Child Discipline

The child who is never disciplined will grow up to be selfish and rebellious toward authority. Children should be disciplined any time they defiantly disobey reasonable rules that have been established beforehand by their parents. Children should not be punished for mistakes or childish irresponsibility. They should, however, usually be required to face the consequences of their mistakes and irresponsibilities, thus helping to prepare them for the realities of adult life.

Young children should be disciplined by means of spanking, as God’s Word instructs. New babies, of course, should not be spanked. This does not mean that babies should always be given their own way. In fact, from the day of birth it should be clear to them that mother and father are in charge. They can be taught at a very young age what the word “no” means by simply restraining them from doing what they are doing or about to do. Once they begin to understand what “no ” means, a small slap on their buttocks will help them understand even better when they don’t stop those actions that the parent desires them to stop. If this is done consistently, children will learn to be obedient at a very young age.

Parents can also establish their authority by not reinforcing undesirable behavior in their children, such as immediately giving them what they want every time they cry. To do so is to teach children to cry in order to gain their desires. Or, if parents yield to the demands of their children every time they throw a temper tantrum or whine, such parents are actually encouraging such undesirable behavior. Wise parents only reward behavior that is desirable in their children.

Spankings should not be physically harmful but should certainly generate enough pain to cause the disobedient child to cry for a short time. In this way, the child will learn to associate disobedience with pain. This the Bible affirms:

He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently….Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him….Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you beat him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from Sheol….The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15).

When parents simply enforce their rules, they do not need to threaten children to make them obedient. If a child defiantly disobeys, he should be spanked. If a parent only threatens to spank his disobedient child, he is only reinforcing his child’s continued disobedience. As a result, the child learns not to be concerned about being obedient until his parents’ verbal threats reach a certain volume.

After the spanking has been administered, the child should be hugged and reassured of his parent’s love.