Tripp broke up his seminars this morning into ages. He started out the Elementary age by answering some question about spanking and discipline. That is why this one is much shorter than the last:
Heart Directed Behavior: Session 2
What are kids say and do flows from the heart. Proverbs 4:23. Behavior can never be understood in isolation from the heart.
Leads to behavior: (say and do)
Kids learn how to manipulate your systems. We are not in the task of manipulating our children. This is not behaviorism. This is heart-directed, Gospel centered obedience. Its not about rewards-based obedience.
There are so many things we can do as parents to manipulate our child’s behavior. But fighting over toys doesn’t just come along. It comes out of the heart. Fighting over toys or arguing is based out of a love for self, a heart bent toward sin. We can’t just address the behavior, we have to address the heart. If we are successful in getting the behavior we want without ever addressing the heart, we are showing them that they can get along in life without ever addressing their need for the Gospel.
If we never challenge the love of self, but just manipulate the behavior (sharing the toys). This is not biblical change, it is what Jesus has already condemned the behavior of the Pharisees (dead men, white washed tombs, dirty cups). Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup, than you can take care of the outside. When the heart is full of love for others, than sharing won’t be a problem. It is not that we never correct behavior, but we want to get a bigger vision. We haven’t “won” when we get the behavior changed. We need to address the self-preservation, self-love, self-motivation.
Whenever I am manipulating behavior, I am hypocritically distancing myself from their behavior. “I can’t believe you are so selfish.” There is hypocrisy in this statement. We are all selfish. We tend to draw attention to our good works, and self-sacrifice. Our hearts are not pure. We are also full of self-motivation. We want others to see our good works to praise us. The perverseness of the human heart underscores our actions. Ungodly attitudes of the heart: revenge, fear of man, pride, love of self, self-preservation, fear, envy, hatred, anger, approval, anxiety and fear, covetousness, rebellion. These are godly attitudes and heart behavior that we want to instill and grow in our kids: fear of God, humility, fear of others, generosity, love, peacemaking, God’s approval, grace, submission, perfect love, good of others.
How do we get our kids to start thinking about heart attitudes vs their behavior. You can’t do this with a two year old, but you can do it with an older child. We need to pray for the change of heart in our children. This is not just a salvation event. Christ has given us all things – the whole work of grace. From before the world began to the consummation of all things. There is grace in Christ. Always be taking your child to this place of grace.
Our hope is only found in Christ. We must show this to our kids. This doesn’t always mean telling them to go write Bible verses. Writing Bible verses is good and instructive, but not if you don’t address the behavior of the heart. (Personal note: I learned this well at LCS. I had to write Scripture out many times, I don’t remember the Scripture, but I remember being told to write the verses.). It is not about the writing exercise, it is about moving the child in the direction of the gospel. We need to set grace at work in our child’s heart. Grace is at work in our hearts. We aren’t above the need for grace in our lives. Every opportunity for correction is an opportunity to talk about grace and Jesus’ work on the cross and its ability to change a sinner’s heart.