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Lead By Example: Don't Poke the Lizard

A psychological and biblical approach to parenting


--Adam Maisen, LPC-S/TA

· Parenting

I am sure that we have all heard many viewpoints regarding parenting, and everyone seems to have an opinion. However, one thing rings true over and over again: angry parenting is ineffective parenting. I mean, think about it. If you are anything like me, you have yelled at your kids in anger at least once or 15 times, or 150 times. What I see in my moments of rage is either a blank stare or a very emotional and boisterous response. I am not specifically a faith-based therapist. However, I am a licensed professional counselor and a Christian. In this post, I want to share some science about the way the human brain works as well as some scriptures about parenting from a biblical worldview.


First off, I want to share a little bit about how God created the human brain in his infinite wisdom.


The Amygdala is near the center of our brains. It is super important for keeping us alive because it is responsible for our responses to and our memories of emotions. So, basically, when we feel threatened, our Amygdala fires, setting off a chain of events that cause us to respond in a way to keep us safe. You may think about these responses as fight, flight, freeze, or in some occasions, faint. The system that is triggered by the Amygdala is known as the limbic system. For years, psychologists have nerdily called the limbic system the “lizard brain.” “Why?” you may ask. Well, the limbic system is very primal and is about all that a lizard has in its head. There is no logical thought or processing that happens here. It is all about the immediate instinctive reaction to avoid danger.


The other part of the brain that we need to consider is the cortex. This is the top part of the brain that keeps the Amygdala in check. This part of the brain is where we find our ability to logically process information. The problem is that this part of the brain is not fully developed until about age 25.


So enough about the science-y stuff…


You may wonder, “What does this have to do with parenting from a biblical worldview?” I am so glad you asked. Remember that the primary responses to threats (yelling, screaming, physical strikes, explosions, etc.) are fight, flight, or freeze. Also, since the logical part of the brain is not fully online till age 25, kids don’t usually respond well to angry discipline.


Check out the following scriptures about parenting:


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

Colossians 3:21—Fathers do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Psalms 103:13—As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lords shows compassion to those who fear him.

Proverbs 14:17—A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.

Ecclesiastes 7:9—Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

Proverbs 14:29,33—Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. 33 Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding, but it makes itself known in the midst of fools.

James 1:19-20—Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Proverbs 15:1-2—A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

If you are dealing with anger in parenting, give me a call. I would love to team up with you to develop some practical approaches for bringing peace to your home through effective parenting. Give me a call for a 15 minute free consult. (870)293-2054. You can email me at .

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