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