How to effectively discipline a child

Last Updated on March 19, 2024

Are you a parent that is struggling with how to effectively discipline your child? Discovering the right discipline methods that work for you and your family can be difficult, but setting a few expectations in place, can make all the difference in building a peaceful home.

My mother was a single mom who raised her two children alone. The frustration she felt to provide and care for us caused her at times to be stern and impatient. She was authoritative in her discipline.

As a young mother and follower of Christ I knew there had to be a better, more affirming and nurturing way to discipline my own four children. I knew that yelling, hitting, or pinching seemed abusive. Spanking? No. Disciplining? Yes!

I did not want to repeat the cycle that marked my own young life. I wanted the way we disciplined our children to be biblical and helpful, to build them up instead of tearing them down. So first, we went to the Word of God. Here’s what the Bible has to say about how we discipline our kids.

What does the Bible say about discipline?

The Bible offers us some valuable insights into the importance of discipline in our families and raising our kids. Here are a few key verses that guided our decision into how we discipline.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

This verse emphasizes the significance of instilling discipline and guidance in children from a young age. Just like how we guide our little ones to take their first steps, we also need to guide them on the right path through discipline and love.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11

This verse highlights that while discipline may be tough in the moment, its long-term benefits are immeasurable.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

Whenever we discipline or correct our children, we need to check ourselves and ensure we’re doing it from a place of love instead of anger.

“Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” – Hebrews 12:6

Just like how God disciplines us as His children out of love, we too can approach discipline with a heart full of love for our families.

At the end of the day, we have to remember that when we view discipline as an act of love rooted in biblical teachings, we can bring comfort and guidance as we will be better able to raise our children with faith and integrity.

How do you discipline your child at home

Tips for disciplining children

My husband and I knew that we wanted build relationships with our kids that were both positive and instructive. We agreed never to appear vindictive with any corrective technique that we applied. Therefore, here’s what we decided on how to discipline our children.

We agreed on the following:

  • Set expectations for the children. Discuss the areas where discipline may occur.
  • Disobedience, dishonesty, disrespect will not be tolerated.
  • Enforce proper character builders and behavior with various Bible references.
  • Infringement of the agreed family rules warrants discipline.
  • Different forms of disobedience call for different forms of discipline.  For example, privileges withdrawn, extra chores, or a swat with a small rod/spoon/paddle.
  • Pray with the child.
  • Ideally, the act of discipline should be followed by affirming with a hug, using lots of doses of “I love you,” and closing in prayer.

Knowing the temperament of each child allowed us to discipline them as individuals and not in a “cookie cutter” approach.

Lastly, prayer was our biggest weapon. We fought to empower the children to know God and obey Him above all else.

Parenting is far from easy, and we will constantly need to turn to the Lord for guidance and wisdom on how to effectively discipline a child well. I pray these ideas will help to encourage you as you decide what discipline should look like in your own home and with your kids!

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  1. As your daughter I found this post quite interesting…I'll call you with my "personal" comments! 🙂 As a mother, this was very helpful. As Jaxon is getting older, I am looking for different ways to discipline (something other than the spoon) that can be appropriate in public (Don't want to be 'that mom' on the news…). Got any suggestions?

  2. My husband and I have found that discipline is a longer process than the original form takes. We always sit with our children and explain to them what they have done and why it is wrong. We ask deep questions to find out why they did what they did. The punishment is handed out followed by long hugs and comforting. It isn't easy. Sometimes my hair gets pulled out in clumps, or falls out from stress even if my hands are no where near it. Other days I can't believe these great kids are mine and that God has given me such wonderful blessings. The hardest prayer is praying that God will do whatever it takes to set them straight when they are on a rebellious streak (our teenage daughter in the not so recent past). The ensuing pain is hard on a mother and fathers heart but the glimpse of glory comes when your child moves out of the rebellion stage and starts teaching YOU biblical principles by their actions and words. God is good!
    Have a blessed week!

  3. Rochele Eldridge says:

    Hello Karen! My name is Rochele Eldridge and I just got done listening to you on cd given by my friend Kim. You were speaking to a group of women in Chicago on James 4. I just needed to find you!!! Your testimony and mine are very similar, and I could relate to EVERYTHING that you said. Then I found this post on your blog, and the tears just would not quit streaming down my face as I put this post and what you said together. I came from a very abusive home, and I parent not entirely the same but similar with the yelling and over correction. Please pray for me…I know that anger in parenting is wrong and I know that patience is how we ourselves are brought to Christ, I have read too many parenting books in the past and messed up my first strong willed child by thinking that I could spank him into submission and break his will, only to see clearly through scripture that I was being a Pharisee and tying up heavy loads and putting them on his shoulders…ok so my problem is I know the truth, I know what needs to be done and yet I do the oppisite…pray that I myself would stop listening to myself and talk to myself instead. Pray that I would submit to God resist the devil so he would flee from me in this area of my life. Thank you again so much for your faithfulness to God's word and your honesty of your sins, I find this refreshing in the reformed relm ecspecially, it seems as though reformed people don't like to talk about their failures and shortcomings.
    Grace & Peace~
    Rochele Eldridge