Book Review: Shepherding A Child’s Heart

What type of parent will love Shepherding a Child’s Heart and which type should steer clear away from the book?

Mom reading a parenting book

I have had several requests to read and review Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.

Let me say, this will be a mixed review.

On the one hand, this book has some great points. It has several of what I would call “Golden Nuggets” that put things well and make great points. 

On the other hand, it has quite a bit I disagree with.

I think the only parenting book I have read that I disagree with more is The Happiest Baby On the Block.

I find this funny because most of what I disagree with with Happiest Baby is the whole caveman/evolution thing, and Shepherding is a very Biblical book.

A simple example of me disagreeing with something in Tripp’s book is he lumps 0-5 year olds in the same category when discussing training objectives.

I just can’t even begin to pretend to make an argument for why a 6 month old and a 4.5 month old can be in the same category…

So, will you like this book? It is really hard to say. There are moms I highly respect who have this on their list of favorite parenting books.

I also have moms I highly respect who couldn’t even finish the book.

One thought is that if you are a reader of the Bible who spanks or plans to spank, you might really like this book. I am not personally a spanker, so obviously a huge chunk of this book contains information of no interest to me.

If you are a reader of the Bible and do not spank, you will find a lot you agree with and a lot you disagree with.

If you spank, you will find helpful information.

If you do not read the Bible and do not spank, it is best you stay away from this book 🙂

My personal view is that I think it is worth reading. There are good points in it and Tripp brings up some great things for parents to think about.

But I don’t think I would read it and decide it was a “must own.” Of course I purchased it before reading it, so I own it, but had I borrowed it from the library, I would return it and take it off of my Amazon Wish List. 

There will of course be future posts inspired by this book–both the good and the bad. Until then, you will have to read it for yourself to decide what you think.


Who should read shepherding a child's heart

24 thoughts on “Book Review: Shepherding A Child’s Heart”

  1. I was thinking you were going to really like this book! :-(I'd like to ask: are you opposed to spanking or just find it more effective to use logical consequences (this is your main form of discipline, right?). I'm still up in the air about what is most effective for our 21 month old daughter. I've found that its best for ME if i dont spank b/c typically when i want to spank, i'm upset with a choice she's made which is NEVER a good way to start a discipline, especially spanking 🙁 But i also find it difficult sometimes to think off the cuff and realize what a "logical" consequence would be for the situation. I guess that might sound dumb, but it's not something that has come naturally (i learn best by watching something be modeled for me and i've seen very little of this w/ my friends… most of them do time out or spanking, or both). Ok, so what's your take. Biblically as well as personally (of course i know they go hand in hand for you :-)). THANKS!KElly

  2. I fell in the camp of not being able to finish the book even though I DO read the bible and use physical forms of punishment. Although I'm still trying to work through it slowly. I just find myself getting frustrated. The thing that bugged me the most was the claim that God COMMANDS the use of the "rod" which Tripp only defines as spanking. First of all, the rod verses he quotes are found in proverbs, which is not a book of the law it is a book of advice. Second, I think those verses speak to much more than just spanking. In my opinion, some of those verses refer to the fact that discipline often needs to be painful (maybe physically, but maybe not) in order for it to be effective. My Daughter losing her right to play with a certain toy, usually because she has thrown it across the room, is certainly a very effective tool and it is a painful time for her. But she doesn't need to be spanked to get the message. Sorry for the rant in the comment section! I was just disappointed that this book didn't contain more.

  3. I haven't read this book in part because of the spanking. I'm not opposed to it persay but the reviews on Amazon said how you were supposed to spank according to the Bible,etc. (don't know if that's accurate as i hadn't read it). But I had read Lehman Making children Mind without losing yours and he specifically addressed that and how that bible quote about the rod is totally misinterpreted. I found it very interesting.My issues with spanking is you're not supposed to do it out of anger and I am ashamed to say that when I am tempted to spank it's when I've lost my cool. So I don't think that is good for me to do then! (And of course that is only one spank)

  4. I've skimmed the book. I haven't sat down to read it because it looks like most of it is trying to build a biblical philosophy and approach to parenting–something my husband and I have already done. What we need is the practical, nitty-gritty stuff. And yes, I was surprised that the age categories were so broad. I did like To Train Up a Child. 🙂 Certainly don't agree with everything in it! But there are a lot of good common-sense things and training examples given. I especially appreciate that it stresses the fact that you should never have to yell at your kids. You train them to respond to your calm requests. Not disciplining them, and then yelling or threatening to get them to finally obey amounts to training them NOT to listen until you yell or threaten. Made so much sense to me, since those were the mistakes I grew up with….

  5. I recently went through this book with my moms group and we got a lot out of it. One of the things that he does talk about is that if you find yourself angry then you are to put the child in a safe place, then you calm down then follow through with the discipline. This book really helped me in teaching me not to discipline in anger and how to go about talking things through with your child when you do discipline. Yes, there were things that I did not agree with in this book. However, with any book with the exception of the Bible you have to read books with a filter, take the good and apply the good and weed out the bad. As well as pray about what the Lord would want you to take from a book and apply that.

  6. I realize this book takes a radical approach to parenting/discipline, but following Christ IS a radical way to live. It's not meant to be just doing what we're always comfortable with and what WE think is right. I think it's sad that so many who call themselves Christians have taken on a lot of the world's views of parenting, namely that you just have to figure out what's right for you and do what you want, basically. So, those who aren't comfortable with spanking decide to have a "different interpretation" of the bible. I think it's interesting what you said that mainly just those who both spank and read the bible would embrace this book. So basically, we should all just read things that affirm what we've already decided to do? What's the point of reading parenting books then? I know you weren't saying that no one else should read it, obviously, but I think what you're pointing out is that people are really only willing to go so far when it comes to parenting. Most people seem to just want advice that fits with what they want to do. I appreciate those in the vast minority who are willing to stand up and do what's RIGHT and what WORKS, not just follow whichever parenting book sounds good to them.

  7. Christine,First, your interpretation of what the Bible says about spanking is not what ALL people who read the Bible interpret for spanking. Second, I think to accuse me of only doing things that are "comfortable" or "mainstream popular" is a bit far-fetched. This IS a blog about parenting through Babywise….which is neither easy nor mainstream popular. Google it and it is easy to figure that out.

  8. Christine-I'd also like to add to what Valerie said and mention that for our family, we will likely at some point spank, but for the age that our daughter is right now (20ish months), spanking is simply not effective. So yes, there is some degree of being logical in parenting even when you are following the guidelines that the Lord has given in God's Word. So there are some of us who are trying to figure out what is most effective for our kids right now. And i also have no doubt that there are some kids who do not respond to spanking at all. My mother is one such person. I also have a very close friend who has followed babywise with all 3 of her children who will tell you that for her oldest, taking away privileges is WAY more effective than spanking.My point being, there are a lot of people who are doing their best to parent in a godly way who may not spank, not because they believe it's necessarily "wrong" but because it's simply not the MOST effective discipline method for their child. And I say kuddo's to them for caring more about doing right by their child than doing something that doesnt work. God's chastisement is certainty multi-faceted and i think it would be shameful of us as parents to think that parenting is black and white… what a blessing it is to be able to be creative in our correction of our kids just as the Lord is with us :-)Kelly

  9. Parenting, the Bible, AND spanking? This post is on FIRE! 🙂 As someone who neither reads the Bible nor intends to spank, I won’t be reading this book. Thanks for the review! I don’t think spanking is wrong, but so far it hasn’t been at all necessary (20 mo DD) I'm sure I can work toward other alternatives and I certainly don’t need a Biblical justification for it. Seems obvious to me that nothing is ever totally right or totally wrong, even if you believe the Bible (or other) to be that clear on the subject – it’s still an interpretation, even if it’s popular and believed by many. If it were that black and white, this book wouldn’t need to be written! You cannot take the human element out of your behavior or what you believe – we are human, after all. And if I believed such things, I would think that is how God created us to be.

