How To Discipline Children: 7 Tips for Christian Parents

by David Peach on September 28, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

Disciplining your children is an important aspect of parenting. There are many opinions about the right way to discipline your children so sometimes it is hard to know what is best for a Christian family. Even with the following suggestions, there are personal decisions you will have to make. I want to encourage you to follow God’s Word and His plan for raising a godly family and instilling proper character in your children.

God has given you the responsibility to raise your child. That responsibility does not belong to your child’s school — not even your church. It is your responsibility from God; therefore you should take the role of leader and authority with confidence knowing that it is God-ordained that you do so.

Start Early

You must start early with discipline. Waiting until your child is 14 is too late. Habits will have been formed long before then. Babies can quickly become great manipulators of their parents. The way you respond to your child’s manipulation as a baby sets the tone for the rest of your life together. If you wait until your child is 5 years old to start instilling discipline in them, then you have waited too long.

Your children need to learn to obey as soon as possible. They need to show a proper attitude in obedience as well. Ephesians 6:1, 2 says that children should obey and honor their parents. It is one thing to obey (do what they are told), but they also need to do it with honor. This is something they need to be taught early.

Realize Each Child is Unique

A child who never receives discipline in the home will have a harder time understanding and accepting their need of salvation.

Every child responds to discipline in different ways. My two children couldn’t be more different in personality and in the way they respond to correction. One is tender and thoughtful. There is rarely a time when they need to be told twice not to do something. The other child is forgetful to the point of forgetting that discipline hurts and they don’t really want to go through it again. This one continues to relive the same cycle until the pain sets in.

You cannot expect your children to respond the same way to correction; whether it is discipline by spanking or positive reinforcement. Realize they are different and correct them in a way that is appropriate to them. They still need discipline, but you may find they work better with a different form than your other children.

Be Consistent

The Bible says not to frustrate or provoke your children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4). This is done when a child has no idea what is expected of him. Most of us have been in situations at work or school when we are unsure what is expected of us. It is frustrating when the boss allows one behavior one day, but then says you will be disciplined the next day for the same actions. The lack of consistency is frustrating. Don’t do that to your child.

Children should know what is expected of them. They should know that mom and dad will behave the same way each time a punishable offense is done. Don’t frustrate (or provoke your children to wrath) by being inconsistent.

Apply the Rod of Correction

There are times when spanking is needed and appropriate. However, I will also concede that sometimes spanking is not appropriate. You should not spank your child when you are angry. You should spank them because it is right and necessary. If you cannot control yourself and spank appropriately then you need to understand that you lack personal self-discipline and need to ask the Lord to help you fix some character flaws in your own life.

When appropriate, and necessary, you should apply the rod of correction to your child in a consistent way. The Bible talks about using a rod which could also be a belt, wooden spoon or other appropriate paddle. I recommended that you use something other than your hand. Your children should think of their parents’ hands as something that is used for love and tenderness.

Read and study these Bible verses that will help you see what God says about physical discipline: Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13, 14; Proverbs 29:15; Hebrews 12:11

Stay Calm and in Control

Remember that you are the authority and that it is God-given authority that you have. You don’t need to lose control or yell at your child. Your authority has already been established by God. The only one you are trying to convince when you raise your voice is yourself. Accept the God-given responsibility to discipline your child and confidently administer the punishment necessary.

This is where starting early is important. If your child knows that you will call them 5 times to supper before you raise your voice or they get in trouble, then they won’t come until the 5th time you yell at them. You have trained them to ignore you. You need to take control and teach them that when you say something, they need to obey. Besides starting early, you also need to be consistent as previously mentioned.

Godly Character is the Goal

God instituted the family to help us learn about Him. Children learn about God, the Heavenly Father, from their earthly father. It is so much easier for a child to understand their need of salvation when they have a good family unit and they understand consequences for their sin. A child who has been disciplined and understands the consequences of their wrong actions is a child who can easily (and early) understand that God will punish sin. A child who never receives discipline in the home will have a harder time understanding and accepting their need of salvation.

This family unit that God ordained teaches children to become productive members of society. They learn how to interact with others and how to behave around authority. These children are the ones whom the boss at work wants to promote because they can be trusted and are good workers. Godly character should be the goal of discipline; not just adherence to a list of rules.

