He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9


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Book Review: Shepherding a Child's Heart

Wow. This is now one of those books that I consider a "staple" in our library. It has sharpened my vision, tested my heart, and encouraged my passion for leading our children towards having a heart of passion for God. It helped me to gently evaluate our parenting over the last 6 years and I believe has strengthened me for the next 6 years.

I've already told my family: this is a book you must read before your first kid is one year old!

I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this.

It left my eyes and ears open for ways to apply the philosophy and principles in a minute to minute way.

Another thing it got me to thinking about: I interpreted him as coming across pretty strong against positive reinforcement systems as a means of discipline. I firmly agree that "If you obey Mommy I'll give you a sucker" is not acceptable. However, I still stick to my belief that there is an effective place for positive reinforcement plans in the home. Sticker charts, behavior games, goal setting. I think all of this helps to make the training process more effective. For instance, with our oldest in particular, playing habit games help to keep her mind on the daily work of forming good habits. All of our kids are required to clear their plate from the table after being excused from a meal. When Kayla was younger, she had an irritating habit of dropping her fork multiple times during meals. So we decided if she could go a whole meal without dropping her fork, I'd clear her plate for her. It worked beautifully, and kept her more vigilant in her habit forming. That habit solved, we moved on to the habit of her dressing herself in the morning without being reminded. And so forth. It's exciting when we get to switch habits after one is mastered. And it's amazing how such a small thing could motivate her. We also periodically use other methods of motivation like sticker charts and the like for chores. But I happily embrace Dr. Dobson's idea that these are most effective when switched regularly to keep them fresh. (That way I don't feel guilty when one method fizzles and we move on to another.)

Again, I am not talking about bribery towards obedience. But I believe in positive reinforcement and I think God does too. Heaven is positive reinforcement. A paycheck at the end of the week is positive reinforcement, etc. I am not necessarily saying that Tripp disagrees with this thought, but it is something I had to clarify for myself as I read and processed his ideas on the matter.

This book has helped me to improve in my thinking and in the practical, everyday ministry of communication with our children. It has reminded me of the rich relationships that develop from communication. It has encouraged me to help our kids to understand what is pouring from their hearts. It has helped me to refine the discipline process and given me that much-needed kick in the sitter that quality books like these always provide.

If you're a parent and haven't read it, you should!

Shepherd Press Resources

Buy it at Amazon.com
jenny said...

I read this with a group of moms in our hometown a couple years ago. I thought it was the best presentation (and defense) of corporal punishment I had ever read. It brought out VERY intersting discussions from other moms coming from very different perspectives.

Hmmm...I will have to go reread him on positive consequences...don't remember that part. I agree with you wholeheartedly that these do work. And I loved the tip from Dr. D...that is indeed a freeing little nugget.

The main helpful thought that stayed with me after reading this is that we need to be more concerned about our influence on the spiritual nuture of our children's hearts....than we are on churning out perfectly behaved children so it relects well on us. The prior is putting God first in our parenting, the latter is putting ourselves first.

Mary Ellen said...

When we had our first child we read and really liked the Ezzo books (I know some people hate them, but we liked a whole lot of what they had to say and it's worked for us) BUT as with their ideas and all other books I/we've read on parenting I always try to keep in mind that I am NOT reading the Bible. Whether it was that book or any others, I try to take what I think will work for me/us and apply it - some things we love, some things we just know aren't for us, etc.

I think pretty much every book written on parenting is written by people who have their ideas based on their own children and their personalities - it's not a cookie cutter kind of thing. So if sticker charts work for you and you know they are working I don't think you should let someone who writes a great book on parenting but is anti-sticker chart bother you - no one parenting style is going to work for every child and every parent, good for you for not only realizing that but pointing it out to your readers. Helps me to keep remembering that too.

David and Sarah Fry said...

Mary Ellen - I SO agree with you about keeping authors in perspective. The books David and I have read have literally helped to shape and defined us as parents. But it took me awhile to get used to reading with a sifter in one hand. I had to realize emotionally that it is okay to learn from a book and sift out the parts that don't fit us.

I found this especially true with authors like the Ezzos and Pearls. These were shaping books for me, but I found that I had to temper and sift as I read.

The personality and background of the reader has so much to do with it, I think. It was easy, especially as a young first time mom, to feel guilty if the prescribed system didn't click for us. I have since then settled into my own rhythm and gained the confidence to live and learn....

Robyn Huff said...

Thanks for the book review...sounds interesting, and I look forward to reading it now!

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