Are You Mentoring Beliefs or Managing Behaviors?

Are You Mentoring Beliefs or Managing Behaviors? June 8, 2024

Mentoring beliefs is heart work. | Photo by Kindel Media on

Parenting would be much more enjoyable if we didn’t have to manage our children’s behavior continually. Well, guess what! You don’t have to. You could spend your time mentoring your children’s beliefs in themselves and let them learn manage their own behavior. Doesn’t that sound more pleasant?

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Parenting Goals

Each day of parenting we face many choices. It is exhausting. But, we can decide whether to make intentional choices or not. 

When we are angry and triggered, our thinking brains aren’t working. This means we are not being intentional and are simply trying to survive the moment. This leads to only meeting our short-term goals. 

But, if we can calm down and regulate, we can get our thinking brains back online and make choices that will lead us to meeting our long-term parenting goals.

Managing our children’s behavior meets our short-term goals, but it doesn’t change their hearts or help them build a strong identity to allow them to learn the wisdom to manage their own behavior.

Screen Time Story

The timer goes off. Screen time is over, but your child is not finished. It’s been a long day and you are on your own screen on the couch. But, you ask them to turn off the screen and go outside. Your child starts whining. You have several options for how to handle it.

  1. Give in and allow them to continue using the screen.
  2. Threaten that if they don’t turn it off they won’t have screens for a month.
  3. Ignore the whining and take the screen.
  4. Engage with empathy, but hold the boundary.

While there are also other things you could do, these are probably the most typical responses. Throughout my parenting journey, I have done all of these options. 

In parenting, we can choose to be intentional and prioritize our long-term goals by mentoring our children’s beliefs and identity or we can prioritize our immediate comfort (emotional or physical) and manage their behavior. But, it is hard to do both.

What Does Mentoring Beliefs Mean?

This phrase mentoring beliefs and not managing behaviors is a concept that I got from Connected Families. As a Connected Families (CF) Certified Parent Coach, I am receiving special training to present the Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart Workshop for churches and other groups. This is one of the key points of that workshop.

Though I’ve heard it many times before, this time it struck me differently. Building identity in my girls and other children has been a recurring theme in my life the past few months. God has been showing me the importance of it and how haphazard we as parents can be with this calling.

Unpacking this idea of building our children’s beliefs and identity, we will see we move closer to our long-term goals and have better equipped our children to be followers of Jesus outside of our homes. 

Heart Work

If we are diligent at managing our children’s behaviors, we have become their wisdom, self-control, brain, and Holy Spirit. They will need us to continue managing their behaviors, which is no fun.

But, if we help our children believe that they are kind, brave, caring, wise, and capable of learning from their mistakes, and able to hear from the Holy Spirit, then they, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will manage their own behavior.

This means we can do less of the hard work and more heart work. It will take our own heart work to make this transition, too.

What Kind of a Sister Do You Want to Be?

A couple of months ago, one of my girls was having a hard time falling asleep. So she asked me to make up a story for her. 

I told her of a princess with lots of sisters. This sister was having a hard day and was struggling to be kind. None of her sisters wanted to play with her and she felt sad, on top of already having other big emotions. 

The princess went to her mommy yelling that no one would play with her. The mommy comforted her and asked if she was having a tough time handling all her big feelings. The princess said yes and that she was now sad, too.

The mommy asked her what kind of a sister she likes to play with. The princess answered a kind one. The mommy asked what kind of sister she was being and she said a mean one. Then the mommy asked one final question. What kind of a sister do you want to be? A kind one, the princess answered. 

My own little girl said, that’s me! I  asked then what kind of sister do you want to be? A kind one she answered.

Many times since, I have asked that same daughter when she is struggling with big emotions, what kind of a sister do you want to be. Each time she answers a kind one. 

It may take her a few moments to regulate and make things right, but it continues to flip a little switch reminding her who she is and who she wants to be. A kind sister.

What Kind of Parent Do You Want to Be?

So, I ask you the same question. What kind of parent do you want to be? Do you want to be mentoring beliefs and building a strong identity or do you want to survive the day-to-day and continue managing behaviors?


About Joy Wendling, MA
Enthusiastic. Passionate. Profound. Joy Wendling is a family pastor, writer, speaker, podcaster, certified parent coach, and founder of Created to Play. She has over 20 years of experience in children, youth, and family ministry, as well as a Master’s in Youth, Family, and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary. She also is certified in Connected Families Parent Coaching and Parenting for Faith. Her idea of relaxing is gazing at the mountains from her island home with an ice-cold Diet Coke and a good book. Joy lives in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys laughing and playing with her five daughters and husband. Get to know her better at and on her podcast titled Playfully Faithful Parenting. You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives