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How to Apply Principles of Discipline


In the realm of child discipline, there are five different steps that will allow a parent to learn how to apply principles of discipline to their child.  God has established that child discipline be carried out according to specific guidelines.  When these guidelines are followed, it will found a basis on which He can build a child that is strong in Godly character and wisdom.

            The very first step that must be properly taken to apply God’s principles of discipline to a child is to begin the disciplinary training before birth.  Luke 1:41 gives account of this principle:

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

            Here we are given an illustration in the Bible of when a child responded to voice of those around him before he was born.  We can learn from this instance that although a child is unable to intellectually understand voices or words, his spirit can understand the things he hears.  Therefore, a wise parent will read God’s Word to the child even while he is still in the womb.  A result of this will be a stronger spiritual perception in the child, and he will learn to recognize his parents’ voices.  When the parents speak to the unborn child in calm, gentle voices, the child will also be more responsive to their authority once he is born.  Godly music can be played before the child’s birth as well.  This will result in a calmer and more responsive child who is has a greater musical perception.

            The next step in the area of disciplinary principles is to establish a wise daily schedule.  This should also be done before the child is born.  To do this, the parents should set specific times for sleeping, eating, playing, Bible reading, and other activities that will be a part of the child’s life.  When this is done, it will develop security within the child even before he is born, because the parents will have set these limitations in the daily routine.  These limits on freedom will teach the child contentment at a young age, and when parents know how to limit this freedom, it will benefit and protect the child throughout his life.  As a result of having learned contentment at an early age, the child will quickly develop an spiritual understanding of the basic command that Paul gave Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:8:

And having food and raiment let us therewith be content.

            The third step in learning how to apply principles of discipline is to strengthen communication with the spirit of your child.  Proverbs 6:22 says that when the correct spirit is communicated to a child, it will be the basis for instruction that continues throughout life:

When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

            Therefore, it is very important for the parents to learn to communicate to the spirit of their child.  This is especially important at a young age, because the spirit will override any words that are spoken to a child.  When the child does something unacceptable it is important for the parents not to use an enthusiastic spirit when correcting him.  Instead, a stern spirit should be communicated to the child.  When the same spirit is used to discipline and praise the child, the child will quickly become confused and unlearned as to how he should act.  As a result, the child will develop a wounded spirit that will not respond to the parents.  Another way that the parents can wound the spirit of their child is through improper anger shown toward him, calling the child names, or declaring that the child will never be able to please the parent.  When this is done, the child’s spirit will quickly be broken and a communication barrier will be established between the child and the parent.

            The fourth step that is necessary to properly learn how to apply principles of discipline in parenting is to define responsibilities in the disciple.  Proverbs 6 contains some very important and detailed insight as to how this is to be done:

My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

Proverbs 6:20-23

            In this passage, the son is told to keep his father’s commandments, and to forsake not the law of his mother.  It goes on further to say that the commandment is a lamp and the law is the light.  Therefore, it is very important to understand how the father should command, and how the mother should establish the law. 

First of all, it must be understood that the father should set the foundation for the mother’s law by giving a general command that the family is to follow.  If the father informs the family that they will be getting up at six o’clock the next morning for a Bible study, then he has stated the command.  It then becomes the mother’s responsibility to establish the law for the children so they will be ready at six o’clock for the Bible study.  This would include making sure the children are in bed at an hour that will allow them to receive the sleep they need for the next day.   Her law will also include establishing the time that the children would need to wake up in order to be ready for the Bible study.

            If the father goes beyond his authority in stating the command, and continues to establish the law for the children, the mother will react to the excessive authority shown by the father and the children will become confused because the mother is not giving them the law.  If, however, the mother gives the command and the law together, she will be overriding the father’s authority, which will in turn cause confusion from the children and reaction from the father.  Thus, it is important for the parents to define specific responsibilities in discipline.

This will also be helpful when it comes to the actual disciplinary action that will need to be taken at times during the child’s growth.  If the child rebels against the law of his mother, it is the mother’s responsibility to discipline him.  However, if the child goes beyond the law of the mother and rebels directly against the father’s given command, it is the father’s responsibility to give the discipline.  When this area of defining disciplinary responsibilities is properly carried out, the children will be secure knowing that there is orderliness in the process of carrying out commands and laws given by the father and mother.

The fifth step in learning principles of discipline is to apply the three aspects of correction.  Parents should understand that disciplinary action for misbehavior is not a single time of administering correction, but is instead a relationship between the parents and the child in which continuous instruction takes place.  When this is realized, the parents will know how to give proper instruction and discipline at the appropriate times.

The first aspect of correction is to give proper instruction to the child.  To accomplish this, the parents must learn to transform the child’s natural inclinations, as is  of in Proverbs 22:5:

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

            When the parents are able to transform these natural inclinations that are bound in the heart of the child, they will be “converting his soul” to be receptive to the things of God rather than his own human perception.  Proverbs 14:12 says that “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”  This “way” that is spoken of is the part of the child that must be transformed.  His natural “way” seems to be right in his own eyes, but this “way” will ultimately lead him to destruction.  Therefore, the parents must take personal responsibility to convert the soul by establishing specific guidelines and instructions for him to follow.

            To accomplish this, the parents must learn how to make wisdom attractive to the child so that it will be exciting to him.  Parents should also understand the basic motivational factors that run through everyone’s mind when they are making decisions.  These basic motivations are a desire for gain and the fear of loss.  The child will determine in his own mind what he will gain or lose from the situation, and if it seems to be a “loss,” it will not interest him.  Yet another way for parents to transform the soul of their children is to learn the child’s perspective by asking questions, and listening to them to find out their ideas and goals, and the things that influence them in life.  The parents can then take the information they are given to build character in their life by using the motivational ideas they have given.

            When the child does break a commandment or law that has been given, it is important that the parent ask himself two questions.  First, was the instruction clear?  Second, was he childish or rebellious?  Knowing the answers to these questions before disciplining the child will ensure whether or not the child disobeyed because of confusion or rebellion.  If the child was confused about the instruction, the discipline will be uncalled for in the eyes of the child and will wound his spirit and cause him to develop bitterness.  The Bible warns against this in Colossians 3:21:  “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”   However, once these questions have been appropriately answered, it is important that the parents appeal to the child’s conscience by getting to the very center of the issue.  Because the conscience resides in the spirit of a person, this spiritual communication will not only correct the child, but also will also strengthen the spiritual relationship between the child and parent.

            Finally, the parents should follow the basic steps of correction as given in Scripture.  The foundational basis for Scriptural discipline is found in Proverbs 3:11-12, which says:

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

            First of all, the parents should understand that when they are disciplining their child, they are not dealing with the physical aspects of the child, but with the spiritual aspects.  Therefore, the parents must bind any satanic influence that is upon the child before attempting discipline.  If this is not done, the child may respond to the discipline externally, but will continue rebel in his spirit.  Second, the parents must establish personal responsibility in the child by asking him exactly what he did.  In doing this, the child will see his fault and understand the need for discipline.  However, when correcting the child, it should be done alone and not in front of other people.  This will embarrass him and damage the spirit of the child.

            When disciplining the child, the parents should also reflect grief over the rebellion in the child and seek true repentance from the spirit of the child.  As this is done, the child will understand the seriousness of the matter, and it will appeal directly to his conscience.  The parents should also explain that the only reason they are chastening him is because they love him, and they should emphasize this point so as to win his will without breaking his spirit.  It is important to make sure the child understands that God will discipline him must worse than the parents if the child does not correct the issue at this time in his life.  Once the child’s will has been brought to correction, it is not necessary to continue correcting the child.  Overcorrecting will also hurt the spirit of the child.

            The parents must know the causes of overcorrecting so they will not fall into the trap that Satan has laid in this area.  Pornography is the primary cause for overcorrection because it ultimately destroys spiritual protection, and thus the father cannot properly communicate with the child.  Another cause of overcorrection is alcohol.  Alcohol causes the intoxicated individual to lose control and express anger when correcting.  A third cause of overcorrection is divorce.  If any one of these causes of overcorrection are influencing the life of parents, it will disable their ability to properly communicate with the spirit of their child, and thus break their spirit.  Therefore, before correcting the child, the parent must clear his conscience from any of these first.

            After correction is given, it is vital that the child know that the correction is over.  To do this, the parent who gave the correction should willingly and lovingly comfort him.  Finally, the parent should encourage any needed restitution and help the child fulfill it.  In doing so, it will teach the child responsibility for his actions, and will allow him to know the damage he caused.

            When these steps to properly applying principles of discipline are carried out, it will result in not only a stronger relationship between the parents and the child, but will also establish a grounded foundation upon which the Lord can “build His house.”  The parents will also have learned to follow the command that has been given to them by the Lord to bring up Godly generations to glorify Him.  As a result, the parents and child will receive the His blessings as they seek to honor Him.