• Monday, July 20, 2009

  • Chapter 12- Getting from Behavior to the Heart

    Whoops - for those who were following the book, once again I let this slide. It has been a month since I addressed chapter 11. This chapter has a bunch of "ouches" for this parent and grandfather. I was a master at behavior modification and by the grace of God, somehow my kids' hearts turned out okay but sure not because I was aiming there! Their mom was much better than I was.

    To work on our children's hearts is to aim at the source of their bad behavior rather than the behavior itself. We used to have brief periods of "Camp Lockyer" where if their were patterns of behavior that needed to be changed, it was going to happen in the next 3 days! Through a series of rewards and punishments, the behavior was redirected and manipulated until Dad was satisfied. Trouble was that since the source of the behavior was not dealt with, it would show itself either again later or in a new form.

    The Tripps point our that:

    Behaviorism does not address the real need of our children

    Behaviorism provides our children with a false basis for ethics

    Behaviorism trains the heart in wrong paths

    Behaviorism obscures the message of the gospel

    Behaviorism shows the parent's idols

    To get to the heart of behavior requires formative instruction that helps your child see the connection between their behavior and their heart attitude that led to the behavior. To do so a parent needs to learn to ask good questions that reveal the child's heart. Questions that are open-ended and where the child can reveal what they were thinking and the motivation behind their behavior.

    Once the motivation is revealed, you as a parent will find a point of personal connection with the child for whether it is pride, selfishness, fear or other sources of motivation, you know what that sin is like. Identify with your child's struggle with the sin and provide the answer - the gospel!

    Hebrews 4: 14-16 tells us that Jesus identifies with our struggles and temptations and as our High Priest, we can draw near to Him with confidence and receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Your child needs you and especially the mercy and grace of Christ.

    How many times today have you barked out imperatives to your children that demanded a change of behavior without addressing the heart?

    Where are you using tools of manipulation in your discipline such as reward and punishment systems? Are they really producing long-term changes?

    Why do you really want your kids to behave? Is it to make your life easier? Is it so you look good to others? Is is so you know you are in control?

    How are you keeping the gospel central in your discipline?

    Note: The Tripps make it clear that it is not wrong to correct behavior and it is necessary in many situations. Part of this heart direction is to understand that in situations where the correction of behavior is necessary, your job is not done. Help them understand how they strayed from God's ways. Also look for typical responses by your child so you can address themes such as selfishness and then speak in depth to the attitude of the heart.


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