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What Does the Bible Say About Disciplining Your Children?


How do you discipline your child? Do you ground them? Put them in time out? Take things away from them? Are you a conscious discipline type of parent? Do you spank your child? To follow that, how were you disciplined as a child? Often times we make decisions on how we parent our kids, according to how we were raised; whether that means we do the same thing that was taught to us, or we specifically choose not to do something we experienced and didn’t like or agree with.

Parenting is no easy task…I mean like, it’s seriously hard! You will not find a handy Pinterest checklist with all the answers to the decisions you’ll have to make on a daily basis. However, the Bible DOES have everything we need to guide us in how to raise our children. It would be nice if it were all written out with a YES or a NO to all the questions we would ever have; but then that wouldn’t drive us to the presence of God, both by getting into His Word and being in prayer. In all areas of our life, parenting included, God wants to be right in the center of it all. In fact, He wants to be our Guide. Often times, we tend to search online for the answers, phone a friend, find a book for that; basically, we can fall into a trap of worldly advice that seems sound, but we don’t back it with what the Bible says. And often, when the Bible is quoted, it is taken out of context, leaving more confusion, questions, or distorted views.



When deciding how to correctly discipline our children, we need to go straight to the Word. I’ve heard many people use the phrase, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” as an argument for how to discipline; but that phrase isn’t biblically correct. It was coined from a poem written by Samuel Butler called, Hudibras. What it was most likely pulled from though, is Proverbs 13:24.

“The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.” HCSB

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” NIV

“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” NKJV

In the Bible, a rod is a symbol of authority. Moses had a rod. David had a rod. Shepherds had a rod. It was a tool to be used to guide, protect, and correct. When we love our children, as a shepherd loves his sheep, our heart is to protect them from harm, to keep them accountable, and to correct and guide them in the way they should go. That is the authority and the responsibility of a shepherd, a leader, a parent.

Another thing to note about a shepherd is his compassion for his sheep. When one begins to stray, a shepherd does not start beating them with the rod. When a sheep falls in a hole or is stuck and needs help, the rod is an instrument of help that is extended to pull the sheep back to safety. It becomes a sense of comfort for them. Even David says the rod comforts him. “Your rod and your staff – they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4b HCSB

Why would it be comforting? Because we can rest in knowing it is for our own good, for growth, for direction, for wisdom to learn right from wrong.

Proverbs 23:12-15:

“Apply yourself to instruction and listen to words of knowledge. Don’t withhold correction from a youth; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. Strike him with a rod, and you will rescue his life from Sheol. My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will indeed rejoice.” HCSB

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death. My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed.” NIV


Three Steps to Knowing How to Discipline Correctly


First off, I will not tell you whether or not to spank your child or any other form of discipline. I will only guide you to the Word and encourage you to pray about it. I can share what we do, but it may not be what you do. And that’s okay. We are all here doing the best we can as parents, and seeking discernment in what that should look like. Personally in our house, we do spank our children. That is not the only form of discipline we use. The different forms of discipline we use changes according to age and situation. We have grounded, put in time out, taken things like electronics away, canceled plans with friends, etc. There have been times where a solid, serious conversation does the job. But discipline itself, regardless of the form, is necessary for wisdom, understanding, and growth.

We want to have conversations with our children to make sure they understand what it was they did that was wrong. Sometimes we discuss what they could have done instead; and we always want them to know we love them and our hearts are to see them follow the Lord. With that said, here are three steps for knowing how to discipline your children correctly.


1. Pray for wisdom.


All throughout the Bible, undeniably all throughout Proverbs, you will find the call to wisdom and understanding. Wisdom is compared to honey. It is to be what our house is built upon. It’s what sons and daughters should heed to from their parents. Wisdom comes with many advisors. The lack of wisdom is our downfall. As a parent, wisdom and understanding is vital. It’s key to parenting our children in the way they should go.

Prayer seems like an easy answer to toss around for every question. However, it’s exactly what we should be doing in every situation. That is our direct line to our Father, our personal Shepherd, our Creator. He tells us in His Word, that if we ask for wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit, it will be given to us. Mama, it’s right there! We need to hit our knees in prayer on behalf of the incredible Shepherding job we have been given to raise our children. It should never be taken lightly. If we are not on our knees in prayer, we are doing our children a disservice. There is incredible power in a praying mama. Why?! Because a praying mama is calling to her God for wisdom and understanding. She is lifting her children to the Lord, and He will show up. When we ask God to show us how to correct our children, He takes delight that your heart is seeking Him, and He will guide you.


2. Know that your role as a parent involves disciplining your children.


There are two dangerous areas when it comes to disciplining our children. The first is to not discipline them at all. Playing best friends with our children, when they are young, will not lead them to take motherly and fatherly correction. We are called to train them in the way they should go. That is a command. It’s the difference between obedience and disobedience.

“A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother.”  Hebrews 29:15 HCSB

“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” NIV

The other danger in disciplining our children is to abuse that authority. The Bible warns parents of abusing their power and authority over their children. It will stir up anger in them as well as discourage them.

“And fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

We should always discipline in love, with our hearts in the right place; and with a goal of redirecting them in the instruction of the Lord.


3. Have a heart of repentance and a willingness to learn.


As a parent, we want what’s best for our children, but we don’t always make the right decisions when it comes to guiding them. We make mistakes, act in anger, ignore when we need to stop and spend time on a situation. We can be lazy at training as we should. The list goes on. And have you ever had to apologize to your child? I know I have, many times. It’s not easy, but it’s important to humble ourselves and show our children we are not always right. I have acted out in haste or anger more times than I’d like to admit. When these things happen, we need to repent with a sincere heart, ask for forgiveness, and jump back to number one where we seek God’s wisdom as we grow as a parent. And just as we guide and correct our children, God also does the same for us. 

“Do not despise the Lord's instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a a father, the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11-12



My Encouragement to You!


Be diligent, mama, for the training time is short, and the effects are for eternity. I am praying for you, as I know your heart is to disciple your children well. And within “Discipline” you have “Disciple”. They must go together, and they must be done with intentionality. I want to leave you with more verses to consider. I challenge you to set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and have time in the Word and in prayer for wisdom and understanding as you raise Kingdom Impacters. Take the verses I have shared above and write them down. Take the ones below and do the same. Look them up, study them in the context of scripture; and as you do, God will give you wisdom on how to discipline your children. The world’s advice is foolishness, but God’s Word is living and active, and will increase your understanding if you take the time to seek it!

"Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" Hebrews 12:7

"So know in your heart that just as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you." Deuteronomy 8:5

"Foolishness is bound upon in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him." Proverbs 22:15

"Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." Proverbs 19:18

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged. Colossians 3:20-21

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that is may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. And fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4

"Foolishness is tangled up in the heart of a youth; the rod of discipline will drive it away from him." Proverbs 22:15

"A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a mocker doesn't listen to rebuke." Proverbs 13:1

"Discipline your son while there is hope; don't be intent on killing him." Proverbs 19:18

"My son, do not take the Lord's discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives. Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline - which all receive - then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn't we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:5b-11

You can also click here to download your printable copy of discipline verses! And be sure to pin this for later!



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