7 Keys to Effective Discipline from the Scriptures

Discipline is very vital to the appropriate training and raising kids, preparing them as a vessel fit and ready for the Master’s use. When do you start to discipline children? Are kids really aware of right and wrong? Can we through discipline help our children understand the difference between right and wrong, sin and righteousness? Firstly we must understand that once a child begins to be aware of his or her environment (this is usually about the age of 10 months onwards) it is important that parents establish structures and boundaries for their child; these help to mould the character and personality of that child. Most children, who are born again, come to the knowledge of the saving grace in Christ Jesus from ages 4-14. These are the impressionable years when our kids are in our custody and care.

1- Effective discipline must be according to scripture and prescribed example given by the Lord. This must begin early in the life of the child and within the confines of the offense committed; Discipline must be timely and the scriptures are clear on this matter. This helps the child discern between right and wrong; between those things God loves and despises; and to learn to live a life pleasing to God and being pleasing in His sight.

Proverbs 13:24

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes”. “Betimes” refers to real time discipline or doing this early in the life of the child. There does come a time that it’s too late to discipline your child and it may defeat its purpose.

 Scriptures say in Proverbs 19:18-

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”

Childhood (which you’ll find is not a very long time) provides us the window of opportunity to shape, mould, and form the child to recognise that in his or her world, there are laws, constituted authorities, rewards for positive behaviour and consequences for negative behaviour.

Effective discipline must not be given in a frenzied outburst of anger or frustration against the child. Your child must not see you lose control like that, else the tendency is to learn the behaviour of “pushing your buttons”, which he or she knows will elicit the same reactions from you and which will eventually put him in charge instead of you. 


Discipline given in anger demonstrates a parent’s temper tantrum against the child and this is usually ineffective. When angry, postpone discipline till you have gained control over your own emotions of disappointment or hurt. Chastening with the rod, corrections or rebuke must be given with a clear-cut purpose of gaining your child’s trust and strengthening his or her confidence in your words and build his or her self-esteem and self-worth. Discipline through anger can stir up bitterness in your child’s heart against you. 

In Ephesians 6:4

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

     Colossians 3:21

“Fathers provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” 

Scriptures warn parents against bitter or angry discipline (because this always defeats God’s purpose for discipline and is counterproductive). The crux of the issue is that angry discipline is abuse and lack of love; and abuse meted out to a child is etched in the child’s memory until adulthood, shaping and influencing the child’s perceptions about himself and constituted authority. These are difficult memories whose sting, potency and power to influence your child’s actions in adulthood, can only be denied through the power of God’s Holy Word. (Romans 12:2) When angry do not discipline.


2- Discipline must be fair, consistent and thorough. The end result or outcomes of discipline is to see repentance, turning away from the wrong perpetrated and becoming a better individual. 

Discipline is not punitive but corrective. After discipline look for repentance in your child, teach it to the child. The idea of spanking is not to break your child but to “convert his soul” to righteousness consciousness and thinking.

 Not spanking your child will bred in him rebellion to constituted authority and rejection of the truth of God’s Word in later years. The punishment must fit the crime. If you make light on the crime or wrong committed, your kids will take advantage and repeat the same cycle of bad behaviour. 

Parents or care givers being thorough with discipline, means that sometimes the tears will flow; Remember Proverbs 19.18? No caring parent wants to see their child in pain or hurting, especially when they are the source of that hurt. But discipline is a necessity. 

Revelations 3:19 (TLB)

“I continually discipline and punish everyone I love; so I must punish you unless you turn from your indifference and become enthusiastic about the things of God,”

Proverbs 3:11-12 (MSG)

“But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction, It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this”.

4- Apply and give godly counsel along with the correction. Teach or tell him or her why he or she is being disciplined so that he can gain the understanding and know that it is done out of love and not resentment.


Proverbs 29:15

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” 


The rod here does refer to physical chastening, spanking or physical punishment, “reproof” refers to verbal counsel, warnings and instructions.


Ephesians 6:4

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”


To “nurture” our children is also a part of physical discipline; to “admonish” them is to counsel and provide further guidance and direction on the incident that happened and how to avoid letting it happen again. 


  • Discipline must be consistent or else it will not work. Your kids must know and expect that there are consequences for wrong doing and rewards for right behaviour. Discipline provides a sense of stability, grounding and security for the soul of the child. Without discipline children grow up lawless, degenerate and godless. Children grow up with a holistic and balanced sense of being when they know what is required of them and recognise that on this side of heaven, there are physical and spiritual boundaries and laws that establish stability, culture and cultivate character and influence their personality for excellence, ability and grace.


Consistency in discipline produces predictability in your response to good behaviour and lack of it and your kids must have this engrained in their consciousness and sub-consciousness. They must see and reverence you as the example of God the Father in their lives. The way your kids see you matters in their attitude towards God and His Word. This takes time and work so the child is not set up for a life in the downward spiral.


  • You must insist on first time compliance to discipline. If they haven’t complied the first time, they haven’t complied at all. Deferred or lingering compliance is not compliance. Teach your kids the definition of compliance. I have through Pastor Chris’ teaching defined Compliance as, “Doing God’s things God’s way and in God’s timing.” Or doing what you are told to do, how you are told to do it when you are told to do it with the urgency, passion, joy and the right attitude”. It is in obeying their parents that kids learn to obey God, constituted authority and social laws.


 Teach your kids to respond to you the first time you speak to them (Not to the high pitch of your voice, screaming at him or her); there must be a healthy reverence in doing this, so they learn to respond promptly to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit even when you are not there and this vital ministry of the Holy Spirit can save their lives and the lives of others connected to them. 


If a child rejects compliance or corrections the first time, he or she is demonstrating traits of self-will, wilful and flagrant disobedience to authority and rebellion. This must be dealt with decisively and in love, so the child does not simply live a wilful life of selfishness, unconcern and disregard to constituted authority and others. Parenting is the most intensive form of leadership in the world and we must not let our children down.


God testifies of Abraham as a responsible parent in Genesis

18:19 –

“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment…” KJV


“Yes I have settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly….” MSG


“And I have picked him out to have godly descendants and a godly household—men who are just and good—so that I can do for him all I have promised.” TLB


This is an outstanding testimonial of God about Abraham and a prescribed mandate that deal with our precarious role as parents, teachers, leaders in the lives of kids. 





7- In effective discipline practise quick forgiveness for your child’s bad behaviour. Do not rehash bad behaviour or repeat it verbally to the now repentant child. Do not remind your kids about incidents that caused them shame, eroded their confidence or where they fell, failed or acted less of themselves. Always glorify and celebrate their inherent good abilities. 


Practise responding rather than reacting to your child’s lack of wisdom. Always stay the course of consistent discipline and action. Don’t back down or reveal your strategy to your child. Leave the responsibility in his or her court for his or her compliance. Do not adopt harassing, threatening, warning or shaming or put-down stances. Stay calm and in control. God’s Word is your back-bone and strength.

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