Have a Positive Attitude Towards Discipline

Don’t dread discipline. Discipline is respectful to the child and the world they will grow up to impact. Being positive does not mean you need to look forward to every opportunity to spank your child that you can get, but that you will have a proper outlook for how important discipline is. It is like personal discipline. You may not look forward to going to the gym, walking around the block or pushing away from the table, but if you have the right attitude, you know that doing these things will have good repercussions in your life. It may not be fun at the moment, but the result is far more enjoyable (a well-behaved, godly child) than the alternative.

Building Tomorrow’s Leaders

Your actions today will help your child learn how to live properly around others. Maybe you are reading these discipline tips in regret that you did not start properly. You cannot change the past, but you can change the way you train your children now. Apologize to your children for not doing right by them and respecting them enough to train them. Then ask the Lord to help you while telling your children how things will be different in the future. You are training the next generation of leaders. Your children can grow up with godly character if you will take the time to instill it into them today.

Interested in more articles about children and parenting

Tale a look at these from our archives:

Sources:

YouTube video: “Be Strong in the Lord” by Refuge of Sound Forth Singers & Orchestra of Bob Jones University



Share this post:  |  |  |  | Twitter

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

ivelia molina September 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Thank you, very helpful article to grow and share with family and friends.

Reply

Eugene October 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm

An apposite article founded on the word of God. However, there is much regret relative to what is happening in the Western world today where a child could get the parents into trouble for trying to discipline that child, especially, through spanking. We all know it, a parent could suffer adverse consequences! Can it be safely said then that the West has missed it, especially, in the face of universalism, pardon me, or what is it termed?

Reply

David Peach October 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Eugene, I really do think we have painted ourselves into a corner when it comes to disciplining our children. We want them to grow up understanding that there are consequences for their actions, but we seem to have our hands tied when we try to teach that to them.

Reply

Mpho Modiakgotla October 5, 2012 at 6:15 am

thank you for such an informative article. We surely need God’s guidance in disciplining our children, because parenting is definitely not an easy thing nowadays.

Reply

Robert Miller October 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm

David,

I thank you for writing this article. There are too many people these days who argue that spanking is ‘damaging’ to a child. My mother was never afraid to spank me when I was growing up, and I certainly haven’t turned out ‘damaged’. In fact, the spanking was enough to make me a fast learner! I certainly learned that spanking hurt, and if I didn’t want to be spanked then I should listen.

I once watched a video where a man claimed that ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ wasn’t Biblical. I believe he stated it was written by a poet. At the time I was perplexed, because I had always thought it was in the Bible. Then I finally sat down and read the book of Proverbs, and interestingly found a verse that went something like this: ‘He who spareth the rod loveth not his son’. My apologies if that isn’t exactly verbatim. The point is, while the exact words, ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ may not have been in the Bible, the sentiment behind it certainly is!

Are there times when parents go overboard? Of course. We all have times where we go overboard… with anything. We’re imperfect humans living in an imperfect world. It’s bound to happen, and it is very sad and unfortunate when a child has to suffer because his/her parent(s) could not control their anger enough to instill reasonable discipline. The problem, in my opinion, is that we like to paint situations with a broad stroke, so when we see a particular thing/action lead to negative consequences we automatically point the finger and say, “That thing/action must be bad!”

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. Thank you for writing this article, David, and thank you for having the courage to speak openly and honestly.

Reply

Robert Miller October 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

*One part near the end there should say, “When we see a particular thing/action lead to negative consequences in one/some circumstance…..” Obviously if something continuously leads to negative consequences then we can reasonably conclude that this thing should probably be avoided in general. If it only happens in isolated incidents or in certain patterns (say, alcoholic parents or parents with anger control issues) then we can certainly determine that it is not the thing (spanking, in this case) that is the problem, but rather the person doing that thing.

