CHRISTIANS How Should You Discipline Your Child?

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On a deeper level, where a young one’s character is formed, children want to be told what they can and cannot do. They need guidance to help them adapt to the world without becoming part of the world. Children need to look to their parents for this biblically guided direction throughout their childhood. If parents are inattentive, indifferent, or over-indulgent, is there any wonder that a child loses love and respect for them? How can a child continue to view the parents as a loving, kind, authority, who continually fails to offer biblically sound guidance, while continually giving them their way and conceding to the child? Young ones need a lot of parental guidance and love in their lives. However, some parents confuse permissiveness (allowing the child great or excessive freedom of behavior) with love. Rather, they need to supply them with sturdy discipline they require and unknowingly want. This means giving wisely of yourself, your experience, and judgment. Therefore, we do not hold back discipline from our children. We offer a loving pat on the back to allow our children to know we are proud of them and approve of their behavior. In addition, a loving pat on the back only lower on the but is never going to hurt the child but rather is a loving way to let our children know we disapprove of their behavior. Both of these will let the child know of our love and concern and that we care for them. The following Proverbs emphasize the wisdom of the use of discipline: Proverbs 3:11, 12; 4:1; 13:1, 24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13, 14.

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However, spanking is not always the answer when we are disciplining our children. Moreover, spanking is never done in anger, or is it ever abusive. Spanking a child is not to cause pain, it is to get the attention of the child, so we can offer sound biblical guidance. We need to have good judgment, composure, wisdom, and a little good sense on our part as parents. Our facial expressions are reflective of what message we want to send our children. A warm, loving smile of approval is very persuasive, little children cannot resist it, just as is true of a frown of disapproval. However, we should never scold our children. Scolding is abusive criticism. What we need is the correct level of tone in our voice, so our child knows our intent and that he or she has done wrong. Most importantly, a child should know that they have done bad not that they are bad. First, we need to inquire about the guilt of what we believe the child has done wrong without jumping to conclusions.

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For example, think things through. We allow our child to scribble in certain books and our children see us making notes in our Bible, so one day Johnny is holding our Bible in Church and we look down to find him scribbling in our Bible. You lean over and firmly say, “Johnny, don’t scribble in the Bible, or else you’ll be punished!” While that makes sense to us, is it clear in Johnny’s young mind? We have allowed him to make marks on other books. He sees us underlining our Bible, so in his little mind the thought is simply, “Why not this one?” So, when we are training our child, we do what the Father, the Creator has done for us. The Father has given us sixty-six Bible books as a guide to how we are to walk through this imperfect age. He has thoroughly and clearly explained all that we need to know, especially the all-important “why.” We need to not only correct our children, but we need to explain the reasons “why,” which persuades and builds appreciation as to the why. We might say to Johnny “This book [the Bible] is a loving letter from our heavenly father, we can make study notes in it, but we never want to damage it with scribbling, as it was a loving gift from our heavenly Father. It is different from your other books.” Ask the child if they understand and if time permits, ask them to explain back to you what you just told them in their own words. We need to give them a reason for our instructions and we need to make certain that they understand that reason. A spanking is not always the answer. Moreover, remember, the firm, loving tap on the but is only to get their attention. In short, another example of being too permissive might be a time when we are walking through the mall and Johnny is running his plastic toy car over the new cars in the mall. We might think nothing of it because we feel the plastic car cannot hurt anything. However, what about when it is a different day and Johnny is holding your car keys and does the same thing and now we find ourselves paying to paint a new car.

Permissiveness, excessive freedom of behavior, easily leads to future bad behavior. The greatest gift that a father [or mother] can pass on to his [or her] son is wisdom and the longing for continued wisdom.

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