How To Discipline Children: 7 Tips for Christian Parents

by David Peach · 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:


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{ 41 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.


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?


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.


C. Bennett April 8, 2015 at 9:03 pm

However, there are a myriad other, non-physical ways to teach consequences. Our hands are far from tied.


Jeff B. August 11, 2020 at 10:42 pm

The Bible clearly states about driving foolishness from a child. You use the rod it correction. My hands will be tied to that truth. Either that, or let the authorities beat them to death….


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.


Robert Miller October 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Concerned Mom August 8, 2014 at 2:55 am

A 7 month old does not have the memory to learn from punishment nor do they do anything worthy of real discipline. A simple “no” and redirect will suffice typically until memory and cause/effect logic kick in around 1.5 years old.


Read closer October 12, 2021 at 6:53 am

I think you did not read the initial comment closely.
The commenter states clearly the child is 1year and 7 months. Old enough by your own volition of 15 months.


Innocent June 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm

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


Sally November 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm

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.



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.


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.



Evelyn June 24, 2016 at 1:31 pm

This is a very good article on the subject of discipline. I grew up in a home where the rod of correction was applied numerous times by my mother. I received quite a number of memorable spankings due to my daring and sometimes challenging the rules nature. One such incident happened when I was 7 years old. I and a couple of friends were smoking cigarettes that another kid at school had secretly taken from someone in their family. This went on for a few days. The whole situation was discovered days later when a friend of my mother’s informed her of my involvement. IL never forget the day, I walked in as usual when my mother confronted me with her news. I quietly acknowledge it to be truth and said I was very sorry to which she sternly reminded me of the rules and consequences of my behavior. All of sudden I was over her knees and getting the trashing of my life, she spanked me so hard with my father’s leather shoe. I thought it was never going to end. The next day that friend tried to give me a cigarette I quickly replied “no thanks”, my posterior reminded me of the consequences, such was my mother’s wrath. to modernist or those opposed to spanking this incident sounds like abuse but I can testify it certainly was not, I have a great relationship with my mother and I knew she loved me and was applying the method of correction necessary for me at that time.


Ruth Lepago March 24, 2017 at 2:29 pm

I’m really glad I found this site. I would like to tell you about our son. His is fourteen years old now and he is very rebellious. We are a Christian family and this son of mine never missed church all of his life. He went to every church service the whole family went to which is almost all. Churches in our country were very good. The problem is we moved to another country were there were not many Christian schools that can be found. And since this country we are in has only about 5 percent Christian population, the pastor of our church would not teach doctrines that might offend people so the preaching was always light and inspiring but never fire and brimstone kind of preaching. In our house we have Bible reading and prayer after dinner to supplement what was missing in the church. And also in the Christian school, there were many unbelievers who were enrolled and the Christians were quite outnumbered. So what happened was the Christians were influenced by the unsaved instead of the other way around. When my kids were small, I did not allow them to play any computer games but since all the other kids were doing it, they played secretly. Also since there were many unsaved people. My kid underwent a lot of bullying surprisingly even from his supervisors because the church where they attended did not preach the doctrines that were difficult to follow. When we got wi-fi, the kids also had limitations but this son of ours would just sneak out my phone or our notebook. We used to give positive and negative reinforcement to him but we said that children should do something because they believe in their heart it is the right thing to do. We wanted him to do what was right because he believes it to be the right thing to do, not because he is expecting a reward of trying to avoid punishment. So we just continued to pray for him.
So we started to get rid of the positive rewards and punishment. We just decided that he will learn to do right in the future. by the way, he knows Taekwondo which was what they learn in their Physical Education class. When he got taller, every time I would scold him he threatens to hit me which made me afraid to spank him. We started a church 3 years ago partly because we wanted our children’s spiritual condition to improve. The problems was we always had guests visiting or staying in our house. The effect was we tended to overlook discipline because we did not want to correct the kids when the guests were present. You know, like it sounded too inappropriate to be a disciplinarian when we have other people around. And some people would stay with us for days to months. Now he does not want to do any chores. He does not want to clean his room, wash or iron or fold his clothes. This is partly because he had an older brother who did everything for him. But this other son is back home to continue his studies. He believes that parents are programming their kids to just do as they are told. Now he cut his hair and he looks like a rock star. He does not want to continue with his discipleship classes and does not want to take the weekly Bible quiz. Please help us. What should we do?


Jack Wellman March 24, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Hello Mrs. Lepago. This is a difficult situation, but if your son doesn’t want to do any chores, then refuse to make dinner and stop doing his laundry and cleaning his room. Let him suffer the consequences of not doing his rightful share. The Bible teaches, if a man doesn’t work, neither shall he eat, so you parents can eat when he’s gone and then let him get himself something to eat. How old is your son? I would do not one thing more for him until he does something for the household. Every one must do their share or not take part in what the family shares in. It’s done in love….tough love…but love, nonetheless.


RGuerrera August 7, 2017 at 2:31 am

The situation you are referring to and I’m shocked it’s taken someone this long to point it out, but the child is not 7 months old but 1 year and 7 months


Diamond August 9, 2017 at 8:52 pm

I was wondering if I could leave my email here and be able to communicate with you via it? I have a few questions regarding discipline and would greatly appreciate hearing from you. My email is at ____ I hope to hear from you.



Jack Wellman August 9, 2017 at 8:55 pm

Hello Diamond. Rather than give your email address out (which I edited out to keep it private), I will contact you privately and hopefully, answer your questions. Thank you.


Julie August 28, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Spanking is abuse. Abuse is never ok. I believe these verses have been wildly misunderstood.

Greek thought describes objects in relation to its appearance. Hebrew thought describes objects in relation to its function.

