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26. Book Review -- The Key to Your Child's Heart

Book Title: The Key to Your Child's Heart

Author: Gary Smalley

Year of Publication1984

PublisherWord Publishing


Author’s Web-site

Full Book Available in: English, Czech

You should read this book if you…

Have a child who tends to easily isolate themselves from the rest of the family, OR who is angry or pouts for no apparent reason, over a longer period of time than a day or two, OR if you need some creative new ideas on raising your teens, challenging them, holding them accountable, and teaching them responsibility.

“In a nut shell”…

This book helped me understand one of my children who had been offended and we were not even aware of it. He had a hard time receiving our love and communicating with us. His spirit was closed to us and to others that we knew he loved. This book showed us how to reopen his spirit and better understand how he felt offended and why. He was three years old at the time.

Key Ideas…

Raise your children with an open spirit by lovingly setting guidelines and creating a warm, close home life. In this way you help them grow up confident and responsible as well as share fulfilling lifelong relationships with them.

Four Basic Types of Parenting: Dominant (produces the most negative qualities in children), Neglectful (tend to lack both loving support and control over their children), Permissive (warm and supportive, weak in establishing and enforcing rules and limits for their children), Loving and Firm (clearly defined rules, limits, and standards for living).

Action Steps…

There is a list of 84 ways we offend our children: misunderstanding their motives or being insensitive or rough with them emotionally, and/or breaking promises to them that seem small to us. You can learn how to discern if your child’s spirit has been closed to others: resistant, argues, seeks unhealthy relationships, uses disrespectful language. If our spirits are closed to others, then we are not open to deep relationships or even communication with others. We can close down and begin to isolate ourselves, either from those that hurt us or where we perceive the hurt to be.

5 Ways to Reopen the Spirit: Become Tenderhearted, Increase Understanding, Recognize the Offense, Attempt to Touch, Seek Forgiveness.

Express loving support to children: The author specifically talks about aspects of relationships with one another that may not be commonly thought of, such as, unconditional commitment, scheduling times together, being available to our children, treating them tenderly and using eye contact. He helps the reader understand how to better listen to each other, understand each other and how to use meaningful touch.

Simple suggested limits for children ages 3-5:

We will obey God as we understand the Bible.

We will obey Mommy and Daddy.

We will be kind to people and things—God’s creation.

Three ways to motivate children – a powerful way to change behavior:

Using their natural bent – understand your child’s personality and temperament and learn their basic interests and talents. When you know his/her goals, you can use them to read, eat healthier, meet people, etc.

Using the “salt” principle – The old saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”, is not necessarily true. If you dump salt into his oats he will become thirsty. Use your child’s interests to share things that will help him/her be successful. Guidelines: clearly identify what you wish to communicate, identify your listeners most important interests, share just enough of your idea to stimulate curiosity, use questions to increase curiosity, communicate your important information or idea only after you see you have your child’s interest and attention.

Using emotional word pictures – associating our feelings with either a real or imaginary explanation – this allows us to connect deeply with one another.  (“I feel like the color blue,” “Cars don’t do without gas, you won’t go without food,”)

Close-Knit families appreciate each other, spend a great deal of time together, practice good communication patterns, have a strong sense of commitment, have a high degree of religious orientation, and can deal with crisis in a positive manner.


“I’ve found that if we carefully watch non-verbal expressions, we can add to our understanding of what’s going on inside a child.“ Pg 35

“People do what you inspect not what you expect.” Henry Brandt Pg 93

Statistics and Interesting Facts…

In training children, the emphasis should be 45% structure with limits and 55% a loving relationship.

How this has changed my parenting…

I chose to review this book because the principles outlined here radically and positively affected the ways we parented our four young children. That was 25 years ago, and I feel that our children, as adults today, are more well-rounded due to some of the principles we learned from this book. I highly recommend having this book as a resource in your own personal library. It is helpful to refer back to all along the way during your family’s developments. I don’t think you ever outgrow this book!

© 2011 The Family Project

Related Topics: Christian Home, Mothers, Fathers, Parenting, Book Review, Parent Resources

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