[MyBrownBaby] Start With the Heart: How To Teach Children To Do the Right Thing



Seems like lately, in my MyBrownBaby Faith and Motherhood column, I’ve been talking a lot about issues related to my daughter’s behavior. Everything from sneakiness to her being extra-friendly to strangers. Specifically, I’ve been writing about how I interpret the things she says and does and how her actions often shine a light on my own issues.

All of this got me wondering about where good vs. bad behavior begins in a child. How does my child come to define what’s good and bad beyond what I teach her? Does it just derive from the consequences of her actions? A simple ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ garners her a high five and = Good. Standing on my couch and diving headfirst onto the floor gets her disciplined and = Bad. If that’s the case, then are we saying my child is no different than Fido, the dog or Chloe, the cat?

Gosh, I hope not.

As a mother, I do the best I can to provide my daughter with all the tools she needs to make the best choices for her life. Some of that are faith-based lessons and others are more practical. At two, it may really mean I will have a reward/consequence response to her behavior. But I can’t help but to keep asking myself this: If I continue, as she grows older, to just reward good and bad behavior and create this kind of Pavlov-ish response in my child, am I missing the opportunity to develop the most important parts of her being?

Her Heart. Her character.

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