What is heart-based parenting and how can I use it to connect with my son’s heart? Find out in this episode of Redeeming the Chaos.
Have you tried all the things?
Have you tried all the parenting strategies and you just don’t see any difference in your son’s negative behavior? You’ve tried everything from sticker charts, to stricter punishment, to yelling and threatening, to taking away toys or video games, to bribing with ice cream. Yet, nothing seems to change his behavior, or his heart.
Momma, I get it. I understand and I’ve been there. But there is hope for you and your son.
How do I deal with my son’s negative behavior?
So, what is the solution to these negative behaviors in our boys that we just can’t seem to get under control?
The answer is heart-based parenting.
I’ll start with a quick personal story. I’m a mom of 4 boys. One of my sons has struggled with anger management for years. We tried everything, from stricter punishment and reward systems, to play therapy, to counseling. At times, his anger would get so out of control that I feared for the safety of our other kids. Nothing was connecting with his heart.
But once we began consistently using a heart-based parenting strategy, we saw change. As we started using the 7 tools of heart-based parenting (that I will be talking about today), we were able to connect with our son’s heart and we started to see a change in his behavior.
We’ve seen our son develop qualities of kindness, unselfishness, self-control, responsibility, hard work, and cooperation.
Granted, my son still has a ways to go (don’t we all??) and God is still working in his life, but these 7 heart-based parenting tools have made a huge difference in our family.
What is heart-based parenting?
Most styles of parenting use a behavior modification approach, or a “reward and punishment” system. You do XYZ then you receive XYZ.
While this may work for short term behavior change, it rarely affects a child’s inner motivation to change or to do the right thing. Behavior modification ultimately fosters selfishness.
A heart-based approach to parenting focuses on tendencies, belief systems, and inner motivations of your child. It trains a child to obey because they have a sense of inner obligation to do the right thing. A heart-based approach also considers the work of the Holy Spirit in a child’s life. Ultimately, God is the one who changes the hearts of our children.
National Center for Biblical Parenting
As many of you know, I have been trained as a parent coach and seminar presenter for the National Center for Biblical Parenting. The concept of heart-based parenting was developed by the founders, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. Most of the content we talk about in this episode today comes from my training from this organization.
I recently interviewed Dr. Turansky on Redeeming the Chaos and we talked about contentment and what to do when your son can’t take “No” for an answer. You can listen to that episode HERE.
The National Center for Biblical Parenting produces a lot of resources that help parents connect with their children’s hearts. A few of the titles I would recommend are:
So, a heart-based approach sounds great, doesn’t it?
How do I deal with challenging behaviors?
But what does this look like? What about the day-to-day sanity of my home? How do I deal with those challenging behaviors?
Don’t worry—a heart-based approach deals with behaviors. In fact, heart-based parenting provides super practical tools to deal with unwanted behaviors in our kids. But our focus is not only behaviors. External behaviors are a signal to what is going on at a deeper heart level.
Heart-based parenting uses scripture as well as proven tools and techniques to equip you to coach your child. You are your child’s best teacher!
We also rely heavily on the Holy Spirit to work in your child’s heart, as well as your own! God will use you as a tool to influence your child, but ultimately, God is the only one who can change the heart.
Characteristics of heart-based parenting
Here are a few characteristics of heart-based parenting.
- focuses on relationship.
- is based on Biblical principles.
- is not a “one size fits all” approach.
- believes that parents are the best coaches / counselors for their kids.
- teaches kids to learn to live within limitations.
- teaches kids to show honor.
- teaches kids to handle their emotions.
- teaches practical tools, not just theories.
- provides a plan and new strategies for parenting.
- gives hope.
In several upcoming episodes, we are going to be talking about 7 tools of heart-based parenting.
These tools are:
Tool #1 – Relationship
In this article, we’ll discuss the first tool — strengthening your relationship with your son.
When you connect on an emotional level about something your son is passionate about, it will open the door for you to reach his heart on a deeper level in other areas as well.
Building a relationship with your son will help to soften his heart and allow you to connect with him on a deeper level.
Here is a list of some practical ideas to help you build a deeper relationship with your son:
- Make an emotional connection with your son, then celebrate!
- Find something to do together that brings delight to your son.
- Let your son know how much you enjoy spending time with him. “We make a good team!” “I enjoy doing this with you.” “I’m looking forward to doing this again soon!”
- Listen without being critical.
- Talk about life without always teaching a lesson.
- Ask him what he enjoys doing.
- Join him in an activity he enjoys, even if it’s something you don’t enjoy.
- Affirm his uniqueness and let him know what you appreciate about him.
- Point out his strengths.
- Just be present with him.
- Look him in the eyes. Get down on his level.
- Be strategic about spending time together. Take your son out on a date.
- Greet your son with sincere enthusiasm — in the morning; when he comes home from school— let him know you’re happy to see them. (Even if you aren’t).
- Make his favorite snack for him.
- Show empathy by validating how your son is feeling before you jump in and try to correct their behavior.
- Offer comfort and compassion – we want to relate to our children the same way God relates to us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says that God is a Father of compassion and a God of comfort. He comforts us in our troubles, so that we can be a comfort to others!
We want to meet our kids’ emotional needs, empathize with how they’re feeling, but don’t neglect to show firmness at the same time. (More on that in a future email!)
Some of these tips may sound simplistic, but you will be surprised at the difference you’ll see in how your son relates to you, after putting some of these tips into practice for a short time.
Don’t want to wait to get the rest of the 7 heart-based parenting tools? I’ll let you in on a little secret: When you take THIS QUIZ, I’ll send you the 7 heart based tools in a series of emails!
This fun quiz will help you learn more about your son’s personality. What are his strengths and weaknesses? How you can best connect with his heart?
After taking the quiz, you’ll receive tips on how to build a deeper relationship with your son and his unique personality.