Your child’s stiff neck reveals the true condition of his heart.  Don’t let this stubborn sign just pass you by. It’s a glaring sign that practically screams DEAL WITH ME…and deal with me thoroughly until my heart is brought back unto submission. The outward evidence of the restored heart will include a gentle facial expression, softer neck and relaxed shoulders.


Dealing properly with your child will result in a restored relationshipwith God, with you, and with whomever any battle of the will took place.

Let’s take a look at a real life potential situation for sin – uh, at least in my home… and how the Bible has answers to help us deal with the heart through this PUT OFF/PUT ON process that I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post. This is part five in a series on stiff necks and unyielded, rebellious hearts.


Practical Example of Dealing with the Heart in Your Child

Your son DJ was happily watching TV and his sister KT wanted to watch a different show. KT changed the channel to what she wanted. This infuriated DJ, and he threw the remote at KT.   If you were to take a look at your kids’ nonverbal clues, you’d see that they are both showing their stubborn hearts – maybe one has arms folded, like “It’s not my fault.She made me do it.” And maybe the other one has her neck so tense because she is mad that he would have the nerve to throw something at her.

Who is wrong in this situation?  Notice, I didn’t even tell you if the remote hit her or not, because no matter, you need to deal with the HEART.

Discipline is for restoration.

According to God’s Word, they are BOTH wrong.  Therefore, both children…actually, both children’s hearts need to be dealt with in order to bring about restoration. Remember the purpose of discipline is restoration. This does mean the way in which you address the parties needs to be respectful, direct, and calm. If you’re yelling and out of control, you actually need to examine your own heart just like you’re doing with them…because the situation only reveals what is in your heart. No one made you yell or made you mad. You need self-control yourself. (Remember, we’re all growing, so work on this right alongside you expecting them to change.)

It’s exhausting to parent to the heart.

After all, when you’re home with the kids you see their sins over and over and over. The blessing, as I see it, is that you get to deal with their hearts over and over and over. Try to look at it like a blessing to have opportunity to see their ugly hearts and deal with them, continually bringing about restoration. (Did you just roll your eyes at me? LOL). Keep up this exhausting practice and you’ll have a peaceful home. You’ll still have sinners, but your pattern will be restoration, a peaceful home, and a home where hearts are safe with each other.  You know what else…you may have never heard this before…you’ll reap the fruit later and you’ll have teenagers who are respectful and ones whom you enjoy!

Here’s how I might handle this situation.

First, Stop the World.

TV goes off. “Stop the World” means that you are stopping the activities at hand to place more importance on the priorities you have. In this case, the priority is dealing with the heart of your kids and bringing about restoration. The way I look at it, if my kid can’t handle watching TV (or playing a video game) without having self-control when he gets interrupted or his plans are altered, he lacks the self control for him to be given that privilege.  He also has shown that his treasure is in a “thing” and that he values that over people (his sister). Now, I don’t need to yell, or belittle…that provokes anger. But, I DO need to talk with him respectfully and calmly in private to help guide him as part of the discipline process. Train ahead to your kids this concept of “Stop the World.” After you live this out several times, meaning that you stop cooking, that you stop your phone call, that you stop reading your book, that you STOP THE WORLD to put aside your agenda to deal with the main priority, they’ll soon get that you mean business about treating each other with respect in your home.

Look deeper to the root of the problem.

DJ’s action of throwing the remote showed many things: lack of self-control, temper/anger, and this reveals that the TV (or a specific show) has power over him and therefore he values things over people, is unable to listen to his sister’s input and respond with kindness or consider her request greater than his own. He also showed selfishness.  He wanted HIS way and when he didn’t get it, he was violent. He was disrespectful of his sister. And, he should NEVER throw anything or think that violence is in any way acceptable.

KT’s action of changing the channel when her brother was engaged in a TV show was also selfish. She wanted her way. She didn’t communicate well and didn’t allow his opinion to be shared. She may have even thought the show he was watching was a “bad” show (and maybe she was right in this thought) but still, her method of communication was forceful, bullying, selfish, and demanding.  Look for patterns. Does she manipulate to get her way? Is she provoking? Does she disregard the importance of others and expect to get her way all the time? All of this boils down to a self-centered, selfish heart.

