How to Get to Your Child’s Heart

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Do you want to get to your child’s heart but struggle connecting with him?

Perhaps you have a difficult teen you can not reach. Some of this is completely normal. Kids are going to test the boundaries and reject your rules from time to time. But what about the other part? The emotional disconnect you might be feeling between you and your child.

What if I told you there is a way to get to your child’s heart? Good teachers and coaches know how to do it.  They know how to get kids engaged in their subject or sport and motivate them to move heaven and earth.

What is so wonderful is you can learn how to do it even better than a teacher or coach.

In this post, I will give you the keys to reaching the heart of your child. You are going to learn how to connect with your child by building a relationship on three different levels.

It doesn’t come fast, but over time you will see breakthroughs. In a year’s time, you will look back and see how your relationship has changed.

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Boy with glasses jumping out behind a door putting his hand out.

How to Get to Your Child’s Heart

The way to get to your child’s heart is through a relationship. If you study a good teacher or coach, you will see anyone worth his salt has a great connection with his kids. And the connection runs deep.

There is love, respect, and trust built that is unshakable. Why? It is because the teacher (or coach) has spent time learning what makes his kids tick. And then he encourages them a lot once he knows what it is.

Taking time to know them personally is what drives them to do all sorts of things they wouldn’t otherwise begin to try.

If a teacher or coach, who spends a small portion of the day with your child, can make him come alive, think about what you can do as a parent if you really put some thought into it.

You have the ability to make an incredible impact on your child if you will take the time to make a connection. And reinforce with lots of praise.

You might be tempted to believe spending more time at Chuck E. Cheese or some other place is how you do it, but a real connection runs way deeper.

There are three levels of connection: kid fun, family fun, and other-oriented fun. It is important to hit all three levels for a solid relationship.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart-

Purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

Kid Fun

“Kid fun” is the lowest level of connection to get to your child’s heart. When your child picks out an activity, it is usually all about him. These activities are child-centered.

Some of these activities may include your child’s sport, favorite place to eat, a movie he wants to see, or any other activity he wants to do.

Whatever your child loves to do, it is important to spend time doing it with him when you can. There are sure to be some great memories of dad jumping in the ball pit, mom getting sick on the roller coaster or some awesome plays made on the field.

The problem is parents stop at the first level. They think this is all there is to build a relationship with their child. And then they are confused when the relationship falls apart even though they have spent all this time and money with nothing to show for it.

They have given everything to their child and can’t understand why it wasn’t enough.

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How to discipline a difficult child pinFamily Fun

Family fun is the second level to get to your child’s heart. You are building on what your child likes and adding another dimension-others. It is not kid-centered, it is family-centered.

It is about the family doing things together that are fun (and important) as a unit.  Don’t forget to praise your kids when they participate with the family. Catch them doing things right. Here are some suggestions:

Eat Together

Sit down together for dinner most nights. Give time for each person in the family to talk. And never discipline at the table other than an occasional reminder of table manners. If you do, it will cut off the communication.

If you will create a non-threatening environment filled with encouragement, your child will feel safe to open up. You will learn things at the table you would never learn anywhere else.

Devotional and Prayer

Read a devotional that focuses on character. I found kid’s devotionals that told stories. They are much more interesting and relatable than facts. Ask a few questions at the end of the story so you can get feedback.

This is a great way to indirectly work on that “lying issue” or whatever else your child struggles with at the time.

Pray together daily at mealtime and bedtime. This is a fantastic way to start teaching empathy. Talk about those who are sick, missionaries, family members hurting, etc.

Let your child pray out loud for these people.

Related: The Best Way to Change Your Teen Through Prayer

Holidays/Traditions

Traditions are a wonderful way to get to your child’s heart and build a strong relationship. Some suggestions are baking cookies together, decorating the Christmas tree, cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, Easter egg hunt, Father’s Day shopping, etc

Some of the best traditions happen organically. Perhaps, something only your family does together. One Christmas, when my kids were little, my husband tossed the pancakes from the stove to the table.  It was a long way. Some landed on the floor!

The kids loved it. We have done it every year since then. It’s our tradition.

Related: 33 Ways to Bring Your Family Together at the Holidays

Family Vacation

A family vacation is another way to get to your child’s heart. We have had some really great trips to wonderful places, but camping has been the most rewarding. Yes, camping. Go figure. It was especially nice because there were no cell phones to interrupt the time together

I am not the greatest camper. Everyone has laughed at my dumb mistakes like hooking my fishing line on a chair, running from a rubber snake and burning the food.

I have given the family plenty of stories to tell for years.

