Ch. 16 – Childhood: Training Objectives – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)

Shepherding A Child's HeartIn this installment of our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart,” we will look at Chapter 16 – Childhood: Training Objectives.”

Tripp defines childhood as the middle period of a child’s life from ages five to twelve.  During this period of their life, a child is developing more of a sense of independence regarding their choices and their personality.  With the beginning of school and other activities, the children find themselves spending more and more time away from the direct supervision of their parents.  They are confronted with situations their parents do not witness or control.

For this section of the book, Tripp assumes that you have, as a parent, already taught your child the lessons of stage one.  Your child sees himself as a creature made by God who lives for God and understands what it means to submit to authority.  That said, the big issue for this second stage of a child’s development during the Childhood years is character.  Tripp offers the following partial list of charater traits we would like to see our kids develop:

  • Dependability
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Consideration
  • Helpfulness
  • Diligence
  • Loyalty
  • Humility
  • Self-Control
  • Moral Purity

The goal of the first stage was to deal with defiant behavior.  In this stage, you are dealing with behavior that is wrong even though it might not be defiant.  Tripp states, “if you never address character, you will never get beyond bare obedience.”

Tripp quickly addresses one mistake that parents commonly make.  In order to deal with character failures on the part of their kids, they make more and more rules.  Tripp sums it up the fallacy of dealing with the problem with rules is that, “the adult mind is not clever enough to make rules the child’s mind cannot circumvent.  More rules won’t work!”

In order to assess character issues, Tripp suggests that you make the following diagnostic of each child every six months or so:

1. What is the nature of your child’s relationship to God?

Some of the questions Tripp suggests in determining this include:

  • Does your child recognize his need for God?
  • Does he want to know and love God?
  • Does he go to God to provide him strength, comfort and help?
  • Is there any indication that your child is carrying on an independent relationship with God?
  • Are there things other than God which seem to motivate him?
  • Does he talk about God?
  • What does he think about God?
  • Is God big or small?
  • Is God a friend, helper, or the great taskmaster in the sky?
  • Does he see himself in Christ?

2. What does the child think of himself?

Here are some of the questions Tripp suggests for this assessment:

  • How does you child think about himself?
  • How well does he understand himself?
  • How well does he understand his personality?
  • Is he self conscience of how his personality would lead him?
  • Does he understand his strengths and weaknesses?
  • Is he content with himself?
  • What do his actions say about his attitude about himself?
  • Is he shy or confident?
  • Is he fearful?
  • Does he help others?
  • Can he stick to a task?
  • Can he work by himself?

3. How are your child’s relationships with others?

Tripp offers the following questions for consideration:

  • How does your child interact with others?
  • What traits does he bring out in other people?
  • In his relationships, is he always the one in control or always the one being controlled?
  • Does he fawn for the attention of others?
  • Is he good with kids his own age?
  • How does he deal with it when people disappoint him?
  • How does he respond when people sin against him?
  • What are his relational strengths and weaknesses?

Tripp suggests that parents sit down together twice a year and list all of their concerns and things they are pleased about for each child under each category as well as those things that are pleasing for each category.  Then you must develop a strategy for dealing with your concerns.

Personal Observation

From my own experience, I can tell you that volumes and volumes of rules do not work.  Our oldest child, who is now almost 16, has been quite a handful at times.  As a result of that, and a lack of proper biblical grounding, we have at times ended up with volumes and volumes of rules.  Here is what I, in my own experience have discovered about rules that makes them ineffective:

  • They are hard to keep track of.
  • Kids will always have an excuse for not following them.
  • They will forget them.
  • You will forget them.
  • It’s hard to continue to come up with consequences for violations.
  • It’s hard to keep track of the consequences.
  • Kids will pretend you never made that rule.
  • They will find the loophole (you said not to make fun of my sister, it’s not making fun if it’s true).

Trust me when I tell you that rule upon rule upon rule will not solve the problems and will only serve to wear you out as a parent.

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