A BIBLICAL APPROACH TO THE DISCIPLINE OF CHILDREN
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22.6.
1. Parents must themselves be disciplined.
2. Let your pattern of discipline be that of the Bible. God loves His children and disciplines them. Sometimes His discipline is severe when that is merited. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Heb. 12.5-11.
3. Discipline is always to be an expression of love for the child and be administered with tenderness and patience. It is not wrong for the child to see your strong disapproval and even righteous anger when merited.
4. Discipline must begin early. He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Proverbs 13.24.
5. Discipline must be continuous and consistent. The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Proverbs 29.15.
6. Remember that every child inherits a fallen, sinful nature from their parents. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22.15.
7. Try to emphasise the sinfulness of sin. Sin is against God firstly and against parents or others secondly. Was then that which is good
made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. Romans 7.13.
8. The child must learn that the parents mean what they say.
9. Insist on honesty at all costs and never deceive or lie to your children.
10. Never command a child unless you are ready to enforce the command.
11. Never give in to whining and wheedling, crying and tantrums, when these are expressions of disobedience, sinful anger, or a determination to have its own way.
12. If a child is prepared to flout the parents’ word you must win the first battle or you are hardly likely to win any later ones.
13. Any punishment must fit the crime.
14. We must not provoke our children to wrath. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph. 6.4. Note `nurture’ means
chastening or discipline and `admonition’ means training by words.
15. Realise that, as parents, you will fashion the abiding pattern of a child’s life.
16. Train them up in habits of tidiness, diligence, helpfulness, and politeness.
17. Encourage them to be involved in practical and household tasks.
18. Remember that the welfare of a child’s soul is even more important than the welfare of the body. Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Proverbs 23.13.
19. Encourage Bible reading and prayer as soon as possible and until then do it for them and with them. Do not overload them with long readings and give simple explanations if you can.
20. Be very careful about reading books, papers, magazines, and the use of radio, TV, and the internet.
21. Establish a regular pattern of attendance at services and Sunday School and encourage friendships among Christian families. Be very careful about contacts with non-Christian families. Some are finding that parties, even for 5-year-olds, are sometimes noisy disco-like affairs.
22. Make sure that children have every reason to trust you and then encourage them to trust God and His Word. We cannot give spiritual life or bless them with repentance and faith which are God’s gifts, but there is much we can do by way of instruction and in conversation, to point them in the right direction.
23. Keep them usefully occupied as far as is possible and strongly discourage idleness.
24. Pray without ceasing from before they are born until either your life ends or theirs does. Pray without ceasing. 1 Thess. 5.17.
25. Be encouraged by the text at the top of this article. `Walk in the Spirit,
and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
When walking in the Spirit we shall by Him be led,
Before by grace He called us, we put self first instead,
Just as, when little children, we wanted our own will,
And but for grace imparted, in old age want it still.
But when we grow as Christians, then patiently we seek,
To know the Spirit’s leadings, more grace to make us meek;
Moved by the Spirit’s working, Who does God’s will reveal,
We come to learn from Jesus, as at His feet we kneel.
For He is meek and lowly; God’s will was His desire,
We pray that by the Spirit, we may to this aspire,
That what He works within us, we may work out, by grace,
In character and action, until we see His face.