The Discipline of Children in a Christian Home

christian family stewardship May 28, 2023
Angry mother scolding a disobedient child

Proverbs 13:24 - “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” 



The task of discipline in a Christian home is an important one and should be taken seriously. It is imperative that the parents are on the same page as they come up with a plan and method of family correction. The main objective of biblical discipline is to point your kids to Jesus.


Point Your Children to Jesus

When you’re disciplining, always remember that first, your kids are children of God who have been entrusted as good gifts to you. When tempers are running high and emotions are frayed, it is helpful to vocally remind yourself and your child of this critical fact. Pray with your children, instruct them in the Scriptures, and talk with them about their personal faith as they reflect on their actions (with very young children, a simpler version of this may be practiced). Teach your children about the reality of sin and the conflict between the “old man” (their sinful nature) and their identity as a “new creation” in Christ. Ask them to reflect upon their thoughts and actions: Have they behaved in a manner that aligns with the way of Jesus or the ways of the world?


Have a Plan

Both parents should discuss methods and routines of discipline ahead of time so that there is a plan in place. This plan should include contingencies. For example, what they choose to do in the privacy of their own home may be different than how they would handle a similar situation in a public place (you can’t put your toddler in time-out at a grocery store, but you can leave the building). This way, either parent may discipline immediately and consistently without the other parent present.

Naturally, the plans will change over time; it’s an ongoing discussion. They must adapt as your children grow older, and sometimes similar offenses may require various responses because of the differences between children. We recommend putting your plans in writing and sharing them with your children so that they are aware of your expectations and commitments to seeing them fulfilled. This prevents consequences from being a surprise.

Having a plan also builds confidence in your parenting, both in your personal experience and in the eyes of your children. When you have a plan, you know what you’re aiming for and are less likely to get flustered or thrown off course. And when this happens, your children learn the very important lesson that Dad and Mom mean what they say and will uphold their word.


Don’t Be Reactive

If your children get angry or upset and call you names while you are disciplining them, don’t take it personally. It is very important that you remain calm. If you feel yourself getting emotional or reactive, remove yourself from the situation so that you don’t do or say something you will later regret. Do your best to stick with the plan that you and your spouse built together. If this particular situation has thrown you for a loop – no plan available! – don’t be afraid to postpone discipline in order to talk with your spouse first and get on the same page. Reactivity almost always makes things worse. Avoid it at all costs!


Act Quickly

When you have a plan and are able to implement it, do so quickly so that the child sees the immediate consequences of his actions. This is especially important when it comes to very young children with short attention spans and memories. Calling your spouse because of an “outside the plan” situation should certainly be the exception, not the rule. If you find it is happening more than you’d expected, that might be a clue that your plan needs to be more comprehensive.


Be Consistent

Having a plan for discipline makes it easier for both parents to be consistent and for children to know what will happen if they cross an established line. There should not be a “good cop, bad cop” dynamic in the home, where one parent is more lenient and the other is strict. A child should receive the same discipline whether Dad or Mom is dealing with their situation.


Be Patient

Don’t expect that discipline will cause a change in behavior immediately. For some children, this will be the case. However, many kids will need a lot of reminding and consistent discipline in order to change their behavior. You are playing the long game, and it may take much more time than you think is reasonable or necessary. Commit to it anyway. Some trees must be watered for months and even years before they start showing significant growth. But this is because those early years were full of a root system flourishing beneath the surface where no one could see. Training children is much the same. Don’t lose heart: You may not see the fruit right away, but the roots are growing deep. What you are doing matters.



Above all, make sure you and your spouse are reading God’s Word daily so you know how to walk in obedience in this task of parenting. Spend time reading and researching ways to discipline biblically, and come up with a written plan together that you are both comfortable implementing. Remember, your children are gifts from God to you, and ultimately belong to Him to be used for His glory. Use your discipline to point them to Jesus!


Key Points

  • Discipline is a very important task for Christian parents.
  • Having a written plan that both parents develop is key to successful discipline.
  • Remember your children are God’s children first, and your ultimate goal is to point them to Jesus as their Savior.

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