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What Does the Bible Say About Discipline of Children

QUESTION: What does the Bible say about discipline of children?


What does the Bible say about discipline of children? When we hear the word discipline, we often picture spankings, being told to stand in the corner, or punishment by the withdrawal of some favorite activity. Yet the New World Dictionary, 2nd edition lists "treatment that corrects or punishes" as fifth in its definitions of discipline. If we look at discipline from a biblical perspective, the words disciple and discipleship come to mind. Picture Jesus and His twelve devoted followers or disciples. This helps us to approach biblical discipline from a more positive stance. Jesus' disciples were dedicated to modeling His ways and learning from Him. As parents, we are dedicated to developing our children into all God intends for them to be.

What does the Bible say about discipline of children when they are infants? Before children are born, parents invest time and money in classes and books in hopes of preparing for their blessed event. Upon arrival those joyful parents are faced with the realization that while babies are a bundle of joy, they are also a bundle of needs. As infants vocalize those needs we remind ourselves, "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him" (Psalms 127:3). As God's gift, He has entrusted us to help these little ones develop and to fulfill His plans for them. If we really love our children we need to discipline them early and consistently.

In the Scriptures, Paul refers to Timothy's discipline and training by his mother and grandmother. "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from who you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Early discipline will begin to develop a character that reflects self-control. Then when children are old enough to crawl they learn to immediately stop whatever they are doing when told "No!" Just as Jesus' disciples looked up to Him for every word, these tiny ones look up to their parents as their Provider. Fortunately when the Lord gives us a task, He always provides guidance in how He would like it performed - using Jesus as our model.

What does the Bible say about discipline of children when they are young? The struggle for a child's heart begins at an early age. When parents fail to establish themselves as authority figures in their young child's life, they encourage rebellion as that preschooler grows older. Children can be very manipulative and appeal to a mother's gentle and tender nature. We are reminded that "the rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother" (Proverbs 29:15). We must never avoid the momentary unpleasantness of discipline. The wise parent expresses both discipline and affection with equal promptness and measure. ". . .My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves..." (Hebrews 12:5-6). The happiest and most secure children are those whose parents work as a loving team to nurture and direct their children in appropriate biblical conduct.

What does the Bible say about discipline of children and obedience? Whether children are natural, adopted, step, or foster, they are all familiar with the consequences of disobedience. God was very decisive in dealing with Israel's obedience and disobedience throughout the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 28 speaks in detail of blessings and curses that result from choices. Our children must learn that God disciplines us in order to lead us, correct us, teach us, and train us to be righteous. Biblical discipline is what enables our children to keep God as their guiding force in all their thoughts, attitudes, and even play. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right...that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth" (Ephesians 6:1, 3).

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