Mind, Will and Emotion in Discipline

Have you ever wondered why your approach to discipline doesn't seem to be "working"? Oftentimes it's a matter of consistency, but it could also be that your discipline is missing something; perhaps it's not truly connecting to your child's heart.




A biblical picture of the heart includes a child’s mind, will, and emotions. In our role as parents, we are charged with training our children in all three of these areas so that they will grow up to be committed to Christ. Anytime your children have a problem or issue, it is going to fall into one or more of these three categories.

If we learn to look at each situation in this way, we will be able to apply the proper method for training them that takes that particular area into account. If we appeal to their emotions when their thinking is confused, we will not make much headway. They may be feeling just fine while they are consumed by selfish thoughts!

1.  The first area, the mind, deals with what they know or do not know. Sometimes children misbehave because they do not understand the right way. So if that is the issue, then we deal with their mind and teach them what they need to understand.

HEART ASPECT:                             AREA NEEDING GROWTH:              REPLACE WITH:
MIND, INTELLECT                                   IGNORANCE                                   TEACHING

Training our children in the area of the mind means we are replacing ignorance or lack of knowledge with truthful teaching. 

2.  The next area, the will deals with their choice to obey or rebel. It means that they know what they should do and are doing it, or they know what they should do but they will not do it.

HEART ASPECT:                             AREA NEEDING GROWTH:              REPLACE WITH:
    WILL                                                    REBELLION                                      DISCIPLINE

Training our children in the area of the will means that we are replacing rebellion and self-centeredness with discipline and correction. (This would also include attitude.)

Training the will involves a process of ongoing admonition, exhortation, and teachable moments – following up on their willful actions with correction and discipline where appropriate. Although character qualities, such as procrastination, are not addressed (for the most part) by physical discipline, character weaknesses can become willful and then require discipline.

3.  The last area, emotion, deals with how they are handling a situation. They know what to do but they are discouraged or fearful. Their emotions can make them question what they know they should do in a situation.

HEART ASPECT:                   AREA NEEDING GROWTH:                          REPLACE WITH:
    EMOTION                          DISCOURAGEMENT, FEAR                ENCOURAGEMENT, COURAGE

In this area we are replacing discouragement with encouragement. This child needs to have his heart refocused to trust in the Lord. Discipline would only further dishearten the child.

As you can see, we cannot ignore mind, will, and emotion in our daily interactions with our children.  Basing our responses and actions on their “heart” status will immediately make a difference in how we train and discipline our children.

(excerpt from Entrusted with a Child’s Heart, Lesson: Committed to Discipline.)

For more thoughts on discipline, see Dear Betsy, How Should I Discipline? 

Posted on April 6, 2016 and filed under Building Your Family.