One of the big stories lately has been the new “no spanking laws” that are trying to be passed. Recently someone asked what I thought about disciplining children. I am no expert, but I know the Bible is full of verses about disciplining children. Here are a few things I think are important…
- DO understand that there is a HUGE difference between discipline and abuse (Proverbs 19:18). These two things are light-years apart. The Bible talks about discipline as correcting. Physical and verbal abuse to a child is detestable and would fall under catergories like hatred and anger. But clearly understand that God telling us, “Discipline your children, for in that there is hope,” has nothing to do with abuse but correction.
- DO discipline for willful defiance and not for natural childishness. Believe it or not children will behave like children. Your kids are going to do things like forget to do their chores, leave their clothes on the floor and even spill their milk. They do this because they are kids and you should leave room for them to be children. Use discipline for willful defiance, rebellion and disobedience, but always err on the side of grace with childishness.
- DON’T wait to late to start discipline (Proverbs 13:24). Discipline should start early in life. Studies show that children have formed most of their values, ethics and morals by the time they are about 6 years old. So don’t wait till they’re grown to start discipline.
- DO understand there is a perfect place for corporal punishment (Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13-14). The perfect place for corporal punishment is that well padded place God created on which we sit. And sometimes with very small children possibly the back of their hand will work. Never anywhere else. Ever.
- DO have a balance between corporal punishment and verbal correction (Proverbs 3:11-12). Use corporal punishment for more serious offenses and use verbal correction when possible. Also, understand you probably don’t need to be spanking your 16 year old son who is 6’4”. Instead use other forms of discipline such as grounding, withholding privileges or taking away his pickup keys 😉
- DON’T be inconsistent. Don’t discipline your children for something one time and not the next (or visa versa). That makes it very confusing for children exactly where the boundaries are.
- NEVER discipline out of anger (Ephesians 6:4). If you are angry wait till you’ve cooled off to discipline. Disciplining because you are angry at your child is not a good reason to discipline.
- DO explain to your child why they are being disciplined (Ephesians 6:4). Your child won’t know how to correct the problem if you don’t tell them what they did wrong. After disciplining them, talk to them, hold them and stay with them.
- AGAIN, ALWAYS ERR ON THE SIDE OF GRACE.
What are some words of wisdom would you give to parents on “how to” or “how not” to discipline children?