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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2 thoughts on “What Does Scripture Say About Disciplining Children?

  1. My heart is breaking. My oldest son and his wife have been separated since January and I just found out this morning! They live in South Carolina and I live in Seattle. My two granddaughters (ages 14 and 17) spent a week with me this summer and never said a word. Apparently, the major problems revolve around parenting issues – discipline, or lack thereof, of their daughters. The mom countermands any consequences the father puts on the girls behavior and the mom says the dad is too harsh. The mom wants to be a “friend” to the girls and spends lavish amounts on outfits for dances and pagent events without telling the dad the actual cost…and the mother-in-law supports this deception! Now the oldest girl won’t have anything to do with her dad and this is breaking his heart. Both parents have “control issues” because they are the oldest and were used to being in charge as they grew up, so they butt heads on many things. I have given the parents books and CDs about marriage but they don’t watch or read them. I feel very hurt that I was not told about their separation, but aside from that, I don’t know how to react. I want to scold all of them, including the other in-laws, for not telling me about this, and yet keep the few lines of communication open. And, I want to tell the girls how much their dad loves them and that he disciplines them because he loves them so dearly. How can I do this? My initial reaction was to post this on their FaceBook pages, but I fear that will make them mad and eliminate me from any future conversations. What do I do?

    1. Hi Jean. What a heart-braking situation. It’s so hard to watch those we love experience pain especially when there doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut way forward. That being said, here are some things to think about. Facebook is a VERY public forum and I think you are right that posting would only serve to strain or even sever relationships. Since you just found out about the separation this morning it might be best to wait a bit before you do or say anything. You’re probably still very raw and hurt but remember the words of the Apostle Paul to the church of Corinth “love never fails” (1Cor. 13). Resist the urge to respond in anger but pray that the love of Christ would fill you fully. There is very little you can do unless you are invited to do so. But one thing you can do is pray. I will pray that the Lord will give you wisdom and patience as you attempt to show the love of Christ to your son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren in this situation.

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