Last January, several of my blogging friends started talking about the book Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. Based on their reviews, I put the book on my "to read someday" list, but hadn't gotten around to it. In May, the companion book Motivate Your Child Action Plan was released. I was able to be part of that review team and read both of the books.
The authors of these books have an approach to parenting that is unlike any I have read before. Instead of relying on behavioral systems with rewards and punishments, they focus on "heart parenting." Heart parenting deals with internal motivation, the conscience, faith, and relationships instead of external programs or tricks.
Motivate Your Child introduces the idea that the conscience serves four roles. It prompts you to do what's right, deal with wrongs, be honest, and care about others. Internal motivation comes when children (and adults) follow the promptings of the conscience and don't rely on external motivation. As a parent, I often spend too much time being my child's conscience and not enough time teaching them to rely on their conscience for internal motivation. This book helped me realize that I can't find easy solutions to behavioral struggles in our home. No amount of sticker charts, candy, or promised rewards will be as effective as me taking the time to build relationships with our children and teaching them to have their own internal motivation to do what's right.
Motivate Your Child Action Plan steps in to fill in the some of the understanding gaps I had after reading Motivate Your Child. The first book gives a lot of knowledge and biblical support for the heart parenting concept, and the second book shows parents how to implement those theories in real life. It's not a step-by-step plan to follow, however. Instead of giving the parent answers and then arguing that it will work for every child in every family, the authors outline a path for each family to follow in order to find the right strategy for them.
These two books will perhaps have more of a lasting impact on me and my parenting skills than any other book I've run across. They both encourage me along my parenting path and challenge me to do better. They acknowledge that parenting isn't for the faint of heart, but also reassure me that the time spent teaching my children will not be wasted. Long terms gains don't come from taking parenting shortcuts now. Long term gains come from pouring my heart into my children every day.
Sometimes being a parent isn't easy. I'm thankful for these two fabulous books from the National Center for Biblical Parenting that can help me find a path toward becoming a more effective parent and building strong relationships with my children.
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