the incident with Sean: “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”
Explaining it as simply as I could for a third grader, I told him understanding equals smart; folly equals stupid. So someone who is patient is smart and someone who gets angry easily is stupid.
Sean looked at his broken tablet screen and got the point.
I told him the secret was to not react in that moment of rage. It isn’t easy, but it is the answer.
It occurred to me that we adults sometimes do the same thing with our anger, although with words instead of fists. We lash out and say things we shouldn’t
We also cause things to break. Relationships, for instance.
The answer for us is the same as it is for Sean.
Proverbs 17:27-28 says: “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”
Restraint and silence are the answers.
But, restraint is seen as weakness and silence is a lost art in the age of Twitter and Facebook. The nature of social media encourages instantaneous reaction, but the Bible calls on us to be more measured in our responses.
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” – Proverbs 21:23.
Restraint and silence are good ways to guard both your mouth and your keyboard, keeping you out of trouble and your relationships intact.
It isn’t easy, but it is the answer.