Discipline is the act of correcting specific wrong behavior in our children’s lives, including words, attitudes, and action. It refers to more than just spanking or timeouts: it is the whole process of responding to the negative behavior, confronting the attitude, reprimand if necessary and then resolution.
Issues such as direct disobedience, wrong attitudes, dangerous behavior, lying, violence, disrespect, and defiance necessitate discipline. A lack of loving discipline will negatively affect our children and those around them. While education and environment play a role in our children’s development, they don’t eliminate the need for direct parental intervention through discipline.
Knowing and believing what the Bible teaches about child
Discipline is our first step and best tool. God’s principles are the only ones that will bring success. Incorrect forms of discipline can harm our children emotionally and physically, while a lack of discipline will allow character flaws and immaturity to continue, sabotaging their future. Allowing the Bible, not negative experiences, worldly philosophies, or incomplete definitions of love to direct our parenting is our goal.
- Were you disciplined as a child?
- Was it a positive or negative experience?
- How has that influenced how you discipline your kids?
- Do you and your spouse have different views on discipline?
The Need for Discipline
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
Discipline is necessary because children, like all of humanity, are born with a sin nature. In other words, they have a natural tendency towards sin, which simply means, missing the mark for their life.
That seems challenging to believe when our children are newborns, asleep in our arms; but within months’ seeds of the same sins adults deal with begin to manifest. We don’t have to teach our kids selfishness, defiance, lying, and hurtful behavior. It comes naturally to them. We choose to teach them the opposite, such as, how to be giving, obedient, truthful, and kind.
Small children need more boundaries and relatively frequent discipline for their own protection and for the development of self-control. If we are faithful to correct and train them at this age, they will need less and less discipline as time goes by. This is especially true after they come to faith and begin to know God for themselves. When they get to their teen years, we will be able to enjoy a wonderful, delightful relationship.
If we are too tolerant and lenient when they are small, however, their pre-teen and teen years are likely to be turbulent and painful. It is best to apply more restraint and control just when they should be moving towards greater independence. It is far better to allow their maturity to determine their freedom. We enforce firm boundaries when they are small, and then progressively give them liberty as they can handle it.
- What decisions should small children not make?
- What decisions could older children make on their own?
The alternative to child discipline is to employ tactics such as manipulation, threats, yelling, and nagging. Besides being ineffective ways of directing children’s behavior, these create a negative environment in our home and eventually will frustrate and alienate our children.
During their childhood, our kids are mainly under our training, boundaries and discipline. Once they are grown, however, they will be under the authority of God and other human institutions. Our discipline is light compared to what they will face if they do not learn submission, self-control, and godly character now. When we correct them, we are saving them from much greater pain and heartache in the future.
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul
from death.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)
The Goal of Discipline
The goal of discipline is always change and restoration. Punishment is a means to an end, not the end in itself. We never discipline for revenge or to make our kids “pay” for their errors. We don’t focus on the punishment, but rather on repentance, forgiveness of sin, and change of behavior. Proper discipline accomplishes several things in our children:
- It teaches them wisdom.
- It helps them overcome temptation to sin.
- It teaches them self-control.
- It helps them associate blessing with obedience, pain with disobedience.
- It develops their conscience and moral character.
- It teaches a respect for authority.
- It protects them from dangerous activities and attitudes.
- It demonstrates to them that we care about them.
- It gives them security and boundaries.
- What could a lack of discipline produce in a child’s life?
Consider writing your thoughts about Loving Discipline for your children. Share those with your spouse.
– Pastor Gini