What is the right way to discipline a child? This is a question with a hundred answers. There really is no specific method to discipline a child if you ask all the parents out there. But if you rely on the Bible to find the answer, you'll see that God was very specific with how he wants you to train and discipline your child. So, how do you discipline a child according to the Bible?
God Disciplines His Children
Before we talk about the details, it is important to refer to this important set of verses first. Hebrews 12:4-11, says:
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.'
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Characteristics of Biblical Discipline
As you've read in the verses above, God approves of disciplining a child. It also says that discipline is a hardship one must endure. It isn't pleasant, it's painful, but it is worth it in the end. So, how exactly does God want you to discipline your child?
1. Take Action
It is a must to discipline your child, especially if you see that your child is doing the wrong things. God calls you to take action. If you need to ground your child, do it. Do what you think is necessary to teach your child a lesson, just don't abuse your power and authority. Some parents can make the mistake of treat their children as if they are the boss; they are afraid of their kids getting mad at them. The Bible says discipline will be painful for a parent, so just accept it if your child will get mad at you for a few hours. You know deep in your heart that you only mean well, and your child will too once they get older.
2. Action and Words
For discipline to be effective, there must be a good balance between actions and words. Parents must be able to perform disciplinary actions, but also explain to their child why the punishment is necessary. Discipline without explanation is pointless. You can't just tell your child that he did something wrong and end it like that. Remember, disciplining your child is not just for the sake of punishment, but you want them to learn a valuable lesson.
3. Love equates to consistency
The concept is pretty simple. If you love your child, you have to discipline them, and you must be consistent about it. You may be surprised to know, but children understand the basic concept behind punishment. They know they did something bad, and you won't let them get away with it. They actually know that this is because you love them. When parents do not pay attention to their kids or don't even care if they're being naughty, that is more of a sign that the child is not loved.
Apart from this, you must be consistent with your discipline. You can't just say your child is grounded for two weeks, but let them off the hook after three days. What does that say of you? There can be the desperate feeling of always wanting to be in a good relationship with your child, and so you end up compromising. However, this is counterproductive. Follow through your discipline, be consistent. When your child becomes an adult, they will embrace consistency in their life too.
4. The end goal is obedience
You discipline your child not because you want them to fear you. You discipline your child because you want your child to be obedient. You want your child to understand that rules are there for a reason. And more importantly, you want your child to be obedient to you (the parents) because this will eventually reflect their obedience to the Lord. If your child can respect your rules at home, then they won't have a problem understanding the rules of the Lord. Obedience emcompasses love and trust.
Listen to what God is telling you – you must train up your child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). If you love your child just like how God loves you, do not fear or hesitate in disciplining your child. Remember these characteristics of Godly discipline and treat it as a guide the next time you deal with a misbehaving child. Also, keep in mind that discipline is not instilling fear in your child, but instilling values that they can live with as they grow older. It's short pain for a longer gain.