What do you want from your kids? Behavior change or heart change?

Our temptation as parents is work for compliance from our kids. We want them to do what we want them to do. But what happens when they are not around us? Many times, their behavior changes entirely.

What we need most is heart change. But getting there is a bit harder than simply demanding that our kids obey.

Turansky and Miller addressed this in a note I got from them last week. It's brilliant stuff. Because these people from the National Center for Biblical Parenting are brilliant people. Their approach to parenting is literally life-changing.

And have I mentioned that they will be at Johnson Ferry in a few weeks? We will be privileged to have them speak on the issue of attitude in our kids. Whether your kids are 2 or 18, there is something to learn on this subject.

If your kids have perfect attitudes, then stay home. I'm sure there are a lot of you out there who don't struggle with this at all. Your kids' attitudes are perfect all the time. Yeah...that's most everybody.

But if you struggle in this area, please carve out Friday night, September 17 from 6:30 - 9:00 for a great time of learning. It just might change things dramatically in your home.

You can register online for the event here.

Anyway, here's some of what Turansky and Miller have to say about heart change... 


Too often parents focus only on behavior, getting the right actions down, but they don't address the heart. Jesus criticized the Pharisees, saying that they looked good on the outside but their hearts were still not changed. He said, "First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

Focusing on behavior change is not enough. Many parents work hard to help their children look good on the outside. Inadvertently, these parents teach their children "image management" the ability to appear good, clean, and nice. A change of heart is what children really need though.

Unfortunately, you can't force children to change their hearts. But we can do a lot to motivate them to make the necessary changes. We've identified several tools that, when used properly, address the heart. First, use sorrow instead of anger in the discipline process. Parents who misuse this technique often lay a guilt trip on their children. The key is to be genuine. If you, as a parent, look past your anger for a moment you will see that you truly are sad about what your child has done because you know the long-term consequences of such behavior. Reflect it in a gentle way. It's amazing to see how children will respond.

Another way to influence a child's heart is to use the scriptures. The Bible has an amazing quality, the ability to pierce through to the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Don't use the Bible in a harsh way. Instead reveal what the Bible has to say about being kind or respectful or obedient. There's a lot of wisdom and conviction that comes through the scriptures.

Be sure to talk about the heart during times of correction. "I can see you're angry because I said no, I'd like you 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." It will take work and a child may need some long times to settle down at first, but a change of heart is worth it in the end. Resolve the tension by having a Positive Conclusion together. Talk about what went wrong and why it was wrong. Address heart issues, not just behavior and help children see things from a deeper perspective.

You may think of some other ideas but whatever you do, don't rely on simple behavior modification techniques. They don't go deep enough and often don't address the real issues.

How have you been successful at addressing heart issues in your family? Click here to tell us about it.

This parenting tip comes from the book,  Home Improvement, The Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kidsby Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

If this tip was sent to you by a friend and you'd like to continue to receive tips yourself, you can sign up at www.biblicalparenting.org.