In Start with the Heart, Kathy Koch urges parents to address their children’s hearts instead of focusing on mere behaviour modification. Koch argues that what motivates children to change is rooted in the heart of the child thus parents ought to concentrate on taking steps to help develop their children’s character. The author points out the many important implications of having strong character and places special emphasis on how character breeds resiliency in responding positively to failures. Koch then explains how the biblical commands to put off what is sinful and to put on what is righteous are the key elements of transforming one’s character. Furthermore, the author highlights how parenting involves shaping the five core needs of children namely identity, belonging, security, purpose, and competence. In Chapter 5, Koch focus on discovering what is important in the eyes of our children and steps to aiding the child in learning activities that resonates with those values. Chapter 6 concludes the first part of the book by reminding parents on how to use their various roles as coach, referee, teacher, and cheerleader at the right moments to journey with their children towards maturity. In the latter half of the book, the author provides practical advice on how to foster character in our daily interactions. Chapter 7 involves learning how to communicate with children in ways that are positive, enthusiastic, optimistic, and encouraging. Chapter 8 discusses the importance of listening carefully so that our responses trigger the child to change through their own words and actions. In the next chapter, Koch explains how to properly compliment and correct in ways that encourage children to continue progressing in exhibiting desirable traits and attitudes. At the end of the book, there are several appendixes with lengthy examples such as a list of complimenting words and a list of character traits.
I recommend this book to all parents who hope to raise their children to become God-honouring, responsible adults. Undoubtedly, it is the Spirit who works in our children to bring about lasting change that pleases God. However, Koch reminds parents of their responsibility to nurture their children’s hearts so that their God-given talents, gifts, and abilities are fully utilized for His glory. I appreciate how the author always asks parents to first examine their own hearts before trying to scrutinize their children’s hearts. The most fertile soil in which the hearts of our children develop is through the power of God’s Word, the supernatural work of His Spirit, and the tender, purposeful words and actions of God-loving parents. Although our parenting may sometimes seem ineffective and disappointing, we can have confidence that God always gives enough grace to parents and children so that both mature in greater godliness and love for God and between family members.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.