James 1:19-20:  “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (NIV).

When you’re faced with disrespectful, disobedient or rebellious behavior, it is natural to get angry.  Unfortunately, the natural response is least likely to uncover the heart issues underneath the child’s bad behavior.  This is because the “anger of man” obscures righteousness.  The anger of man is self-centered, and is focused on the target of the bad behavior (the parent).  This verse tells us that a better response is to be quick to listen and slow to speak.  Listening carefully, speaking little and guiding your child on an exploration of the motives behind his behavior can lead to the sort of insight that points the child toward the righteousness of God.  Replace anger with empathy, and see what happens.

Responding to a disobedient child with empathy rather than anger is difficult, but the reward is great.