Misbehavior as Discipleship Opportunities | Cornerstones for Parents

A number of years ago, I wrote a series of posts about a conceptual model of childhood behavior that was put forth by psychologists, Dinkmeyer and McKay. This model is a wonderful resource for parents because it encourages them to look beneath the surface and really investigate why the child is behaving the way he or she is. This model conceptualizes misbehavior as motivated by attention, control, revenge and inadequacy. Misbehavior is often much more complex than that, but it provides a good starting point. As Christian parents, we can take this model one step further and use misbehavior as discipleship opportunities.

Keep in mind that the time to address these behaviors is not in the heat of the moment, but rather when our children’s hearts are soft and receptive to the work of the Spirit. We can approach these moments of behavioral discipleship with curiosity and compassion rather than condemnation and harshness.

Let’s look at each type of behavior in turn, exploring some relevant Scriptures and concrete interventions. But first we need to set the stage. Here’s a possible script to introduce these discipleship moments:

“Hey honey, do you have a minute to talk? I have noticed lately that you seem to be struggle with ___________. I’ve noticed it particularly when _________ (give an example). I think it’s important for us to talk about this because it’s an area I would like to help you with. I know when I struggle with stuff like that, I need help from other people. You’re not in trouble and I am not mad. Come on, let’s grab a snack and have a chat.”

When you sit down with your child, you can explain that the Bible is your “instruction manual” (related it to them by pointing out a toy that has instructions). As your instruction manual, it has a lot of help for the areas that we all battle. You want to be clear that you are both a teacher and a fellow struggler in this discussion. You have some guidance, but you don’t get it perfect every time either. That’s where God’s grace steps in.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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