Parenting Insight You Can Use Now

Developing internal motivation in children is one of the fast tracks to help them toward maturity. Unfortunately, too often parents use external motivators to get their kids to move forward. “If you get your homework done then you can go out and play.” “If you clean your room then you can have some computer time.” This approach basically says, “If you do what I say, I’ll give you what you want.” Children trained this way often develop a mentality that focuses on external motivation instead of developing the internal motivations they’ll need to be responsible and mature.

God is interested in the heart. The heart contains motivations, emotions, convictions, and values. A heart-based approach to parenting looks deeper. When parents focus on the heart, then kids learn to ask the question, “What’s the right thing to do?”

A heart-based approach shares values and reasons behind rules. It requires more discussions with kids, helping children understand how their hearts are resistant and the need to develop cooperation. A heart-based approach is firm but also relational. It’s a different mindset for some parents and looks at the interaction of family life differently. Instead of simply getting the room cleaned and the dishes put away, parents are more interested in developing character, values, and convictions.

Another opportunity to focus on the heart is during times of correction. “I can see you’re angry because I said no. You need to take a break for a bit and settle your heart down and when you’re ready, come back and we’ll talk about it.” A heart approach requires a child to settle down first and then have a discussion with the parent about the problem and a better course of action. Address heart issues, not just behavior, and help children see things from a deeper perspective. Over time children will be able to understand what’s right and way, and internal motivation will come.

This parenting tip comes from the book The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

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