How to channel your child’s desires

John Piper writes, “The primary fact about little children in the Bible is that they are helpless and dependent on adults for their life. We have to give them food, clothing, shelter and protection. Otherwise, they will starve or freeze or choke or fall. A little child knows nothing of self-reliance. He relies on his parents for everything, and, for a while at least, he doesn’t mind this at all. He loves it. And good parents love it.” 1

The following training insight from the National Center for Biblical Parenting will help you better understand what to do about children’s desires.


We all wish our children would desire the right things in life and avoid tempting situations. Knowing the difference between a healthy desire and a temptation, however, can be a challenge at times, especially for kids. Desires aren’t always bad; in fact, many of our longings are good. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

We have a responsibility to guide our children in the right direction. We encounter desires and temptations every day. By talking with our children about how we deal with those situations, we can provide them with examples that will help them learn what to do with their own desires and temptations.

One twelve-year-old asked his mom why she didn’t get angry when she was cut off by another driver on the road, giving mom a perfect opportunity to talk about how she lets offenses go so she doesn’t have to harbor the anger. Mom knew her son needed that message, because he’d been treated unfairly at school and was tempted to act out his own anger. He listened and pondered what she said. Mom watched the wheels turn in his head and knew she had just connected somewhere deep inside her son.

Don’t miss the opportunities provided by day-to-day life to point out to your kids appropriate ways to deal with desires. Explain to them why you pursue some desires and let others go, and help them see how those principles apply to their own lives. Your experience can be a valuable guide for your children. 2


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1 John Piper. The Children, The Church, and the Chosen. Web 2013.
2 Dr. Scott Turansky. National Center for Biblical Parenting. Web 2013.

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