For the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12 - ESV (See also Hebrews 12:6)
This lesson’s principle: Discipline is an ongoing relationship with a mentor and student, or parent and child in which instruction, reminders, encouragement, consequences and chastisement all play a role in order to change behavior.
How much of our child-raising is based on cultural rather than biblical truths? Biblical discipline refers to heart training, not just spanking or time outs. It seeks to drive the “folly” out of a child.
A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but discipline will drive it away. Pr 22:15 - NLT
Discipline comes from the same root as disciple, and it is a process of training & teaching that fosters moral development. The positive aspects of discipline are emphasis of inner growth, personal responsibility, and self-control.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Pr 4:23 - NKJV
Parents who biblically discipline tend to need to use punishment far less than those who don’t because they are shaping a child’s heart, not just changing behavior. The Bible does not frequently give specific disciplinary techniques to be used in child-raising. Instead, it gives principles on which to base these techniques. We must always weigh our techniques against scripture to see if they, indeed, hold up to biblical standards and principles.
Before we can expect our children to know what is expected of them, what is right and wrong, they must receive instruction. Most of what they learn is from watching you, but you must also verbally teach.
The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings. Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people. Pr 1:2-4
Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. And let those who understand receive guidance by exploring the depth of meaning in these proverbs, parables, wise sayings, and riddles. Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline. Pr 1:5-7 - NLT
Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Pr 29:17 - NIV
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Pr 22:6 - NKJV
Instruction, training, and correction (here, meaning to educate) are necessary to teach your child what is right and wrong, to help him see the path which he should take.
Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don’t, you will ruin their lives. Pr 19:18 - NLT
This is translated as “destruction” in many translations, but it does not refer to physical destruction but spiritual. Of course, if we as parents are not living what we preach, our instruction is usually worthless since the child sees we do not practice what we preach.
Many, probably most, decisions and activities of life have no morality attached to them—they are simply things we do. These behaviors are to be treated differently than those requiring moral decisions. At the same time, we are to encourage our children in amoral areas, too.
All of us have skills (things we have learned to do), talents (natural God-given abilities), and gifts (a magnified or potentially spiritual talent). We are to assist our children in acquiring and improving these aspects of their lives also. Skill acquisition requires patience, guidance, and motivation. Methods of motivation can be divided into verbal praise and goal incentives. Verbal praise lets your child know that you love them and are pleased by their behavior. It encourages the child regarding their progress in the disciplinary process. Goal incentives are tangible rewards given to encourage effort and progress in skills development. Be sure that incentives are appropriate for age and the task at hand. Do not use a goal set too high or the child may be discouraged.
Admonishment: Warning a child that an action or lack of action is unwise and may bring a bad result. (e.g., leaving tools outside). You shouldn’t necessarily punish a child for a mild infraction if he is normally characterized by immediate compliance and when admonishment will suffice. Don’t get carried away, as children become exasperated when parents demand perfection and not just excellence.
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Pr 25:11 - NIV
Discipline has 2 aspects: Encouragement and Correction. Encouragement teaches, trains, and rewards right behaviors. Correction is warranted when wrong behaviors have occurred in order to cause repentance.
Many, probably most, decisions and activities of life have no morality attached to them–they are simply things we do. These behaviors are to be treated differently than those requiring moral decisions. At the same time, we are to encourage our children in amoral areas, too.
Pre-activity encouragement comes verbally before a required behavior is expected. This reminds and prepares the child in advance so that they remember what behaviors are expected of them.
Verbal reminders: “Remember, when you meet so-and-so today, shake their hand and say, ‘Hello, Ms. __’”
Dialogue questions: role play the situation which is about to happen, e.g., “Who can tell me the rules for when we go in the store?” (This is especially good for young children to take ownership of actions) Positive words: Attempt to speak as often as possible in positive words. Instead of saying, “Don’t spill your cereal on your way to the table,” consider saying, “See how carefully you can carry your cereal to the table.” Instead of saying, “Don’t get out of bed,” consider, “Obey mommy and stay in bed.”
Post-activity encouragement comes after the fact.
Affirmation: Verbally encourage your kids in the little things and the big. Consider saying, “I need (your help)” instead of “I want” or “do this.” Say “great job,” or “great game” with your hand on their shoulder. Hugs are always welcome. (Helpful hint for kids AND spouses!) Be careful not to qualify your encouragement: “Thanks for doing the dishes tonight, even though you did a poor job.”
Affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life, and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities. Gary Smalley
Rewards: tangible or intangible (gum vs. trip to park). These are used to reinforce behavior after the fact, not to stimulate it. “Because you were so good in the store today, Mom wants to buy you a special treat.” Offering something in exchange for good behavior prior to the action is bribing. That manipulates a child’s lust of the flesh and eyes. (I Jn. 2:16a) Don’t overuse rewards, or a child becomes conditioned and dependent on receiving them; make them occasional and special.
There are 2 goals in the correction process: helping the child take ownership of their actions/decisions, and helping them learn to make wise ones. Allowing them to suffer the consequences of their actions will most quickly teach them to change behaviors to bring about something more pleasant. If they are not allowed to suffer from bad decisions, they will continue to act in the same fashion, and these actions will become habitual and difficult to remove. (I see this in the emergency room every day.) Some rebellious or defiant behaviors will bring about natural consequences which will deter further similar actions, e.g., touching a hot stove after being warned. Others may not have consequences, so a parent must step in and be sure that actions have consequences that will cause the child to regret their bad decision. A healthy parent-child relationship is a necessary first priority, and correction is only one part of the discipline process. As we have learned, proper view of authority is vital; submission to scripture, essential. Outside of rightful administration, correction may actually be aggression or revenge.
Natural Consequences: Sometimes consequences of foolish behavior are painful in nature, elgl, slipping and falling when told not to run around the pool. This usually teaches the offender WHY he should have obeyed in the first place, and further punishment is not normally necessary. This is normally NOT the method of choice as it can be dangerous. Whenever possible, it is wiser to head it off in the first place before injury occurs.
Structured Consequences: When foolish behavior does not cause pain in itself, it then needs to be created artificially through structured consequences. This needs to be clear and consistent; children have contempt for weak authority and soon mock that authority. The child needs to know that punishment is exact and certain in order to learn to control his behavior. There are three main types of structured consequences:
You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you. Dt 8:5 - NKJV
I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 2 Sa 7:14 - NKJV
He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Pr 13:24 - NASV
Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction*. Pr 19:18 - NKJV
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. Pr 22:15 - NKJV
Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. 14 You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell. Pr 23:13 - NKJV
Don’t fail to correct your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death. Pr 23:13-14 - NLT
The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Pr 29:15 - NASV
To discipline and reprimand a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. Pr 29:15 - NLT
What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness? 1 Co 4:21 - NASV
Read Hebrews 12:4-11 in your Bible. Study it. See how it applies to you and how you can apply it to your children. Don’t skip this!
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Rv 3:19 - NKJV
What a loving God we have that He should consider us and treat us as His Children! Parents who love their children will chastise, yes, spank, their children. Do not fear losing your child’s love (or being politically correct!) more than obeying God’s will. God will use this to do a work in your children for their good; our obedience does matter greatly.
Do not be a parent like Eli who was warned in I Sam 2: 22-35, who lost all that he had because of his parenting priorities. Even King David made terrible parenting mistakes. Regarding his son Adonijah, I Kings 1:6 says, “ His father had never crossed (interfered, disciplined, rebuked) him at any time…” Adonijah tried to take the throne near David’s death. One of David’s other sons raped his half-sister, was murdered by his half-brother who eventually briefly took the throne from David himself.
How to administer chastisement: There are several components to biblical chastisement which are beneficial and help with “checks and balances” to avoid harm. (Truly, these apply to all type of discipline/chastisement.) When a child first has committed a sin that you decide requires chastisement (i.e. rebellion, disrespect, etc.):
You can find some more useful information here.
Instrumentation: A biblical rod came from a tree branch or bush stem. Ezzo believes that things unbending should not be used as they may break fingers that get in the way or cause serious damage. Our reply is that if you might break fingers, you are not in control of your anger or your arm! Most any instrument may be used so long as it is used thoughtfully—meaning the force used should match the instrument. We normally used a very firm object but did not strike with reckless abandon. (We broke several wooden spoons but never fingers.) A belt, on the other hand, can more easily exceed the intended force used and cause real harm or injury. In short, take care with whatever you use.
