Thoughts on Child Discipline

Dealing with the behavior of children is a tricky thing. It is complex. It is ongoing. It is crucial. It differs for every family and with every child. No two children can ever be treated exactly the same and therefore both discipline and affirmation will look different when applied to different kids. That said, I believe there are some key points to remember with both. This topic is far too deep (and far too important) to try to summarize in one post and therefore it will be a topic I return to regularly.

However, even with the enormity of this subject, I challenged myself to be succinct with what I believe are the main “to remember” points. I pray that these will be brought to my mind on a daily basis.

When disciplining a child, always remember:

  1. Kids are kids. “Foolishness is bound to the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15). This is a fact. Time, maturity, and diligent parent training are the cure...not our angry words.

  2. We must have realistic expectations for our children, based on their age, ability, level of tiredness, and level of hunger.

  3. Child training doesn't take place in a moment. It takes place over hours and days and weeks and months and years. Don't be surprised to hear yourself saying the same things over and over again. How many times does God have to tell you something?

  4. Discipline must not just be reactionary (they do the behavior, we react). Scripture tells us that there are four types of discipline: teaching, rebuke, correction, training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Two of these are proactive. Two of these are reactive. You must make sure both kinds are taking place in your home.

  5. Discipline and training must be consistent. There is no excuse to ever simply ignore bad behavior.

  6. That said, often a gentle reminder or a quick compassionate glance can be enough to remind the child. There are many ways to discipline and we need to pray for wisdom and discernment for which is the best method at a particular moment.

  7. There is a big difference between disciplining for inappropriate behavior (behavior that goes against Scripture, including the command to obey mother and father) and disciplining because we are annoyed and/or inconvenienced. One is crucial. One is selfish.

  8. The purpose of discipline is to help the child grow in Christ-likeness, not to “get them to do what we want.” Discipline needs to be done in a way that the child knows and understands that our unconditional love for them motivates our discipline.

  9. We can never expect a child to display behavior that we don't consistently model.

  10. There always needs to be forgiveness offered freely and easily.

Child discipline and training is not optional. It is a Scripture-mandated job of parents. It isn't something that can be simply overlooked or passed off to teachers, principals, other parents, counselors, or Sunday School teachers. As parents, it is our job. It isn't always easy. It definitely isn't fun. However, one of the outcomes of diligence in this area is being able to truly enjoy our children and to be excited in knowing that they enter the world beyond our homes as a blessing to others. “Even a child is known by his actions, whether his conduct is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11).

Please, please come back on Monday when I share the other side of the coin: affirmation. We must affirm our children. We must recognize and voice the good we see in them. Discipline without praise and affirmation will lead to an obedient-- but dead-- soul. A dead soul cannot love. A dead soul cannot give. A dead soul cannot empathize or sympathize . A dead soul cannot feel or recognize happiness, even when it is right in front of them. A dead soul cannot grasp that there is a heavenly Father that loves and cherishes them.

And that, my friends, is a scary, scary place.

5 thoughts on “Thoughts on Child Discipline

  1. Antoinette

    I agree with you that it’s not fu. To do, but so very necessary.. Experiencing frustration with disciplining my daughter, but with patience and love I know we’ll find a solution. Thanks for sharing valuable advice. Hugs (( ))

  2. JennV

    Thank you. Best blog post on children I’ve read. Couldn’t be any closer to his I want to raise my boys. Bookmarking this as I know I will need the reminding.

  3. Rhadonda

    Loving your new sight. I am referring as many parents as i can! Thanks for sharing honestly and from the heart and holding nothing back. We need that even more so as The Day approaches. Thanks my friend.

  4. Janet Post author

    Thanks, everyone, for your kind words. I want so much for this generation of mothers to see their high calling and to take part in raising up a generation that really can change the world.


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