I’ve been thinking about when Anger becomes Bitterness, and whether it’s useful to define it for a child.
Since I’ve been talking with my four year old about anger and not getting her way, I’ve been prompted to look a little more closely into God’s Words and Ways. This is a project for the next few weeks, I think.
Today I brought it up. What I told her was, “You can be sad about not getting to do what you wanted to do [wear a Sunday dress for play], but when you hold on to your anger it’s called bitterness. Bitter people are always miserable.”
How do you help a four year old let go of her anger? I dunno. Put off, renew, put on, perhaps. I told her she needed to say “Oh, well. I guess I’ll go look for something else to wear.” She dutifully repeated my words. She really does understand that she’s unhappy when she’s angry, and she really does want to figure out how to get rid of the anger. Then she dragged her feet upstairs. Changing one’s mind is hard. I know it doesn’t happen immediately when I have to do it.
When she was upstairs, I heard a little voice saying again “Oh well. I guess I’ll go look for something else to wear.” It warmed the cockles of my heart.
I like the way you defined the word for her. We have anger issues here and I have been reading a lot of verses on anger in Proverbs lately. I think God is prompting me to share them with my oldest at least, and to meditate on them myself. I am curious to watch the progression of your thoughts on this. I do think kids can be bitter, although the length of time they stay bitter does seem to be much shorter than adults. At least in my house, they seem to have about a 24 hour memory – although the oldest will sometimes still bring up wrongs the little one did a long time ago, and she seems upset, but she doesn’t seem to dwell on it. I’m not sure I would define that as bitterness.
I think you’re right about how a child’s bitterness often has a shorter lifespan. It looks different than adult bitterness but seems to have the same basic source and function. I’m still thinking about this. I’m not ready to write more yet.