We chose not to use our hands whenever possible because we always wanted our hands to show love, not pain; we never wanted our children to fear the touch of our hand. Once in a while we were forced to use the hand, but we do not recommend it as general practice.
Force: This will vary with the age of the child, the instrument used, and the offense. Generally, younger children only need one good swat while older may need several. A harder, larger instrument requires less force for pain, and a more serious offense should be more memorable. Match rebellious attitude with greater “adjustment”. If it does not cause significant pain, it is not accomplishing the purpose for which it is intended, and it will not only not help, it may possibly be worse than doing nothing. It is like no discipline.
Application: Spankings should normally be on the buttock covered by modest clothing. Sometimes the upper thigh is better or as good. Small children will usually respond well to smaller infractions by a slap on the hand. Again, this should hurt and cause crying. Never strike the child anywhere on the face or head; this causes ridicule and humiliation which is never the goal of biblical parenting. Godly, biblical chastisement will not break the spirit of the child (it hopefully will break his rebellious will), but a lack of love and humiliation will break the spirit and potentially cause deep harm. God does not ridicule us; we must not ridicule our children.
We think it’s wise to have the child bend over and grab their calves, not letting go until spanking is finished. If they put their hands back there, they will get hit and a normal spanking still follows.
Occasionally with small children out in public, something must be done at the time, and spanking is not an option. We often would place our hand on their inner thigh and tell them what was to happen—either a pinch for foolishness or a warning to regain their composure or a pinch would follow. Older children may need reminding of the rules and that they will receive their consequences for their behavior when they get home again. On rare occasion, completely ignoring tantrums or other behaviors may be the best public option—with other consequences to follow later. Only ignore bad behavior if you cannot deal with it immediately and intend to deal with it definitively later.
Children who are spanked more often early in life typically require much less spanking—and chastisement—overall. They learn early on to control their actions and behavior, so discipline later is much smoother. Spankings will become less over time and should be almost gone before age 10, most by age 5-6.
A person can regret their actions but still not be repentant. We see famous people everyday “regretting” their actions but not repenting—not admitting moral fault, turning away, and asking forgiveness. Children will typically express regret and sorrow for their offense when they get caught. We, and our children, need to be truly repentant and seek forgiveness when we sin against another person.
Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Co 7:9 - NIV
Just as our relationship with God is harmed when we sin, our children’s relationship with us is hurt when they disobey. When the child realizes that his actions have affected the relationship and repents, asking forgiveness, true repentance occurs. This will repair the relationship.
When we look at Judges, we see a repetitive cycle where God’s people sin, are separated from God, repent, and are restored. Life is very much like this, and our children will know that they need restoration. In order for this to happen the child needs a contrite heart and asking forgiveness is necessary for the process to be complete. A child may say, “I’m sorry” for a mistake, but restoration from sin and rebellion requires repentance and forgiveness. A child not allowed forgiveness may carry long-term guilt.
Restitution is repayment for lost, damaged, or stolen property. Exodus 22 has several rules in this regard. There are times when your child should make restitution for things they may have broken in order to restore a relationship. Sometimes you will need to help with this. Base your dealings on the situation at hand.
If your child confesses wrongdoing before being caught, praise him for honesty, but he still (likely) needs to be punished for the wrong. Your punishment may be changed by his good actions. Sometimes they will only confess when they know they are going to get caught anyway. This does not mean much!
Make sure that your children see and experience you asking forgiveness, both from God for infractions against Him, and from them if you commit sin against them. This will make the whole restitution process much more meaningful and easier after chastisement.
Willful, intentional defiance and open rebellion are what the Bible calls foolishness. (Pr 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. NIV)
Folly: deception, trickery, disobedience, lacking in wisdom, or rebellion. A fool is an adult whose parents have never trained the foolishness out of him. Our job is to help transform the heart from what it is naturally to what it should be biblically. Disobeying, talking back, refusing to accept correction, and rejecting any form of authority are all expressions of direct, willful defiance. A haughty loook, pretending not to hear, pleading ignorance to the obvious after being caught in a misdeed, doing something “good” or “cute” to get out of doing what was instructed , and constantly saying, “I forgot”, are various forms of a more passive, indirect defiance. So is sulking, pouting, and whining.
These should never be broken.