If a child is not disciplined then that child will grow up with a wildness of character which will be displayed in a rebellious life. Our society is increasingly filled with children who have never been properly disciplined. According there is a proliferation of rebellion in the lives of children and those growing into adulthood. But what are we to do?
Who is responsible for discipline?
Parents, and most particularly fathers, are responsible for the proper disciplining of children. God did not give children to the state; he gave them to parents. In Ephesians 6:4 it is the responsibility of fathers to bring the children up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD. If there is a father and mother then they labour together to form wholesome character in their children, but the father is the leader/guide. If there is no father in the family unit then the mother shoulders this responsibility alone. Accordingly, we must remember to support and encourage parents in their God-given duties towards their children.
However, we need to remember that we cannot just take it on ourselves to discipline the children of other parents unless we have the permission of the head of that family.
Why do we need to discipline children?
We need to because children are born with rebellion in the heart. David says behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5). Accordingly as Solomon says a child left to himself brings his mother shame (Prov 29:15a). He also says in Prov. 22:15 foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Parents then have to intervene in the lives of their child to correct sinful / wrong behaviour. And they do this out of love for their children. Any child who is not corrected is a child who is not loved. Proverbs 13:24 says He who spares his rod hates his son: but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
How do we discipline?
- We discipline in the context of encouragement. This may sound strange, but it is a key element ii effective child training. We must seize opportunities to acknowledge and encourage good behaviour in our children when we see it. By this the child will know that we really do care for them and they will know that any rebuking or smacking, which is carried out by the parent, is out of heart of care and not nastiness. This prevents us from exasperating our children (see Eph 6:4).
- There are two main elements to correcting children and those are the rod and rebuke (see Prov. 19:15a). One is verbal and the other is physical. If the child is to be smacked then they must know why? Deciding when a rebuke is sufficient is something of a judgment call. However, the key thing is to judge the state of heart of the child. If there is a defiance in the child’s attitude then the rod is generally appropriate. Defiance is at the heart of all sin and is the driving force for all rebellion. Such foolishness need to be driven from a child and it the rod of correction which will do that (see Prov 22:15).
- In using the rod in discipline we must remember that scripture speaks of it as a means of correction and not humiliation. The child, if possible, should be taken to a separate room and be alone with his/her parent. The matter is between the child and the parent.
- The “rod” should be used not the hand. This means, a ruler or a small stick. When referring to physical correction in Proverbs God always indicates the rod should be used. Using a rod means that there is an automatic safeguard from a parent lashing out with the hand; getting the implement always gives time to consider. Moreover, a rod is far safer than the hand because less force is needed to accomplish the sting that makes the message.
- When the smack has been undertaken there should always be a hug for the child and re-assurance of love. Then prayer should be made to our God that the child will be enabled to keep from wrong in the future.
- Always smack on a safe part of the body such as the bottom so that there is no danger of harming the child.
- In undertaking physical correction wisdom is also required. This is because we are in a society where many wish to bring up children without reference to the scriptures. So we need to wise so as not to be ourselves in undue peril from others.
Things to remember
- Children are created in the image of God. They are God’s gifts to us (see Psalm 127:3) for us to exercise stewardship over. We must show them respect and never abuse them
- Always let your yes be yes and your no be no. Discipline so very easily falls apart because threats are not carried out. If you make a threat you must keep it. If you cannot fulfill a threat then do not make it!
- Parents must work out a strategy together in dealing with their children. In front of the children each should seize opportunity to support the other. Any disagreements should generally sorted out by the parents, on their own, away from their children
Disciplining children using the rod is the most loving form of child discipline. This is because the matter is faced up to straight away. It is dealt with and then family life can continue with wrong dealt with and relationships restored. Remember that as in all things God’s way is best and when we are following the word Of God in disciplining our children we are following the wisest course. Finally, we hate child abuse. We love our children and want the best for them. We must never act so as to damage them.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of September 2006)