How Do You Define a Change of Heart?

At the National Center for Biblical Parenting we talk a lot about helping children change their hearts. You may be thinking, "My children don't know how to change their hearts." What does that mean anyway, and what can we expect in any given discipline situation?

When a child has done the wrong thing, it's often helpful to require some alone time with instructions like, "You need to take a break. Come back and we'll talk about this after you change your heart." Children may not understand how it happens but with practice they can learn to change their hearts. A change of heart in children involves four steps:

1. Stop fighting, calm down, and be willing to talk about the problem

2. Acknowledge having done something wrong

3. Be willing to change

4. Commit to doing right

These are all steps that a child can do. Ideally we would also like to see two other steps take place:

5. Feel sorrow for doing wrong

6. Have a desire to do what's right

Now, that may sound like a lot, but children grow into this process slowly and we can help them through the steps. If your son has been disrespectful in the way he spoke to you, first he needs to stop and settle down and be willing to work on the problem. Then secondly, he needs to acknowledge that he was wrong. Thirdly, he needs to be willing to respond differently next time. And lastly, he needs to commit to trying to do better.

Sometimes children may only settle down (Step #1) in the "break." Then they are ready to process the other steps with the parent. Other times, children may be able to work through all four steps and then just report back to the parent. The only prerequisite for coming back from a break is that a child be willing to work on changing the heart.

Your child may be ready to change without knowing what the right thing is to do next time. Remember, we're looking for heart level changes. Once your child has had a change of heart, then you can help your child learn what was wrong and what he or she can do differently next time.

Remember, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7) Teaching children to change their hearts is a valuable lesson that they will benefit from for the rest of their lives.

What are some ways you've been able to help your child understand heart change?

Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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  1. Changing of hearts might be particularly hard for single
    parents as many of us have to work on changing our hearts.
    This is especially true if you are just coming out of a divorce.
    Or if you lost your spouse through a sudden death.

    Parents can be the role model for the child. Follow the steps outlined by Joanne for your child. Acknowledge to your child when your heart has been hardened.

    You may find you need to take a break at times too. That's okay. You will be modeling a great tool for your children. Just don't
    give up.

  2. Just as an interesting fact about little children's conscience. My 3.5 year old girl when in the middle of a fit with no reason, sometimes cries "I don't know what's wrong with me, mommy help me", I answered "it is the sin in you heart, that's wrong with you, but Jesus is in your heart, too. You have to choose who do you listen to: sin or Jesus." This thought remained in her little brain and time to time brings her sorrow when she is in a terrible fit. She is crying "I don't want to be like this, I want to be like Jesus!" Isn't it ammazing? love, agi