Building off of the last blog, if you are like me its difficult to remember good questions to ask our children when they are in the middle of misbehaving. And sometimes, I get caught up in the moment and focus on punitive measures verses correction (teaching). But, is our goal not to train/teach our children to love God and others? Otherwise we get in caught in this tide of behaviorism, where we bribe and reward good behavior and attack misbehavior with threats and discipline. Can we not train a lab rat the same way? Yet, our kids are infinitely more significant than rats, for they are image-bearers of the Creator God.
The grounding premise in correcting our children is this: Hearts drive behavior. If we simply treat the behavior, then we are raising our kids like animals. Yet, if we diligently seek to know their hearts, then we can treat them as image-bearers of God, training them to love Him and others (we cannot get to know the heart of a rat). So that is where questions are vital, they open the window to our children’s souls. When my son hits his sister and I ask him “Why?” I have simply asked a lazy question (refer to the last blog), that will inevitably give me an unenlightening answer. Here are other questions I could ask (taken from Shepherding a Child’s Heart-Ted Tripp, p.80):
What were you feeling when you hit your sister?
What did your sister do to make you mad?
Help me understand how hitting her seemed to make things better?
What was the problem with what she was doing to you? (You need not deny the fact that your child has been sinned against. Of course, he was sinned against. Let him tell you about it.)
In what other ways could you have responded?
How do you think your response reflected trust or lack of trust in God’s ability to provide for you?
These questions allow us to see into the heart that overflowed into the action of hitting. Tripp goes onto say there are 3 areas to address in this dialogue: 1)the nature of temptation, 2) the possible responses to this temptation, 3) his own sinful/selfish response.