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What Does the Bible Say About Child Discipline?

QUESTION: What does the Bible say about child discipline?


The Bible has a lot to say about child discipline, particularly in the book of Proverbs. As early as Deuteronomy 5:16, God's will that children should honor their parents is made clear. This command, when obeyed, is accompanied by a promised reward: "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you."

As good parents, we know our children are a gift from God - a gift that comes with responsibility. Our job is to raise them with righteous standards (Psalm 127:3, Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Child discipline, then, is not about punishing wrong behavior as much as it is about setting a course. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Laying a good foundation is essential in raising loving, moral, well-disciplined children.

In the same way that the Bible offers you and I guidance for living our own lives, so it is rich with advice regarding child discipline. Therefore, we need to turn to biblical edicts for child rearing.

First, let's look at what biblical love is not:
It is not love to raise a child who lacks self-discipline and is controlled by his or her desires, whether for attention, food, material demands and entertainment, or seeking to gain something for nothing.
  • It is not love to allow a child to shrug off responsibility for his own actions and not to accept the consequences of those actions. Nor is it love to allow your child to manipulate, control, or justify his or her disobedience.
  • It is not love to carelessly or intentionally provoke anger in your children. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
  • Now let's look at what biblical love is and the proper way to train and discipline a child:
    Love is actively training and teaching our children - diligently (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)! Put consistent and loving effort into being an active parent, daily.
  • Love is providing for your children's physical needs. (2 Corinthians 12:14)
  • Love is applying with faithful discipline (Proverbs 23:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15; 29:17). Discipline with consistency.
  • Love does involve the promotion of biblical teaching to your children early (Psalm 34:11). The best teachings are by example. Children imitate what they see more than they do what they're told.
  • Follow God's pattern, as He disciplines us, for our own good (Hebrews 12:5-11). Be steadfast in correction, yet giving encouragement and praise where it is due.
  • The Word of God, found in the Bible, is said to be a blueprint for life. In it, we are given everything we need to know about being a loving and responsible parent. Parents must realize that undisciplined children who dishonor their parents will eventually bear heavy consequences for their dishonor and disobedience.

    As parents who love our children, it is our parental responsibility to correctly raise our precious children. If we disregard our responsibility to teach them, we are ourselves being disobedient children, dishonoring our Heavenly Father. He loves us, as we love our children, and has entrusted us with their care. As a parent, child discipline is your most important purpose.

    Learn More About Child Discipline!

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