This is the last week of our Shepherding a Child’s Heart book study! Today we are covering chapters 16 and 17, which covers training objective and procedures in the childhood (ages 5-12) years.
As children get into the school years, they need the character traits that will enable them to do the right thing even when Mom and Dad aren’t around. As Tripp says,
The big issue during these middle years is character. Your child’s character must be developed in several areas. You want your child to learn dependability, honesty, kindness, consideration, helpfulness, diligence, loyalty, humility, self-control, moral purity, and a host of other character qualities.
This requires addressing more than simply disobedience or disrespectful attitudes towards the parents. Making new rules to govern every single issue doesn’t work if the child’s character is neglected. To develop the character, the parent must first assess the needs of the children by looking at the child in relationship to God, to himself, and to others.
After this is done, the process of training the heart can begin. As before, addressing the heart is essential, rather than simply focusing on the behavior. “Unless you take the behavior apart in this way, you end up always addressing the externals. You will be like the man who tries to solve the problem of weeds in his lawn by mowing the grass. The weeds always grow back.”
This quote struck me as a really good visual for the overall premise of this book. The heart is central to behavior. I think this idea is most useful in the childhood years when the child’s conscience and sense of right and wrong really begins to develop. A good reminder for me as my oldest son is entering this stage.