The word ‘rod’ is translated from the word Shebet in Hebrew. This means sceptre or staff —as in a shepherd’s staff used for guiding the sheep. If the writer was talking about using a rod to beat someone he would have used the Hebrew word Muwcar.

‘Rod’ is a metaphor which is defined in Psalm 23 as a rod that brings comfort in times of uncertainty. It is used to guide sheep, not hit them!

“Your rod and your staff they comfort me”


Jack Wellman August 28, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Hello Julie. I see your point, however the shepherd’s staff was used as a device to discipline and keep the sheep in line and together, and to move them to greener pastures. My uncle has raised sheep for 56 years, and he knows, just as they do in the Middle East, that a shepherd uses his rod to protect himself and the herd from wild animals, such as wolves, coyotes or hyenas. A shepherd’s rod is usually made from solid wood, and it may be thrown at predatory animals or used to club them. Full Answer

A shepherd’s rod may also be used to prevent sheep from straying. Skilled shepherds can manipulate the rod to nudge a straying sheep, triggering it to come back to the herd. This allows the shepherd to control sheep from a short distance. A shepherd’s rod may also be used in correlation with a staff to guide the sheep. So you see that the discipline of the shepherd’s rod also protects them from harm, and is therefore good and necessary for the benefit and survival of the sheep. God disciplines every child of His because of love, so discipline is beneficial for the child.

True abuse is to neglect discipline, but I don’t agree that spanking within reason, is child abuse.


Ben March 26, 2018 at 11:20 pm

Your example further illustrates her point. My parents used those bible verses to justify hitting me with all sorts of objects when I was younger and it did nothing but foster resentment towards them and God for those verses in Proverbs. Proper exegesis of the text does equate the image of the shepherd’s rod with the act of discipline. What it does not do is equivocate that image with hitting your child with rod-like objects and several biblical scholars will attest to that.


Jack Wellman March 27, 2018 at 9:07 am

Hello Ben. I do agree. The rod is not giving permission for parents to use other objects to hit children. This is surely wrong. I have not said that hitting children is okay. I hope you can see that.


Genevieve Ocampo January 17, 2018 at 9:31 am


My son is five years old. I just want to ask how regular are we to spank our sibling? What if, everyday, he still keeps on doing it despite of the fact that he has been spanked? What are other ways of disciplining if the child tries to play deaf?

Thank you


Jack Wellman January 17, 2018 at 9:56 am

Hello Mrs. Ocampo. There are other ways to discipline like remove any video games or access to computers or ban TV time. If you restrict some of their freedoms, this might send them a message that it’s just not worth it. If the child tries to play deaf, take whatever they are playing with and put it in timeout. For example, if the boy is playing with a truck and not listening to you, take the truck and put the truck in timeout until he apologizes to you and says, “I’m sorry.” Maybe this will help.


Jaya May 30, 2018 at 3:28 pm

If parents hands are supposed to mark love and tenderness, they ought not be used to apply cruel strokes to a child’s behind. By striking a child you break their trust in you forever.

Spanking is wrong and simply teaches the idea that everything can be solved through violence. If it is said you should only hit a child when you can do no damage, what is the sense in hitting them at all?


Jack Wellman May 30, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Hello Jaya. What would you do to discipline a toddler or 4-year old? What if they resisted you putting them in a corner for timeout? What if they didn’t respect your discipline enough to obey you and did touch that hot stove? Spanking is not “striking child” and it is not ‘hitting a child” as you say. If you think the cost of discipline is too high here, then you haven’t seen anything yet because the cost of little or no discipline, and with consequences that go with that, will be exceedingly higher, later in life. Please don’t confuse striking and hitting a child to spanking. My mother did spank me, and today, I am not violent and neither are about 100 of my relatives who grew up getting spakend too. Almost all of them (96% of them) are contributing members of society.


Sara July 24, 2021 at 11:29 am

I couldn’t agree more Jack. We started early with our daughter with just a few light smacks on the clothed bottom. As she got older, she became less impacted by this form of discipline. Now she is 15 and she knows that disobedience mean a caning on the bare bottom. It is very effective and (for the most part) she is respectful and well behaved.


Jack Wellman July 24, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Thank you Sara. If only we would see discipline the way that God sees discipline; that it is an act of loving kindness intended for our good and not bad.


Cathy June 29, 2018 at 10:38 pm

Could you please help me? My granddaughter 22 months old whom I am raising is extremely strong willed she throws up to 10 tantrums a day . I read some of the book raising godly tomatoes n she encoured spanking which I have been doing. My granddaughter is very defiant at times n I’m feeling like I use spanking all the time for every defiant behavior. Sometimes I feel its just to much n I just resort to it because it’s all I know to do. This is a hard age to discipline. Can you tell me of any other ways to teach her than just resorting to a spank?


eric January 7, 2019 at 5:16 am

Thank you for this encouraging biblically based article


Kevin Manley July 26, 2019 at 10:38 pm

Great article. Thank you for the insight and scriptures. My wife and I are planning to have children and this will be a useful addition to our tool belt.


Sara September 6, 2021 at 2:38 pm

The New Testament says a bishop can be no striker. Nothing in the text says there’s an exemption for striking children.


Jack Wellman September 6, 2021 at 3:11 pm

Hello Sara. Striking children is not the same thing as discipline. Other alternatives can be used; time outs, withholding privileges, but if you refuse to discipline children (not strike them), then you show you truly do not care about them or love them. Dozens of Scriptures show that “he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Prov 13:24). No one is saying in this article to strike children. That’s unfair to the author here. The New Testament says a bishop can be no striker. Nothing in the text says there’s an exemption for striking children. The verse you used for the bishop is taken out of context.


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