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How to Use the Circle of Blessing with Kids

Laura Kuehn, LCSW
Written by Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Use the “circle of blessing” to help your child understand the concept of repentance and restoration. Free printable included!

In his book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp uses the term “circle of blessing” as a way to help parents conceptualize their role in training their children . Even though his book is quite controversial (and I do not recommend it), the circle of blessing can be a useful training tool for Christian parents that could easily be overlooked by its critics.

I have taken Tripp’s idea and created a free parenting printable.

You can click the picture to view it larger and print it out if you wish. Here are some tips on how you can use this training tool with your children.

Introduce at time of peace

As you show it to them, ask them what differences they notice between the children pictured in the circle of blessing and the ones on the outside. Point out the condition of the two hearts. Also point out those things that are in place to help them stay inside the circle (rules, God’s word, their conscience, etc).

The blessings of obedience

Next, talk about some of the blessings they will experience when they are inside the circle. Here are a few, but see if they can come up with any of their own.

  • They will get along with others
  • They will experience God’s peace
  • They will be trusted to do the right thing
  • They will feel connected to others

The results of disobedience

You will also need to explain that there will be some sort of response on your part if they choose to leave the circle. You can tell them that the safest (and most fun!) place for them to be is inside the circle and if they leave, you care about them too much to leave them there. Your job is to show them the way back in through teaching, discussing, training and correcting.

A way back in

Your children will now likely want to know how they can get back in the circle. You can brainstorm together, but here are some suggestions for concrete ways you can explain the concept of repentance:

  • Understand what happened and why it was wrong
  • Admit your part
  • Apologize (this cannot be demanded or forced)
  • Make it right
  • Have a teachable, soft heart

Offer warnings

You can let your children know if some of their behavior is heading them outside of the circle. You can give a warning, but do not make it your goal to keep them from leaving. Sometimes they will have to learn where the edge of the circle is by going outside of it. Your job is not to force them to obey. You are simply there to teach them about God’s best for them.

Heart of the Matter Cards

Consider using our Heart of the Matter Parenting Cards with your children at the point of transition from outside to inside of the circle. These cards help children to see the connection between their behavior and the condition to their heart. You can learn more about how to use these cards here.

Restoration

Always be willing to welcome them back in with open arms. That is what God does for us when we repent. He is never far, no matter how far we stray from Him. This is the perfect opportunity to share the hope and truth of the gospel. Jesus came for sinners and covered all our sins: past, present and future.

A note to parents

First, this tool is best suited for children 4 and up. You will have to adjust the language to fit the developmental stage of your child.

Second, this tool is best when used as a training tool – a way to teach the concept of repentance and restoration. It should not be implemented solely as a corrective measure in hopes of bringing a child into compliance or “under control.” It is not intended to bring shame or guilt, but rather provide an opportunity for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We cannot convict our children of sin. That is not our job. Our job is to teach God’s best for them, illuminate the path to repentance, and help them grasp God’s deep love for them and His heart of forgiveness.

Finally, the goal of this tool is not to create perfectly behaved children who never stray outside of the circle. That is not possible. We are all sinners and tainted by the Fall. When we use this tool, with humility and gentleness, we can approach our children as a fellow sinner who knows the One who can show us the way to a clean and restored heart.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed therapist who offers individual and parent counseling to residents of Connecticut. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of her favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She is happily married with a young adult son and a teenage daughter.

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6 Comments

  • I thought Dr. Paul Tripp was “spot-on” in his book. His Biblical basis seems sound – and his experience as a Christian Counselor and Staff Member of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (www.ccef.org) gives him extraordinary insight and expertise to help Christian parents.

    I also thought your “handout” idea was great – have used it and it was very effective.

    To God be the Glory – for both of you.

    Jim Howell
    Pastor
    The Church on Wiles Road
    Coral Springs, Florida

  • Your blog is a Godsend…I have a strong-willed 4 year old that challenges me daily. I’ve been praying about ways to raise him in the fear and the admonition of God. Thank you for this wealth of wisdom for rearing Christ followers.

    • Hi Tonyi – It warms my heart to hear how God is using this site to minister to others. Thank you for being an encouragememt to me.

      You are not alone in your struggles.

      Kids are like clay and we try our very best to shape them with the guiding hand of our Teacher. Some kids are soft – easy to mold. Others have sharp rocks embedded in the clay, making the shaping painful. Others are very hard to shape at all.

      But we persevere, realizing that we cannot trade in the lump we have been given for something easier – always looking to the One who has given it to us for help. God did not make a mistake when he gave you your particular “lump” of clay.

      Your hands are the perfect tool for shaping your son into a vessel that will glorify the Master.

      God bless you,
      Laura