Parental Discipline: Training Our Children For Their Good

Big Picture: there are 3 levels of discipline in the Book of Proverbs for parents:

1. Teach
2. Warn
3. Enforce

As parents, we should spend most of our time in level 1 (teach), less time in level 2 (warn), and as little as possible in level 3 (enforce).

“The rod” passages in the book of Proverbs: 13:24; 22:15; 23:13–14; 29:15 (“the rod” includes physical discipline).

Application 1. Pray for your children.
Application 2. Evangelize your children.
Application 3. Use multiple levels of discipline.
Application 4. Love your children, and tell them and show them that you love them.
Application 5. Beware of two extremes: (a) not disciplining and (b) over-disciplining.
Application 6. Fathers, take the lead in discipline.
Application 7. Learn how to discipline each of your children most effectively.
Application 8. Distinguish between family rules and the Bible.
Application 9. Be humble about parental discipline; don’t be proud and judgmental.
Application 10. Persevere with a long-term view that trusts God’s word.
The book of Proverbs teaches the following principles about discipline, some explicitly and some implicitly:
1. Prov. 22:15 states: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him." This general principle suggests that all children need some form of discipline (though not all children may need corporal punishment). Wise parents use the least amount of punishment necessary to curb improper behaviour.
2. The word "discipline" covers a wide range of disciplinary techniques from "instruction" to "spanking." Wise parents use a variety of levels of discipline when encountering improper behaviour and they use them in increasing severity until the behaviour is curbed. Both reasoning and disciplinary techniques can be used to encourage proper behaviour from a child. Wise parents start early with age-appropriate disciplinary techniques and are consistent and diligent in their follow-through.
3. Wise parents encourage proper behaviour by a variety of methods (e.g. relating negative examples of the consequences of sin; explaining, with examples, proper guidelines of behaviour). This is to be done early in a child's life, preferably in a neutral context before the improper behaviour is demonstrated. Wise parents are also cognizant of demonstrating proper behaviour in their own everyday lives, realizing that this is probably one of the strongest means of conveying their message.
4. Wise parents always discipline in love, never in anger, with the purpose of helping the child. Even God disciplines those whom he loves (Prov. 3:12).
5. Wise parents realize that they are not allowed to administer certain forms of discipline; instead, they leave these forms to the appropriate branch of society.
* This sermon owes a plagiarizing debt to “Discipline in the Book of Proverbs: To Spank or Not to Spank?” by Paul D. Wegner; and, “Training Children for their Good,” by Andrew David Naselli.