WT 95: Discipling Your Child's Heart

Hello Moms - it’s great to be back with you guys again this week. We’ve had a bunch of questions coming in lately all about discipline, but not necessarily the obvious kind of discipline. The questions we have to talk about with Karen today are all focused on the heart - how to talk to your child about what is going on inside their heart and how to address some of the behaviors that don’t necessarily deserve a time out. Today I am really glad to get to hear Karen’s wisdom on these!

Question 1: Karen our 8 year old son’s heart is just a mess right now. He’s our oldest and can be SO selfish, self-centered and just plain ugly to his siblings. I’ve tried being gentle and then being tough but nothing seems to get through to him. What do you do when you feel like there’s nothing you CAN do to fix your kid’s heart? 

Karen's Answer: Well, the hard thing about this question is, you can’t “fix” someones’ heart. Let’s be honest, we are ALL selfish, self-centered and can be plain ugly. The oldest child is the one we notice it in the most because they are the oldest. Trust me, it’s in all of our children and us. But, what is a mom to do? Pray!  Don’t discount that! Pray God would show your son how his actions are affecting you and other members of your family. Don’t allow him to get away with it. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, unfortunately it takes time. As moms, we want a quick fix, you know, get after them one time and then they change, but it doesn’t work that way. Don’t give up. One thing that was effective with Kelsey was, I would tell her she couldn’t play with other friends until she started treating Emily like she was her friend (that was very effective!) Keep doing what you are doing, having those gentle talks and punishing when needed. Keep it up. Consistency is key! When your son is affected by other people’s ugliness or selfishness, ask him how that feels, and point it back to his own situation. Ask God for wisdom on for Him to work on your son’s heart.


Question 2: My 4 year old is very sensitive emotionally, and when I get on to her for something she lingers on it for a long time (even after having talks and trying to work it out). She told me 2 nights ago that she "doesn't love me anymore" & that "I'm no longer her best friend." I'm taken back and hurt - I told her I love her very much, and reiterated what I am as her mom and what I need to do, but this is such a grown conversation to have with a 4 year old. Thoughts? Advice?

Karen's Answer: It is a grown conversation, but I think a 4 year old can understand it. I used to tell my children, “I’m sorry you don’t like me right now, but I don’t answer to you, I answer to God and He has given me this job to raise you, so that’s what I’m doing. I think the other thing you’ve got to keep in mind, she is 4. When she says she doesn’t love you and you are not her best friend, she doesn’t mean that, she is just trying to manipulating you because she doesn’t like what you’ve done. That’s okay. You are doing what you are doing because you love her, and love has to be tough sometimes. I guarantee you, if she fell down and hurt herself, you would be the first person she’d cry out for! Tough skin mom! Being a mom is not for thin-skinned people. Keep doing what you are doing, she will thank you one day. She might be 25 years old, but she will!


Question 3: My daughter is into everything having to do with beauty; jewelry, makeup, sparkles, etc. I know that she's just being a little girl, but how can I show her that beauty is from the heart? I want her to see people for who they are, not what they look like. I want to discourage vanity without making her feel like putting effort into how you look is "bad".

Karen's Answer: I think that you do just what you just said, teach her that beauty is from the heart, and not just on the outside. My mom used to tell me, “Pretty is, is as pretty does.” I heard that my whole life, and I ended up getting it! Also, praise her more for her kind heart and generous actions than her outward beauty. I do think however, it is good, to tell your daughter you think she is pretty and she is beautiful. Every little girl needs to hear that. Look for examples in her life where you can highlight her heart.


Question 4: I need advice on how to discipline a strong willed 9 yr old - the only thing that seems to work now is taking privileges away like video games and TV. But my son knows it’s for a limited time and it doesn’t change anything long term. I have tried all those rewards charts and owning things with rewards. He will do something as long as there is a reward he wants but that doesn’t last long either. Taking things away just seems like trying to control him and not influencing him to choose desired behavior.

Karen's Answer: I would stick with what is working. If taking away privileges works, then keep doing it. Keep in mind he is 9, you are seeing change when you take away privileges so that is a good thing. Yes, in a little while what you are doing will not work, but there will be something else in his life that you will be able to take away that will hurt just as much. Eventually you teach that he is granted freedom with how responsible he is with what he has. Think about adding conversations to your discipline. Explain the “why” behind you want him to behave a certain way. Ask him to explain back to you what you have communicated to him. At least that way, you know some of what you are saying is sinking in. Keep in mind, we all behave because we don’t want to bear the consequences of not behaving . For instance, I pay taxes because I don’t want to go to jail, not because I have a love to pay taxes. Yes, the govt is controlling my actions, but it works, because I pay my taxes. Make sense? Sure, I’d punished one way when they were little and then would change it up as they got older. Nothing works forever. And I had more conversations with my children than I can count. I’m STILL having conversations over behavior, just not punishing them anymore. :) Discipline is hard, but with our consistency our children should learn right from wrong and that is our goal. My advice is to continue to be consistent.


Moms, we know your time is precious. Thank you for spending it with us. We hope you feel encouraged, equipped and most importantly—the peace of God. If you love tuning in each week to hear Karen answer questions from moms like you, make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast and remember, if you have a question about motherhood we want to hear it, so click the button below to send us your question and tune in each week to see if we answer it!

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