Reply

Michael Snow October 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm

It is refreshing to see an article that takes the Bible’s instructions to heart. One thing we need to think more about is the discipline of teaching our children. The Shema [Deu. 6] put it thie way: Teach God’s commands when we sit in our house, when walk by the way, when we lie down, when we rise. That takes discipline. There is much to teach our children. Here is a good way to start for younger children.
http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/teaching-children-the-ten-commandments/

Reply

Jo McInnes March 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I find this talk of spanking and using a rod chilling. Discipline seems to be equated with physical pain when in fact, a good parent can perfectly well discipline their child without resorting to physical punishment. I smacked my children a couple of times and always felt bad – I had lost control and I was the adult. We tell our children that fighting and hitting is wrong, then hurt them. We are supposed to be their loving protectors. Spanking never taught a child anything except to hate and fear their parents.

Reply

Pamela Rose Williams March 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Hello Jo, I know David is the author of this article but I could not help but re-read the article just now. I wonder if you took his advice and read and studied these Scriptural guidelines for “spanking”. David said “Read and study these Bible verses that will help you see what God says about physical discipline: Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13, 14; Proverbs 29:15; Hebrews 12:11″

The Bible supports physical discipline … which should never be done out of anger.

Reply

Edwige May 22, 2013 at 11:11 am

Thank you so much David, for taking time to write such a great article with strong biblical support. My child is a year and 7months old, my husband and i are having a hard time correcting her cos we dont know which measures to use. When should spanking be introduced? What are we to do when she goes wrong at this age? Thanks and God bless you your family and ministry.

Reply

David Peach May 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Edwige, thank you for your comment and you question.

I think your child is certainly old enough to respond to discipline. If she doesn’t respond to positive reinforcement and “time out” type punishments, then it is probably an appropriate time to introduce physical discipline.

Please read the verses in that section of the article and never spank your child out of anger or when you are not in complete control.

Reply

Edwige May 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Thank you so much David, for your very usefull advice, i’ll surely apply them approprately. Thanks also for your timely reply, i realy am gratefull. God bless you.

Reply

Innocent June 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I would like to say thank you for good words may god bless you

Reply

Sally November 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Hi
Thank you for your article. I have had discussions of this sort with many friends… Some Christians and some not. Interestingly, many (both Christians and otherwise) do not advocate hitting a child with a ‘rod’.
Proverbs is an Old Testament Book, and when Jesus came, He taught loving discipline, and to turn the other cheek, as evidenced in the books of the New Testament.
I am not saying that one must discard Old Testament writings and should never spank their child, on the contrary, but why use a rod/belt/spoon etc? You say that hands are for loving… Well, wouldn’t a child have enough sense to know that it is those ‘loving’ hands holding the weapon that is spanking them?
I believe we don’t give our children enough credit. I smacked (with my hand) my child on his bottom, fairly frequently to my mind, for the first 4 years of his life. I find that now it is easier to reason with him. Smacking seems to just humiliate him. I don’t want him to see me as a humiliating parent. I want him to turn to me for love, guidance and support, which he often does. At what point do we draw the line and respect our children as rational beings?

My parents used to smack us kids with their hands. I never viewed those hands as evil, scary, or something to be feared. Nothing in my adult life reminds me of smacks I received from my parents, even when I see their hands today. They do not remind me of smacking. Ask kids 20 years from now what comes to mind when they see a wooden spoon. I bet the answer won’t always be ‘a utensil for use in the kitchen’.
In addition, when a hand is used for smacking, one is well aware of the amount of pressure being used, as it can easily be felt. However, the same cannot be said for whatever weapon of choice is being employed.

Again, I am not saying one shouldn’t smack, but the how, when and why is where I think we tend to get too bogged down in semantics and trying to find a one-size-fits-all programme. All children are different and relate differently to various types of discipline. Lets not become fanatical about this.

Thank you for an insightful article.

Regards,
Sally

Reply

Jack Wellman November 20, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Sally, thank you for your question and comments. I agree. A rod should never be used. The “rod” is symbolic of discipline and that is a way that the Old Testament used the word for not to withhold correction for if a parent doesn’t discipline, spank when necessary, they are not helping the child and discipline is equal to love. No discipline is equal to apathy (or not caring). Does this help my friend? I agree, no rod should ever be used on a child and spanking should only occur on the child’s bottom which is padded somewhat to prevent damage to a child.

Reply

Sally November 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Dear Jack

Thank you for your response. It is like a breath of fresh air to hear you say that. I am in full agreement.

Thank you for your reply.

Regards
Sally

Reply

Leave a Comment

Powered by sweetCaptcha






Previous post:

Next post: