As we relaunch our website, we've selected a few of our most helpful blog posts to bring before you again. We hope this teaching blesses your parenting!
A biblical picture of the heart includes a child’s mind, will, and emotions. In our role as parents, we are charged with training our children in all three of these areas so that they will grow up wholly committed to Christ. Anytime your child has a problem or issue, it is going to fall into one or more of these three categories. Of course, these areas are intertwined, but let’s examine each component individually so that we will be able to see how this works and apply the proper method for training needed. If we appeal to their emotions when it is their thinking that is confused, we will not make much headway. They may be feeling just fine while they are consumed by selfish thoughts! On the other hand, if they are making disobedient choices, it will not help to encourage them (obviously) or to give that lecture again.
1. The first area, the mind, deals with what they know or do not know. Sometimes children misbehave because they do not understand the right way. So if that is the issue, then we deal with their mind and teach them what they need to understand.
HEART ASPECT: MIND / INTELLECT
AREA NEEDING GROWTH: LEARNING / UNDERSTANDING
REPLACE WITH: TEACHING / INSTRUCTION
Training our children in the area of the mind means we are replacing ignorance or lack of knowledge with truthful teaching so that they understand what you are teaching.
2. The next area, the will deals with their choice to obey or rebel. It means that they know what they should do and are doing it, or they know what they should do but they will not do it.
HEART ASPECT: WILL / ACTING ON DECISIONS
AREA NEEDING GROWTH: OBEDIENCE
REPLACE WITH: DISCIPLINE
Training our children in the area of the will means that we are replacing willful disobedience or defiance with discipline and correction. (This may also include attitude.)
Training the will involves a process of ongoing admonition, exhortation, and teachable moments – following up on their willful actions with correction and discipline where appropriate, but also praise when they obey. They will learn that making a wise, obedient choice is better than receiving the consequence of a disobedient one.
3. The last area, emotion, deals with how they are handling a situation emotionally. They know what to do, but they may be discouraged or fearful. Their emotions can make them question what they know they should do in a situation, thus overriding their mind and will. All the components of the heart need to work together in balance.
HEART ASPECT: EMOTION
AREA NEEDING GROWTH: IDENTIFYING & UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS
REPLACE WITH: ENCOURAGEMENT
For example, in this area we may be replacing discouragement with encouragement or fear with courage. This child needs to have his heart refocused to trust in the Lord. Discipline would only further dishearten the child.
As you can see, we cannot ignore these important components - mind, will, and emotion in our daily interactions with our children. Basing our responses and actions on the status of their heart will immediately make a difference in how we train and discipline our children.
Parenting this way requires patience and discernment. You may need to ask questions to get to the heart of the issue. Over time, you will see that this investment is incredibly helpful for guiding your children. Remember Galatians 6:9,“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
(The Power of Commitment by Jerry White was the original source of this concept. Betsy has expanded upon it as it applies to parenting. Learn more in Entrusted with a Child’s Heart, Chapter 9: Committed to Discipline.)