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How Should A Christian Discipline Children

QUESTION: How should a Christian discipline children?


How should a Christian discipline children? Regardless of how well-informed parents may consider themselves, their children's attitudes constantly test their disciplinary techniques. When a child misbehaves, parents review their cache of disciplinary strategies: frowns, reprimands, the trusty removal of a valued toy or activity, etc.

Parents tend to sigh in relief when they find an efficient formula for discipline. By using that now-proven method, they can anticipate a satisfactory response each time. In the process, however, the focus may shift away from considering God's role in the discipline process. Christian parents desire God to work through them "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13). Christians administer discipline by allowing God to be their starting point rather than an afterthought.

What is the starting point when determining, "How should a Christian discipline children"? Parents must first examine their own character. Children learn by example and by observing godly attitudes in their parents' lives. Consistency is the first step towards successful results. If a child is reluctant to perform their chores, they may not comprehend the concept of servanthood in their family. Is serving taught in a home where the father defers all household chores to the mother? Or is rudeness or disrespect modeled in a mother's phone conversations and "innocent" gossip?

The purpose of any discipline is to leave an impression. The purpose of Christian discipline is to leave an eternal impression. "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is great than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him" (John 13:15-16). Imagine Jesus modeling service, humility, and obedience with one gesture! Christian discipline is not sporadic, depending on convenience or circumstances. Whether in public, at grandma's, or at home, the process should be consistent. Correction and instruction will then be opportunities for God to work through parents in any situation. Consequently, the discipline process requires significant time and commitment.

How should a Christian discipline children using forgiveness? Poor discipline manipulates a child by using cruel words and threats. For example, the thermometer is reading 100° outside and the air conditioner has ceased to function. The dog just wiggled under the fence and your husband is home with the flu. Little Susie whines, "I'm hot! I want a popsicle!" for the tenth time. You finally snap, "I'm hot too and sick and tired of your whining! Now shut up and go to your room!"

Minutes later you begin to calm down and feel miserable and guilty. Fortunately, there is a right response to a parent's wrong behavior. Susie needs to hear that she deserved correction, but not a cruel response. Christian parents are not perfect! We makes mistakes. The difference Christ makes is in giving us grace and His example of forgiveness. By taking the time to apologize and reaffirm her love Susie's mother is softening her own heart as well as her daughter's. Then both mother and child can take the opportunity to pray for forgiveness and for God's Spirit to guide them in the future. Our children respect us when we are honest with them. Our children learn to respect God because He is always truthful with them. "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. . ." (John 16:13).

How should a Christian discipline children using spiritual guidance? As you set goals for Christian discipline, there are three key questions you can ask:
  • Why is biblical discipline important to the Lord?
  • Why does He require you to do specific things or to take certain action as a parent?
  • How does the lesson I am teaching coincide with the Lord's plan for my child?
  • Christians use discipline to encourage their child's spiritual nature, not the child's natural instincts. Learn as many ways of responding to your child as you can, while always speaking and acting in love. Then, as children mature, they will reflect the character of Jesus Christ. "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52).

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