Start in the Heart


King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. He said to “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Dr. Scott Turansky, co-founder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting, reminds us that the heart is shaped by what you think about all day long.

One of the ways you can tell that a child is “getting it” is when you actually see change in behavior. Jesus referred to a person’s behavior as coming from the heart when he said in Luke 6:45, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

Actions are a measuring stick of what’s happening in the heart. That’s why parents and teachers get excited when their children do things that demonstrate thoughtfulness, generosity, or cooperation. It’s an indication that a heart change may be taking place.

The heart contains the operating principles of a person. You can tell what kinds of things are in the heart by the tendencies a child has. How does your child tend to act when interrupted, when she gets a “no” answer, or he’s being corrected? You can learn a lot about a person’s heart by watching how the child responds under pressure. These typical patterns come from the heart, and, if change is going to take place, heart-based strategies will be needed.

Take anger for example. A child who has a pattern of continually reacting to life with outbursts of anger, needs a multifaceted approach to change. Helping the child change what he believes about life, being firm and correcting regularly, and talking about anger and alternative solutions all contribute to a deeper work in a child’s heart. Heart-based strategies equip children for life, involving teaching and training so new tendencies develop. A change in a pattern of angry responses takes time and a lot of work from parents as God puts it all together on a deeper level.

Children Need To Know
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

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