CHILD DISCIPLINE







The Lord God is THE perfect father, so our own parenting should be modeled upon Him. 

Happily, the Lord gives us much counsel within the Bible on how to raise our children His way, and within this context, there is an emphasis on the over-arching importance of teaching wisdom and self-control. The thorough imparting of these qualities is so vital, it is even included among the qualifications necessary to become an elder in the church; thus indicating that the effective discipline of our children may be viewed among God’s highest standards for those who represent Him to the world.

The discipline the Lord desires is intended for both the training and the protection of a child. It encourages children to follow their parent's leadership and to taste the wisdom in maturity. Because parents are the primary protection God has provided for the young, a lack of Biblical discipline means danger for children and no discipline signifies a parent’s abdication of the role of protector.

Parental discipline is also training for a child's future walk with God. If a child does not learn to respond obediently to a parent physically present before him, how will he learn to obey the invisible Lord?

God desires parents to provide children with training in self-control through the process of correction. Self-control is an immensely important life-tool because it equips a child with the patience and endurance to gain their life objectives. On a more subtle level, it also equips a child with the ability to attend carefully to what is spoken to him, so it enables learning.

The Word establishes that God the Father disciplines His own children because of His tremendous love for them. Conversely, children often suspect that a parent who does not correct them, does not love them enough to make the effort. Most mothers strongly desire their children's love and approval; yet the act of discipline frequently causes conflict between parent and child because of the negative emotions that arise when the child’s will has been challenged. Nevertheless, a mother must be willing to love her child greatly enough to endure their anger as she does the right thing for them through administering correction.

As a cautionary tale on the subject, the Word offers us the sad results reaped by David and Eli because they failed to correct their children. If we, too, fail to discipline our children in obedience to God's will, He will discipline us as He did them. This is not to say that forgiveness will not follow abundantly for us, or that our lack of obedience will thwart God’s will for our children, but there will most certainly be consequences - the least of which is a chaotic household. And more the worse for us, because we did not heed the Lord when He took pains to tell us what we need to do to avoid those consequences, both for ourselves and our children.

On another level, if, as believers, we choose to overlook the form of child discipline mandated in scripture and elect to follow the opinions of the world or our own personal experience, what does this say about our faith in God's wisdom and our understanding of the divine inspiration of the Word?

So, how does God teach us to discipline our children?

1. You will not find instruction to anyone other than a child's own parents to provide the discipline.

2. It is to be done for rebellious disobedience alone - not for accidents, silliness, carelessness, or other behaviors typical to childhood. Before correcting, be absolutely sure that your child chose to rebel, and thus, disobeyed.

3. The current generation is surprised that the Lord is in favor of corporeal discipline, yet the use of a rod on the backside is specifically mentioned in the Word numerous times.

Please understand that God has clearly stated His hatred of mankind’s violence; therefore, we can know that physical discipline is to be done with restraint and reason. Any corporeal correction can go so wrong when a parent is reacting out of anger or frustration. A spanking on the backside is not intended as punishment; it is meant for training. To avoid inappropriate correction, it is best to have a plan prepared in advance and to stick to it religiously. There is no room for parental emotions such as anger or frustration in Biblically based discipline – only love for your child. Happily for us and our children, someone wise gave us such a plan.

My older brother, Tom, a Dallas Seminary graduate, raised four wonderful children. My husband and I marveled at the niceness of his teenagers, so when our firstborn was a baby, we asked my him, “How did you do that?” Tom told us that he and his wife had spanked to correct their children as they were growing-up and gave us some Bible-based guidelines for the practice. We followed his advice with our own sons, and I would like to share his good counsel with you:

1. Begin when you know your child is old enough to clearly understand what you are saying to them. This would be sometime in the toddler years.

2. Ask the child if he knows why he is being corrected; then tell him the reason in simple words, such as, “I told you not to go into the street, but you didn’t obey me. You went into the street, so now I need to correct you.”

3. NEVER use your hand. The Word calls for a “rod,” so my brother recommended using a medium-weight wooden spoon. (Actually, some wooden spoons are too light and some are too heavy, so I used to surreptitiously try them out on myself first before I bought one. (So-o-o embarrassing if you get caught doing the test on yourself in some lonely store aisle! ;)

4. Strike only the fatty part of the bottom. NEVER, EVER strike the highly personal face or the delicate and easily injured hands.

5. Administer only three swats, “One to sign-on, one to deliver the message, and one to sign off.” Commit to never deviating from this rule to prevent overdoing the correction.

6. Comfort your child with a loving hug after the discipline, and tell them something like, “I know you’ll do what I say next time. You’re a good learner, and you know how much I love you and want good for you.”

7. Treat these occasions of correction as if they are "just business" because that's all they should be. Discipling your child is in no way meant to be an outlet for your mood or emotions. If the child does X (an act of disobedience), then Y (discipline) will always happen. Business has been handled, any debt of offense paid, and training administered, so immediately go forward treating your child with restored pleasantness and trust.

8. Never, ever, “count” while waiting for your child's compliance in something you have asked. Only "tools" count, and children know it. Mean what you say and require prompt obedience.

9. Stop the spanking when your child has grown old enough that they would rather be spanked than scolded. While this usually occurs around age 10, it can vary.

Among the few things I would add to the wise leadership my brother passed onto us, is the need for consistency in correction. Repetition and certainty are needed in any form of training. Since the primary task of childhood is to explore, test, and develop theories of reality in a fallen world full of unpredictable consequences, consistency provides children with a welcome comfort and safety within which they can gain the experiences they need to mature.






SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

General:
Proverbs 3:11 - My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent His rebuke,
Proverbs 5:12 - You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!
Proverbs 5:23 - He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.
Proverbs 6:23 - For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.
Proverbs 10:13 - Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.
Proverbs 10:17 - He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Proverbs 12:1 - Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.
Proverbs 13:18 - He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
Proverbs 13:24 - He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Proverbs 14:3 - A fool's talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.
Proverbs 15:5 - A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
Proverbs 15:10 - Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die.
Proverbs 15:32 - He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
Proverbs 19:18 - Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.
Proverbs 22:15 - Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Proverbs 23:13-14 - 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 23:23 - Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.
Proverbs 29:15 - The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
Psalm 89:32 - I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging
Psalm 94:12 - Blessed is the man You discipline, O Lord, the man You teach from your law;
Psalm 23:4 - Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Job 5:17 - Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
Hebrews 12:6-8 . . .because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Hebrews 12:9 - Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

Elder qualifications relating to parental discipline:
I Tim. 3:4 - He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.
Titus 1:6 - An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.

Other related scripture:
1 Samuel 3:13,14 - For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, 'The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.' "
1 Kings 1:6 - His father had never interfered with him by asking, "Why do you behave as you do?" He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.
1 Samuel 15:23a - For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

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