Related: How to Create Family Memories with a Crazy Schedule

Church

Going to church together every week is an important way to get to your child’s heart. It will help your family grow spiritually. You can talk about what your kids learned at Sunday School afterward. If your kids are older, you can discuss the sermon.

We usually went out to lunch together after church so we could spend the time talking and catching up from the weekend. It was a natural way for us to spend time together.

My kids still enjoy doing this with us as when they are in town.

Related: Have You Become the Church Lady? 8 Ways We Judge Others

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Boy dressed up in a superhero costume with text overlay at top.

Deadtime

I have found dead time to be the most rewarding time with my kids. The time in the car going to school, driving to church, making dinner, laying in bed talking, or time in the car on a long road trip provided us with a way to let down and be real.

Because dead time is usually not filled with stress, it is easier to talk. Some days there may not be a lot said, other days it may be like a water hose.

The trick is to be available to talk when your child needs you. It is a great time to encourage your child and his gifts.

Other-Centered Fun

The best way to get to your child’s heart is through the third and highest level which is other-centered fun.

Most parents don’t do these types of activities because it takes time, planning, money, and an unselfish heart. And it is a struggle to get your kids to see the importance.

The earlier you start your kids, the easier it is to do these activities together. Expect some attitude from your kids. It’s normal. Just keep going on with your plans.

It may be years later before you see the impact, but I promise, you are doing some of the most important things as a family when you have other-oriented fun. Here are a few suggestions:

Volunteer

Find a place to volunteer together. Don’t just drop your kids off. Stay. Most schools require a certain number of volunteer hours. Use the summer or holidays to do it together.

You will have something to talk about as a family. There will be bonding over what you experienced, and how you made a difference.

We have volunteered at a women’s shelter, and we have served meals to the homeless. There is real gratification knowing your family made a difference for someone that day. This definitely got to their heart.

Mission Trip

For years my family has gone on a mission trip together in the summer.

Both of my kids say this was the best thing we did as parents. It was life-changing for our whole family. If you can’t go, send your kids on a trip. You won’t be sorry.

It was rewarding to see the satisfaction in my children’s eyes after a hard day’s work. They knew they were directly impacting other people and helping them make a better life for themselves.

You may find your children are not excited at first, but keep working with them. They will come along in time if you stick with it.

I can’t tell you how many times my kid’s behavior changed after a mission trip. God worked on their heart in a way I never could.

Related: Mission Trip: How Bad is it at the Texas-Mexico Border?

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How to Get to Your Child's HeartGive to Others

You will get to your child’s heart by focusing on other’s needs. Find a reputable organization at Christmas time and shop for the gifts together as a family.

The kids could even donate a couple of dollars towards the gift. I highly recommend Samaritan’s Purse or Angel Tree.

If you don’t want to do that, find something in your community you can do as a family to give back. It can be something as simple as finding a family in need and shopping for them together. Or help an older woman with her lawn or house repairs.

Another idea is to have your children donate things they are not using. Most kids have more toys and books than they need. Have them go through their stuff and take it together to a Goodwill or a Salvation Army drop off location.

My kids liked doing a lemonade stand in the summer. Have them donate a few of those dollars to someone in need. Teach tithe and offerings with their earned money.

Last Thoughts

I have talked about the three levels of building a relationship with your child: kid fun, family fun, and others-oriented fun. Over time, you will see your child listening to you more and actually caring about what you say when you parent out of a relationship.

When you get to your child’s heart, you will have a real opportunity to encourage your child to do great things.  He will want to do what is right because he doesn’t want to disappoint you or break the trust you have developed.

This isn’t foolproof. Your child will probably still have a few mishaps. But a strong relationship will help you weather the teens years and come out better when you get to the other side

Remember this: Rules without relationship equals rebellion.

How to do you get to your child’s heart?

Book on Family Estrangement from a Christian Point of View

Are you experiencing family problems? Perhaps you and a loved one are no longer speaking. Don’t go another day without reading this book. It addresses family problems and estrangement from a biblical point of view. Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart is on Amazon or in your favorite digital store. 

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

Get Creating Family Memories for FREE in exchange for your email. If you get this book, it will help you build a good relationship with your kids so that when the hard times come (teen years), you will be able to weather the storm.

Scroll down or look to the side to sign up. You can also get it at your favorite digital bookstore.

Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Parenting and Family. This is a place for moms with preschool age kids or older to talk about their struggles with parenting, family life, education, or marriage. You will find biblically based advise from other moms who want to raise godly kids

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Julie Plagens

21 Comments

  1. […] Julie of Mom Remade wrote: I am a teacher and mom. The way to get to your child’s heart is through a relationship. Taking time to know them personally is what drives them to do all sorts of things they wouldn’t otherwise begin to try. There is love, respect, and trust built that is unshakable. Continue reading. […]

  2. Sara Ross on January 17, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    I love this! I am a mom to 3 kiddos and struggle with the relationship with my oldest. I love how you have broken down the different areas. My husband and I definitely need to work more on our relationship with the kids.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      Sara, I hope this information will help you with the relationship with your oldest. It is important to get to your child’s heart as soon as possible. It will help you diffuse problems if there is a relationship at the foundation.

  3. Judy on January 16, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    This is great! It’s so important to spend time with your kids and also to teach them about God and love and how important they are. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      Judy, yes, it is important to get to your child’s heart and build a relationship with him. A relationship with your child is the foundation for good parenting. Thanks for reading.

  4. Diane@worthbeyondrubies on January 16, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Great post! I especially love doing the activities they choose. Of course in my house it is usually some sort of craft! I have a craft room and so they will usually want to make t-shirts or tumblers and my 16 year old just started learning to sew. We have the best conversations and they are learning as well. They enjoy it so much!

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      Diane, doing things together like a craft is so great for casual conversation. What a great thing you have done. This is a sure way to get to your child’s heart through a relationship. You won’t be sorry you took time out to be with them.

  5. Anne-onedeterminedlife on January 15, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    The best advice I was given about car time was: when you are driving your kids and friends around, turn the radio off and just listen. Don’t respond– just listen. It’s amazing what you learn about your kids when you do that

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      Yes! I did this. I learned a whole lot. It is amazing what kids will say. My daughter caught on so she would start texting her friends while in the car! Ha ha. She was smart.

  6. Jodie on January 15, 2019 at 8:01 am

    I never thought of teacher and coaches learning my child’s learning style but it’s so true! Thank you for these tips. We’re working on dinner times right now and I really want to start devotional times, too.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 7:20 pm

      Yes! I did this. I learned a whole lot. It is amazing what kids will say. My daughter caught on so she would start texting her friends while in the car! Haha. She was smart.

  7. Danielle Jones on January 15, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Love this. I think the busyness of life makes us forget how to be close with our children sometimes. Great info. Thanks for sharing

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 7:29 pm

      Danielle, it is easy to get busy with life and forget that we have precious children who need us to spend time with them. I wrote this post because I know how fast life goes. It is important to get to your child’s heart and help him to see that love is about a relationship. Rules are important but the foundation needs to be in place to make the rules worth keeping.

  8. Yaa Attobrah on January 15, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Thank you for sharing these great ideas. Wish I had these when my kids were younger. I have been consistent still in the area of going to church, so lots of time to connect. We also have our goofy time at home of sharing. Bless your heart.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 7:32 pm

      Sounds like you did a great job with your kids. You figured out how to spend good time with them and instill values and morals too. Thanks for reading.

  9. Rachel on January 14, 2019 at 9:33 am

    I love how you broke this down. Dead time is a great time to talk with kids that often gets overlooked. I love talking then because we are both in a place where we can’t leave and do something else. I love that you mentioned that. Dinner is important here. My husband isn’t always home. Dinner time is important. We try to talk about each of our days and what happened. Thank you Rachel from Explore Kid Talk

    • Julie Plagens on January 14, 2019 at 7:37 pm

      Rachel, I am so glad you practice these tips. I think a lot of these are common sense. We have just gotten so busy we have forgotten these family habits. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Edith on January 13, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    I love this post being a teacher and all. You’re right about having a relationship. We need to invest more in people if we want to have greater impact in their lives, whether they are our kids, students or any others that God has placed within our circle of influence.More blessings on your ministry in Jesus’ name.

    • Julie Plagens on January 13, 2019 at 10:09 pm

      I am so glad you validate this strategy. It is always nice to have another teacher weigh in when I write posts about education. I know there are so many ways to reach a child, but it all comes back to a relationship. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Amy on January 13, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    These are wonderful ideas and have given me a lot to think about! I’m a homeschool Mama of 3 and although I’m with them ALL the time, sometimes I struggle to connect with them. Thank you for sharing!

    • Julie Plagens on January 13, 2019 at 10:13 pm

      I homeschooled for a while. It was tough. You are so busy just trying to get the lessons done and everything else that connection sometimes seems moot since they are with you all day. Perhaps just stepping away and going to get ice cream or something is enough to have some downtime to talk. Many blessings on you for your huge sacrifice.

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