  10. Kelly, I know, I thought I was going to love it too 🙁 I don't hate it, like I said, there are some great points that made me stop and think, but there was lots I didn't like, too. I can't honestly give a definitive answer to my stance on spanking. I don't think it is the best method. I think there are other methods that do take more work, but are more effective at creating long-term changes in behavior. I know that I don't think people who spank are bad or evil at all–so I am not against it fully. But I also know I would NEVER consider it at all for my children, so I am not for it either :)On the purely Biblical side, I don't think spanking is commanded or even mandated in the Bible. I believe in modern day revelation and one of my favorite quotes from our last prophet says something to the effect of children need love, not a beating. Obviously a beating is different from the way a BW or GKGW parent spanks, but that has always stuck with me.

  11. Megan I definitely appreciate your comments. I was surprised you didn't like the book since you do use physical forms of punishment, so I appreciate you sharing your perspective on it.

  12. Emily and Lauren, I haven't read To Train Up Your Child. I definitely agree with the idea that yelling trains a child to respond to yelling.

  13. I know this post is from last year, but I just finally read the book, so I wanted to comment…I found this book to be interesting… like you, Val, there were parts I really liked and then parts that left me really confused! I really enjoyed how he calls parents to rear their children in an extremely rich, meaningful and intentional way so that the children might become biblically virtuous individuals! His instructions on spanking, however, left me rather confused! I'm not totally against spanking… especially in the controlled and loving way that he suggests using it. But, I also think that there are other methods that can be just as (if not more) useful (i.e. loss of a toy or privilege, or crib isolation/time out), depending on the child. What I didn't like the most about the book, though, was, as you said, lumping ages 0-5 together. I think Tripp majorly contradicts himself in saying that communication paired with the rod is key… yet he feels the rod is appropriate to use on a child less than 18 months!!!!!… an age where your two way communication with your child is limited! You can't have a heart felt discussion with your 18 mo old on why they did something and why you must now spank them. If communication is such a vital part of the use of spanking, then I think parents really need to wait until there can be full on (two way) communication between them and their children!

  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kristin. I think it is always good to have lots of opinions for other parents to see if they want to go ahead and take the time to read the book or not.

  15. Interesting post. I have been following this blog for quite some time and have taken a lot from it, although I can't honestly say I agree with everything. I have a 20-month-old and one on the way, so I am somewhat of a newbie when it comes to a lot of things and am open to suggestions and insight from more experienced mothers. Was just reading about your view on spanking and really, it is about what you believe the Bible says. I realize people have differing takes on this topic, and spanking is certainly not recommended or encouraged in today's society because people associate it with abuse, which it can escalate to if it involves hitting on any place other than the buttocks, and in a fit of rage. I personally do spank, because for me, it's effective IF done in the right way (ie, not losing your temper or hitting out of anger, etc). You can't reason with a 20-month old, I've found… least not mine. He just gets more and more rebellious with verbal commands, and if I simply take something away,or put him to bed, a major tantrum ensues. It's a heart issue, and the heart issues need to be addressed, even at this age. He won't stop the tantrum when ignored, gently rebuked or put into his bed. Sometimes this may work as they get older, but right now a spanking when warranted is the best approach for me. What we do is not abuse, and it works. Of course, I only try to do it if I'm calm and in the right frame of mind, which admittedly can be hard to do. All this said, I appreciate many of the tips on this blog. I will readily admit there are other ways to discipline.

  16. I just finished this book and loved it! I think a lot of people are missing the huge point with spanking that he said to do so when the child shows "defiance". When your child is mad and throws a toy is not showing defiance. So yes, you would want them to lose the privilege of that toy… Not everything your child does necessitates a spanking. I wasn't sure where I stood with Biblical spanking and discipline till I read this book. It has already created more peace in our home since my spouse and I have been following steps necessary to keep their (childs) dignity and our cool. The big idea is obedience. Every parent trains their children somehow.

  17. I loved this book. It was an answer to prayer. Best parenting book I've ever read! I checked it out of my local library, and now I definitely want to buy it!


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