The Gospel and a Child’s Emotional Health
It can be challenging to know how to respond to children’s outbursts and help them manage their emotions in healthy ways. However, the heart-based approach is the most effective way to bring about lasting, positive change in a child’s emotional well-being. An emotional child can be an asset since emotions are basically good. They just need to be managed. Looking for christian parenting help can make all the difference since God designed us as emotional beings.
Sometimes parents think that a heart-based approach is about doing more talking. Although talking is good, that’s not all of what’s in the heart. Other parents think that it means being more touchy-feely with kids. Affection is good, but a heart-based approach goes much deeper. The heart is where we process things. There’s actually a workshop in the heart of a child. The heart is where emotions and desires and beliefs all come together to produce thinking patterns.
As parents, we have the opportunity to partner with God in the work he wants to do in our child’s heart. Understanding God’s design for emotions is critical. When we cooperate with what God wants to do, the solutions are endless, and the results are amazing.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is essential for healthy emotional management, and kids need to know “how” not just “what.” It’s not enough to tell kids what to do; we need to show them how to apply the gospel to their lives.
For example, anxiety is often found in the desire to control situation or to know things that can’t be known presently. The person who has peace is someone who learns to trust even in the unknown.
Jack was 14 years old when he began to understand why he got angry so often. He had expectations about how life should go, and how others should respond to him. He realize that he was holding those expectations too tightly so that when things didn’t turn out the way he wanted, he would experience frustration inside. He needed his emotional comfort zone stretched.
Jack’s parents used a lot of approaches to help him deal with his emotions. But the thing that he now says helped him the most was learning how to give up his agenda and become more of a servant in life instead of a boss. It’s not necessary to preach to children, in order to teach the biblical principles.
Rewarding a child to stop fussing may seem like an easy solution, but it often makes things worse over time. Instead, we need to invest time and energy in our child’s heart. It may take more effort, but the results are worth it.
Here are a few practical ways to work in your child’s heart:
- Listen: Take time to listen to your child’s concerns and validate feelings. When a child feels heard and understood, it helps the child process the emotions in a healthy way. It also gives you the opportunity to speak truth into the child’s life. You often have to earn the right to speak by listening.
- Model healthy emotional management: Kids learn by example. Show them how to manage their emotions in a healthy way by modeling it yourself. Saying, “I’m feeling anxious about a meeting I have at work today.” Or “I’m disappointed that I didn’t meet my deadline,” can help children see that emotions are experienced by others and they aren’t alone in the struggle.
- Teach them the gospel: Help your children understand how the gospel applies to their emotions. Teach them that they can turn to God in times of distress and that he is always there to help them.
- Be firm: Help children realize that they can’t live this way anymore. Things have to change and the current course is not only unproductive but dangerous both now and for their future.
Working in the heart of a child can be messy, but it’s where the real change takes place. As parents, you have the opportunity to partner with God in the work he wants to do in your child’s heart. Remember, the heart is the most sacred place on earth, and it’s where God wants to live and work.
Good and Angry
Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kid
by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN
“Parents often respond to their kids with anger and then feel guilty. We want to give you a plan to deal with the current problems in your kids that will actually build lasting character in them.”
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