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Five-bell alarm

Five-bell alarm

Make your own “anger alarm” (resembling a fire alarm) to help kids determine whether their anger is righteous or unrighteous.

Discussion point: Introduce skills to help kids manage their anger.

This is a longer activity that can be completed over several days. The goal is to teach your children to manage their anger appropriately through prayer and by asking God to help them decide if their anger is “righteous” or “unrighteous.” You will work with your kids to make an “anger alarm” that is similar to a fire alarm that can be pulled in case of fire. Begin by using the discussion questions to introduce the idea that anger can be similar to a fire. If you have the opportunity, show your children a fire alarm in a public building.

Questions for discussion
  • Do you know what a fire alarm looks like?
  • Have you ever heard a fire alarm? If so, what does it sound like?
  • Why would someone pull a fire alarm?
  • Are all fires bad?
  • What kind of fire is a good fire? And a bad fire?
  • How is anger like a fire?
  •  What is the best thing to do if you are angry?
Key concepts

A fire alarm is designed to alert people to the danger of a fire in a building and to get help from the fire department. Some fires, like campfires, are safe and helpful fires, whereas wildfires are harmful and dangerous. Anger is like a fire because it can be helpful, letting us know that something is wrong. Even Jesus experienced anger (see the story below). Anger in itself is not wrong; it’s what we choose to do with our anger that makes it right or wrong. Anger, just like a fire, can cause great damage and harm if it is not kept under control. The Bible says, “In your anger do not sin,” (Ephesians 4:26a). The Bible also tells us that anger does not bring about the righteous life God wants us to live (James 1:20).

Making an anger alarm

Plan to make an “anger alarm” to serve as a tool to help your children manage their anger and solicit God’s help. The idea is to provide your kids with a systematic and spiritual strategy to deal with their anger. Follow these instructions to make your “anger alarm.”

  • Take a thick piece of cardboard measuring 15 cm x 20 cm (6" x 8") and cut a door in it measuring 5 cm x 10 cm (2" x 4"). Cut three sides only and leave one side attached as a hinge. You may wish to add hook and loop tape as a fastener to keep the door closed.
  • Paint or colour the cardboard red and write on the door “Pull in case of anger.”
  • Inside your anger alarm, write these questions: “Would this make God mad too?” and “Do I have a righteous reason to be angry?” When a child pulls the alarm door open, read the questions aloud and use the definitions provided on the chart below to help your child determine if their anger is righteous anger or unrighteous anger. You may wish hang a copy of the chart beside your anger alarm. These two short stories help explain the difference between righteous anger and unrighteous anger:
    • Jonah 4:1-11 | Jonah is mad because God showed compassion on the city of Nineveh
    • Matthew 21:12-13 | Jesus was angry to find the money lenders’ tables in the temple. Today, this would be a bit like regularly using your church sanctuary for a farmer’s market or a garage sale. (If your child asks why Jesus was allowed to turn over tables when He was mad and they cannot, explain that Jesus was God and dealing with sin is His job, not ours.)
  • Explain that even when we experience righteous anger, we need to leave our anger with God and ask Him to take care of the problem. Reiterate that it is God’s job to decide if a person has sinned and how to discipline those who have sinned. Tell your children that unrighteous anger also needs to be left with God in the form of confession. Once you have helped a child determine if their anger is righteous or unrighteous, you can help them take the problem to God in prayer. Sample prayers are provided at the bottom of the following chart.
Five-bell alarm chart

Righteous anger is being angry about the things God detests (Proverbs 6:16-20)

Unrighteous anger is based on sinful attitudes (James 3:14-18, James 1:19-20)

Pride or haughty eyes: When someone is not humble before God or refuses to admit sinfulness

Self-pity: Feeling angry because I am feeling sorry for myself

Injustice: When people are mistreated or treated unfairly

Jealousy: Feeling angry because someone has something I want

Idolatry: When people honour things in a way that only God deserves to be honoured

Self-centredness: Feeling angry because I don’t get my own way

Greed: When people do not follow God’s directions from the Bible and choose to do wrong instead

Impatience: Feeling angry because I don’t want to wait for something

Dishonesty or a lying tongue: When people don’t tell the truth or deceive others

Laziness: Feeling angry because I have to do something when I’d rather just relax

A heart that plans wicked schemes: When people plan to do wrong

Selfishness: Feeling angry because I don’t want to share

Feet that are quick to rush into evil: When people are quick to choose to do wrong

Over-sensitivity: Being angered by small or insignificant things

Stirring up conflict: When people do things to cause others to fight

Pride: Anger due to an unwillingness to admit that I am wrong or at fault

Sample prayer when anger is righteous:
“Dear God, Please help me to trust You with this problem instead of trying to take care of it myself. Please help me not to hold any bitterness or anger in my heart. I leave this problem with You, because I know it’s Your job to judge and not mine. Amen.”

Sample prayer when anger is unrighteous:
“Dear God, I am angry because ________. This is wrong and I confess my unrighteous anger to You. Please forgive me and take the angry attitude out of my heart. I leave this problem with You, because I know it’s Your job to judge and not mine. Amen.”

Sample prayer when it is hard to tell if the anger is righteous or unrighteous:
“Dear God, I am angry and I don’t know if my anger is righteous or unrighteous, but You do! Please help me not to sin or to hold any bitterness or anger in my heart. I leave my anger and this problem with You, because I know it’s Your job to judge and not mine. Amen.”

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 6:16-20 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

James 3:14-18 “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”