What Does Scripture Say About Disciplining Children?

Scripture says that if a parent loves his child, he will correct him when he is out of line. A loving parent will guide and teach their children. The Bible adds that if you neglect to train and teach your child, you don’t love your child (Proverbs 13:24) These are powerful words for parents.

It is loving to discipline a child because the benefits of discipline will give a child hope, help him make good decisions, and help him live a long and peaceful life (Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 6:23, 10:17, 12:1, 15:5, 15:32, 19:18).

Discipline brings hope, life, peace and character to a child because it drives out foolish notions such as “The world revolves around me. I am the most important and I must have my way. No one else matters.” Through loving discipline, a child can take the focus off him and look outward to develop empathy and respect for God and others.

It is a failure to love a child if a parent ignores issues rather than addressing them directly. A lack of discipline wrongly teaches children that there are no consequences to their choices. A child who grows up with no or little discipline may become an adult who struggles with self-control, anger and respect for others (Ephesians 6:4.) He will most likely be demanding and self-centered as an adult. The Bible says that a person who rejects discipline will end up in shame and poverty. He will be stupid, act foolishly and lead others astray. A rejection of discipline also reveals a person who hates himself or herself (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1, 13:18, 15:5, 15:32).

Discipline is necessary because it motivates us to change for the right reasons. It gives children the right tools to live responsibly in the world. Neglecting discipline is a failure to love children well and it also prevents parents from experiencing the delight and peace in seeing their children have contented lives ( Proverbs 29:17 .) Parents who recognize their own issues related to discipline1 can face those issues and, through consistent discipline, lovingly offer a safe place for children to grow and mature.

Recommended reading: Boundaries With Kids by Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud, Making Your Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman. RBC booklet: How Can A Parent Find Peace Of Mind?

  1. The following are some possible reasons why a parent finds discipline so difficult:

    Discipline requires a lot of time and patience. Depending on the age and level of understanding of a child, it may be necessary for parents to explain what the child did wrong, why it was wrong, and the consequences that he or she will have to live with. This takes a significant amount of time. Unfortunately, because of busy and stressful lives, letting issues go is easier than addressing them directly.

    Discipline also requires good judgment. Parents need to be able to quickly assess a situation, decide on the important issue(s) to address and develop an action plan that will work. Parents need to know their child and understand what consequences they can handle and learn from. It can be hard at times to have to think quickly and use accurate judgment in heated situations.

    Parents sometimes feel that their efforts at discipline are futile because their children continue to wrestle with the same issues. A parent may be tempted to give up because it is exhausting to address problems over and over. But giving up sends a message that the child is not worth the effort of influencing him to become a responsible person (Proverbs 29:17.)

    Also, parents who suffered abuse as children can often find it difficult to discipline their children. Because of the cruel way their parents treated them, they confused abuse with discipline. Now as adults they believe that discipline is abusive. They may fear that if they get angry with their child, they could easily cross over into the same abusive patterns their parents practiced. Or, they believe that discipline will damage children’s self-esteem and confidence. Fearing that discipline will scar them emotionally, they let many issues go. Back To Article

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