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A Soft Heart is a Teachable Heart

What is a “teachable moment”? How can I spot them and capitalize on them? Here we will explore how you can know when the ground of your child’s heart is fertile for planting seeds of truth as well as a few examples of what you can do and use during these “teachable moments.”

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Teachable moments are those times in a day when your child’s heart is soft and ready to receive instruction. Teachable moments can be used to share a truth, problem solve, understand triggers, and plan for next time.  Usually, these moments follow a consequence. Most parents want their child to learn something from the experience – not just suffer the consequence and move on. Here we will explore what you can look for in your child’s demeanor, body language and attitude to make the most of a teachable moment. 

Signs your child has a soft heart

  • Seeks you out
  • Doesn’t turn away when you approach
  • Has slowed breathing
  • Has relaxed hands
  • Has slowed body movements
  • Has arms to the side (not on the hips)
  • Gives a genuine apology

Don’t wait for all of these descriptors to be in place before you provide some training, tools or guidance. Pride and hurt feelings can erect a barrier. Simply sitting next to your child in patient silence can make that wall crumble. However, if you see many of these descriptors missing, give him more time to soften. Once the wall is down, you can proceed with your “teachable moment.”

How to maximize a soft heart

  • Talk about what lead up to the problem
  • Identify what “alternate routes” he could have taken along the way that would have changed the outcome
  • Reinforce a foundational family value or truth
  • Reveal some of your own struggles as a child in the same area and how you learned from it (of course, you will need to use discretion when revealing personal information)
  • Read the Bible
  • Pray
  • Heart of the Matter Parenting Cards

Seek to go beyond just giving a consequence to helping your child make a lasting heart change. We want children who understand that every mistake is an opportunity for redemption and growth. Training when the heart is soft will make the biggest impression.

Image by Westfale from Pixabay
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.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.


  • Awesome! I love this article! Reaching the heart is what it is all about — I love all the ideas/suggestions you give on how to do so!

    • Melanie,
      You are so right – the heart is so important. Fixing the outside (behavior) but not the inside (heart) is like a “white-washed tomb.”

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      Blessings to you and yours,

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