Why Discipline is Good for Children

It was the first day of school and I was too old for this behavior. An irrational anxiety seeped into my emotions and thoughts. I was only in the third grade, but still, this was not my first first day.

“What if the kids don’t like me? What if the teacher doesn’t like me? What if no one sits by me at lunch?” The flurry of questions pelted my unsuspecting mother in the kitchen.

Mom attempted fielding my anxiety like a surgeon with her patient. However, this patient was not sedated and not responding very well to the operation. Each answer my mother gave simply complicated the surgery. In my third grade mind, the first day of school was surely my last.

That’s when she said it.

Every mother should use those seven deadly words.

“Derek, do I have to spank you?”

She was shocked at my response. Admittedly, I was as well when she recounted the story to me decades later.

“Yes! Please spank me.”

It’s true. My anxiety stricken third-grade mind both accepted and requested discipline.

So she disciplined me.

According to my mother, one spank (firm but not abusive) and I straightened up. She even turned her back from me to laugh because of the immediate change in emotions.

As a believer, I now see a very important God-ordained principle evident in this embarrassing and humorous story.

The Principle of Discipline

Discipline is for our good. It is designed, enforced, and entrusted to us by God.

God administers discipline to his children because he loves them.

Proverbs 3:11-12 says,

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in.” 

Hebrews tell us the purpose of God’s discipline is to bring about holiness in our lives (Hebrews 12:10).

Parents should administer discipline to their children if they love them. 

Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

This verse does not promote physical violence towards children, but appropriate consequences for disobedient actions. Parents are explicitly commanded not to provoke their children to anger (Ephesians 6:4), and are also commanded to love others as they would desire to be treated (Mark 12:31). Hebrews informs us parents discipline their children as “they thought best” (12:10), leaving discretion for parents to apply disciplinary measures.

Children respect discipline when parents administer it.

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!” (Hebrews 12:10)

A child learns respect for authority and consequences for disobedience through discipline.

According to Paul, the command for children to obey their parents is the tangible expression of honoring your father and mother (Ephesians 6:1-3). Disobedience is consequently the tangible expression of dishonoring your parents.

So why should you discipline your children?

God disciplines us because he loves us, and to bring holiness into our lives (Hebrews 12:10).

We should discipline our children because we love them, and desire to bring holiness into their lives (Hebrews 12:10).

Discipline produces respect for authority in our children (Hebrews 12:9).

Discipline is unpleasant and painful in the present but brings righteousness and peace to our children in the future (Hebrews 12:11).

This blog post is a continuation in a parenting series, click here for last week’s post Parenting 101: A Parent’s Role.

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