So, both are wrong.

You COULD just tell DJ, “Stop throwing the remote. You could hurt someone.” And, then think the issue is solved, glad that it didn’t actually hit her.  What? So anger is okay IF no one gets hurt?  Or to make sure when he has no self-control and a violent outburst to make sure his aim is good? What if the remote DID hit her and you yell and say “I can’t believe you hit her! Don’t hit a girl!” What has this taught him? To not throw. To not hit a girl. These are very good things, but you didn’t deal with the deeper issue…the wickedness of his heart that caused that.  Look for the deeper matter.  The root of his sin is selfishness which came out as anger in his lack of self-control.  There are so many verses that apply to anger. Look for what the verses say to put off and put on in its place.

You could also be tempted to let KT’s behavior slide since her brother practically killed her. (exaggerating, you understand). Don’t miss this! She is wrong. Deal with her heart separately too.

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NASB) “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.”

  • Put off: anger, bitterness, wrath, clamor, slander, malice
  • Put on: kindness, tender-heartedness, forgiveness
  • Deal with his selfishness and anger. Say to him, “I know she was wrong for what she did, and I’m going to deal with her privately like I am you. So, let’s focus on what YOU OWN in this. (Parents, what a beautiful thing you are teaching your kids…to OWN their own part of the problem. So many adults don’t know how to do this. Can I hear an AMEN. And, actually, please check your own heart. Do YOU own your part of the problem or is it always everyone else’s fault? Be honest. If you are not living out this practice, your hypocritical ways will turn your kids’ heart against you.)  Talk with him about putting off anger (wanting his way) and in its place putting on kindness and forgiveness. When you finish, his heart should be ready to apologize to his sister.
  • Deal with her selfishness. Say to her, “I know he was wrong for not hearing you out and considering your thoughts, but I’ve dealt with him already. Now, we are just going to focus on you and your heart. Bring out in your conversation with her the same thing that she was angry and it was shown in her being rude and demanding. She is to put off anger (when her brother didn’t change the channel for her) and put on kindness (waiting for him to respond, or simply watching his show with him.) When you finish with her, you will see a gentle neck and shoulders indicating her heart is right. She should be ready to apologize to her brother.

Tomorrow I’m going to share with you a specific way that I’ve learned how to talk through situations with my kids -asking specific questions – so that they OWN their sin. You don’t want to miss it!

Also, coming up I’m going to share an amaaaaazing way that I learned to apologize years ago that we still do today. It’s an important part of the discipline process. Stay tuned. (but my posts are way too long, so it will have to wait.)

I’m going to get super specific with you about this RESTORATION PROCESS. I’ll be sharing this tip that is like a big ol’ secret to checking the condition of your child’s heart.

What are you thinking so far about this stiff neck/rebellious heart stuff?

If you missed any in this series on “stiff necks and rebellious hearts,” you can click here.

Rhonda theaboveexampleactuallyhappened,butIcan’ttellyouwhichkidswereinvolved ellis

  1. Misti Green

    I just say praise The Lord-very grateful for this teaching and blog post. I have needed wisdom and I depend on God to help me. I am so grateful that HE sweetly places people in our lives that have walked the road we are on or facing to help us! The kids started in an argument today and I kidded my husband and said,”WWRD?” That stands for What Would Rhonda Do? He and I went in the living room together and addressed the problem, but we are learning to address the Heart and not just be a referee. We do want a peaceful home and hearts changed forever for God’s Glory!

    • Misti, how wonderful that you and your husband discuss discipline together and are on the same page, being intentional to address the heart of your children. Thanks for your encouraging words, and I’m also thankful for those that have been mentors in my life.

  2. Melissa Pyle

    Beautifully stated! These are such knee jerk situations, but I love how you have broken down what to do in each moment. This is great advice. It is very Dobsony (new word, but very high compliment to you, Rhonda). Thanks for letting the Lord use you, your life and your family to encourage and help train children.

    • Melissa, I am laughing. I actually spent five minutes googling dictionary sites to see what the word “Dobsony” means. Then it hit me. Dr. Dobson.. That IS a compliment. But alas, the very fact of me looking up that word means I’m nowhere near his caliber. LOL. Glad you find the content helpful. I appreciate your comment.

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