Reaching Your Child’s Heart When They Disobey

I remember taking our boys to Disneyland when they were around 6 and 8. One of them was determined to get his way and had a meltdown. My attempted solution was to threaten, “Control yourself, or you will never come here again.”

It was a silly parenting strategy on my part because at the time, Jean and I enjoyed taking the boys to Disneyland and creating memories. In other words, I wasn’t really willing to follow through on the consequences I threatened.

We parents sometimes get off track by losing sight of the bigger picture. Parenting strategies like bribing, threatening – even counting to three – are only slightly effective in controlling a child’s behavior. And they usually fail to reach a child’s heart entirely. We focus on the short-term goal of winning a conflict all while missing the long-term goal of developing their character.

On our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Reaching Your Child’s Heart When They Disobey,” author Ginger Hubbard suggests a different approach.

She recommends asking heart-probing questions that help your children evaluate themselves, rather than you detailing the problem and explaining exactly how to solve it. Heart-probing questions help children not only recognize their mistakes, but take ownership over them.

She also says that just as important as teaching children what’s wrong is teaching them what’s right. Don’t simply give consequences. Help your child understand a better way.

This program will give you practical insights on how to train up your child at age-appropriate stages, ask the right questions, and encourage your child in the right direction. Specifically, we’re discussing in-depth how to handle problems like lying, defiance, and tattling.

Listen on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app.

Our conversations were based on Ginger’s wonderful book, I Can’t Believe You Just Said That: Biblical Wisdom for Taming Your Child’s Tongue. As the title implies, it’s packed with biblical wisdom to help you connect with your child’s heart instead of only shaping their outer behavior. We’ll send you a copy for a gift of any amount. Visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.

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Jim Daly

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