How Do You Reach A Child’s Heart?

So much of parental life is consumed with meeting temporal needs. Endless piles of laundry, shuttling children to and from activities, cooking meals, you know the drill. Not to mention adding in the amount of time, energy and effort expended in trying to get children to DO things they really could care less about or to get them to STOP doing things they are perfectly content with. Perhaps you’re ready to blow a gasket because you’ve told your pre-teen boy for the millionth time that he needs to shower daily. And you can’t recall how many times you’ve told your toddler not to jump on the furniture. While requests for showering and not jumping on furniture are reasonable, they do not serve as an investment in connecting with the hearts of our children.


The job of parenting finds us doing many seemingly important things for our children. But we want to be cautious to not miss out on the needed thing. Just as Jesus affirmed that Mary had chosen the better part, let us choose the better part and that is connecting with the hearts of our children.


Shuttling kids to soccer practice, hurrying up to get them to choir rehearsal, and rushing them off to bed, may be required at times but can have a way of choking out meaningful interaction. So how do we connect with our children when most of our daily interactions are moving them through to the next activity? We’ve got to be PURPOSEFUL!


Nobel Peace Prize recipient and novelist, Toni Morrison appeared on an episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass. On the show, the prolific author dispensed this wisdom,

“It’s interesting to see when a kid walks into the room… does your

face light up? That’s what they’re looking for…when my children used

to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if

they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or their

socks were up…so you think your affection and your deep love is on

display cause you’re caring for them, it’s not. When they see you they

see the critical face…what’s wrong now? …But then if you let your face

speak what’s in your heart. Because when they walked in the room I was

glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see.”


She so eloquently illustrated the difference between meeting temporal needs and maximizing on the opportunity to connect with the heart. Oprah went on to say that one of her biggest learning lessons of the early 90’s was that the common denominator in the human experience is that everyone wants to be appreciated or validated. Given that, what are we teaching our children by spending so much energy on things that may not matter in five years, much less ten? How many moments will we have missed? How many hugs would not have been shared? How many smiles would have been deterred?


Will our children feel connected, loved, if the words we dispense are focused on what they haven’t done right, what they aren’t doing or what they’ve done wrong?

“You haven’t…”

“You aren’t”

“When will you ever…”

“You can’t…”

“You won’t…”




Yup, I’ve said them all too but I’m learning to do better. It requires reframing the dialogue. “Well what CAN I do then?” That’s what their hearts want to know. Purpose to fill their hearts with what they CAN do. Let us connect in ways they can perceive and receive. Research Professor, Dr. Brene Brown says, “We are hardwired to connect with others, is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” Will you help minimize suffering by proactively connecting with the hearts of your children?


We connect with children by being adults who are vulnerable, humble and gentle.


We reach them through open communication, connectedness, inviting them, listening with the heart, knowing them and encouraging them.


Let’s pray!


Eternal one and lover of my soul, thank you for always extending yourself and seeking to connect with my heart. I pray that you will open the eyes of my heart so that I will be available to my children. Enable me to connect with their hearts through purposeful interactions. May I present myself gentle, humble and vulnerable so that they feel I am approachable. May I keep my eyes and ears open so that I can learn who they are and know them deeply. May my words be filled with grace. May I be intentional in maximizing upon opportunities to communicate with them. Knit me closer to my children now and evermore.


For the practical steps on how to reach them, order a copy of my new book PURPOSEFUL PARENTING, available now on Amazon.


As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!


Happy to connect with these friends sharing the Good News Mommy Moments, Purposeful Faith, Chasing Community, Grace & Truth

8 replies
  1. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    It’s the most exhausting job—parenting. And, although cliche — the most rewarding. Putting in the time and forming relationships is legacy-building. I didn’t have that in my life, and I’ve tried so hard to be intentional about it for my children, and their children… I’ve sure not gotten it right all the time, but thank heavens the Lord fills the gaps where I fail. Thanks for sharing, Tyra. Hope you have a wonderful summer. 🙂 ((hug))

  2. KellyRBaker
    KellyRBaker says:

    I love this! And it’s just what I needed to hear. We have four kids, preteen down to toddler and I noticed that when people see the baby (the toddler), they light up. It’s not the same for the older kids. I tried greeting the older kids the same as the baby and it was great. But I forgot all about it. Thanks for the reminder today.

  3. Ruth
    Ruth says:

    This rang true for me this morning and again this evening, that our children want our faces to light up when the enter the room but that we too often confront them with what they have failed at and forget to tell them how much we value them.
    And as for the shuttling kids to various places, remembering Deuteronomy 6:7 and learning how to obey it would help; “as you walk along the way” was how they traveled from one place to another before cars and minivans.

    • Tyra Lane-Kingsland
      Tyra Lane-Kingsland says:

      I too am consistently given the opportunity for my face to alight as I’ve got a team of 6 children. It is my prayer that by the power of the Holy Spirit we will be attuned, aware and lovingly responsive when interacting with them. Blessings to you as you seek to parent with purpose.

  4. Mrs. Marlon
    Mrs. Marlon says:

    Ohhhh Tyra, I am so guilty of the above. And thou the LORD has brought this to my attention I am STILL a work in progress. Sometimes, I can come straight out of worship and have a critical tone and/or look with my children…smh! BUT, I THANK GOD for HIS brand new mercies, that are new EVERY morning! I THANK GOD for your post and your prayer! Annnnd I THANK GOD for YOUR BOOK!

    • Tyra Lane-Kingsland
      Tyra Lane-Kingsland says:

      Isn’t it reassuring that there in NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? Grace friend GRACE! Day by day He is teaching us as we seek to sow seed of love into fertile hearts. The Lord knows your desire to parent with purpose and He’s equipping you along the way.


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