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A Christian Parenting Tool that Addresses the Heart

This discipleship tool for Christian parents can be used with 3-7 year olds to address not just outward behavior, but the heart.

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As Christian parents we know it is not sufficient to just address our kids’ behaviors. We know that God tells us to take every opportunity to teach them His ways and His truths (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). These cards were developed as a discipleship tool to do just that.

The intention behind this tool is not to “fix” misbehaviors. Rather, these cards are intended to maximize a moment, to instill God’s truth, and to help them begin to learn how their hearts are connected to their behaviors.

These cards are intended for use with children between the ages of 3 and 7.

When to use the Heart of the Matter Cards

Not every difficult behavior is a result of a hard heart. It is important for parents to practice discernment. Some children misbehave because they have not yet learned the skills and tools they need to regulate their bodies or emotions. In this case, the underlying issue does not originate in the heart – it is from a lack of skills. They will need plenty of practice to develop these new skills.

Some children have experienced trauma and loss and are overwhelmed by difficult and powerful feelings. They need healing and compassion.

These cards are not intended to be used to shame a child into compliance. When we approach discipleship of our children from a place of humility and gentleness, we provide the Spirit with the opportunity to move and restore.

These cards are helpful when we notice patterns of misbehavior that stem from a hard heart (greed, pride, selfishness) or when we desire to teach our kids God’s truth in response to a misbehavior.

How the cards can help

Our Heart of the Matter Parenting Cards can help a child:

  • Identify what they did wrong
  • Connect inner heart attitude to outward behavior
  • Understand God’s word
  • Create space for conviction
  • Create an opportunity for repentance
  • Experience the love and forgiveness of God

Young children are visual learners. Pictures communicate information better than spoken or written words ever could. Our cards pictorially depict 5 different common childhood misbehaviors. It may feel as if the list of misbehaviors is endless, but most behavior problems will fit into these 5 broad categories:

  • Anger outbursts
  • Disrespect towards parents/ backtalk
  • Hurting another person
  • Arguing or refusing to share
  • Not listening

Here’s a sample:

The cards allow parents to have a conversation about how what goes on inside of us can fuel our behavior on the outside. It also helps children learn what God’s Word has to say on such matters. There is a parent guide included in each set that walks you through the use of the cards with sample questions are discussion points.

Tips on how to use the Heart of the Matter Cards

  • Wait until the child is “teachable” (has a soft heart). Children cannot learn when emotionally reactive or dysregulated
  • Spread the cards before the child and have them pick which one(s) best show their behavior
  • Flip the card over
  • Ask the child to describe what they see. What do they notice about how the child felt on the inside? What do they notice about their behavior?
  • Read the Bible verse
  • Share how everyone struggles with a hard heart sometimes and that God is the only one who can really help us change our hearts
  • Pray together, thank God for His love, and ask for forgiveness
  • Hug your child
  • Have them make amends, if necessary

Many parents have found this tool to be a great aid in helping them create space in their discipline for discipleship rather than just simply focusing on outward behavior and obedience.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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 parents. 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.

5 Comments

  • I am a grand parent visitin my grandkids and the kids and the mother of the kids is saved and going to Church with the kids one boy and one girl. The Father of the kids is not a believer and doesn’t go to church. The boy has a lot of anger and out burst and the parents have him see a therapist seems to help a little bit. Can your cards still help him or are there other ways of help this is a very desperate time of need and they have no money to afford to pay for any help. Hat to see our grandkids that do have good hearts with anger problems destroy there life’s.

    • Hi Buddy,

      Thank you for your heart for your grandson. It can be so hard to watch our loved ones struggle. I think the cards are more appropriate for younger children. I would continue to pray for him and you might want to share this article with his mother. There might be some good tools in there she can use.

      I hope that helps. God bless you,
      Laura

  • Laura, I love these! I’m going to order some and bring them with me when I speak next. I’ll try to refer to it and also I will have it as a resource for at my resource table!!

    • Thanks Melanie. It is such a simple tool, but having those pictures makes all the differences for little ones. It really helps get to the heart. I am so grateful for our partnership.

      Blessings to you and yours,
      Laura

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