Disciplining God's Way!

"Discipline your son in your early years while there is hope.
If you don't you will ruin his life."
Proverbs 19:18 TLB.


Junior bit the meter man and then he hit the cook;

Junior's anti-social now, according to the book,

Junior smashed the clock and lamp and then he hacked the tree,

Destructive trends are treated in chapters two and three.


Junior threw his milk at mum and then he screamed for more;

Notes on self--assertiveness are found in chapter four.

Junior tossed his shoes and socks out into the rain;

Negation this, and chapter six says disregard the strain.


Junior set dad's shirt on fire and upset Grandpa's plate;

That's to gain attention as explained in chapter eight.

But Grandpa takes a wooden spoon , pulls junior 'cross his knee,

(He's read nothing but the Bible since 1933!)


What did Grandpa read in the Bible?

Spank with a Rod

"Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:15

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Jeremiah 17:9

"He who spares his rod hates his son." Proverbs 13:24

Children are not blank tapes who learn evil from elders. They pick up sin, not only from the environment but it is in their hearts from conception. Children are not little bundles of innocence but Proverbs 51:5 says that they are little bundles of depravity. If they are not trained and disciplined according to God's Word, they can develop into unrestrained agents of evil. Selfishness, violence, lying, cheating, stealing and other such behaviour are some of the foolishness from the vast store in their hearts. Spankings drive these manifestations out of the child's personality lest they become permanent fixtures.

Don't Abdicate Your Duty

"The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother...Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." Proverbs 29:15,17.

Some parents tend to do nothing. Eli the priest failed to restrain his sons and proved the veracity of this scripture.

Grounding, making them stand in the corner, forfeiting pocket money, etc., do not deal with the problem of sin in the heart. Such restrictions are hard to enforce, cause the offence to be remembered for far too long, and can cause resentment to build up alongside of the original foolishness which was not driven out by the rod in the first place.

We fostered an 8-year-old boy for a year. A psychologist suggested we give him a treat at the end of each day if he stayed within the rules. This did not work. If he blew it early in the day, he would be as disobedient and abusive as he liked thereafter, knowing the worst that could happen would be the withholding of a lollie.

His lawyer suggested we write down infractions in a wee notebook, like the soccer referees do. This had no effect whatsoever. Upon being assigned guardianship, I told him that he would now be subject to the same rules as our own children: one spank with the rod across the backside when it was established that he had violated one of the family's rules.

Soon afterwards both he and our youngest son transgressed together at the same time. After questioning, establishing the facts, and explaining the rules again, our son took his spanking. The foster boy was next, and like our own son, he cried before and after the spank, and was very receptive to further instruction and reassuring cuddles afterwards. His first words to me the next morning were: "Dad, you're the best!" He also wrote a card of thanks for the spanking and put it on my plate at breakfast. He was a totally different boy from that point onwards.

Not with Words

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." Proverbs 16:25

"A servant will not be corrected by mere words; for though he understands, he will not respond." Proverbs 29:19

"There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18 RSV

What's wrong with a good tongue lashing? It produces character assassinations which go deep into the soul and do much damage.

Be Consistent

"When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass...you shall not be afraid of him." Deuteronomy 18:22

We must be consistent about spanking whenever an offense occurs. Otherwise, the child learns that it is worth the gamble to sin because the threat may or may not be carried out. This is probably the most difficult aspect of child discipline because it requires disciplined parents.

Keep the rules simple and few. Your children will remember every careless rule you utter and may learn from your forgetfulness that you are not serious, that you are inconsistent, and that you do not keep your word.

The Four 'D's.

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Ephesians 6:1

"Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." James 4:17 RSV

"Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell." Proverbs 23:13,14.

We spank our children for breaking one of the four "D"'s: Disobedience, Disrespect, Dishonesty, and Destructiveness. Just about every wrong will fall into one or more of these categories. Ensure that the guilty party is aware of the rules before spanking for an infringement. And do not use t he rod for childish mistakes or accidents. Our son was playing waiter by balancing heaping plates of spaghetti and meat sauce on his fingertips at shoulder height between the kitchen and the dining room, when he dropped one onto our brand new, light grey, $6000 carpet. It was an accident. It wasn't sin. The rod was not employed, but he sure worked hard to clean up the mess!

It Must Hurt

"Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart." Proverbs 20:30.

If our children do not cry with the one stroke we normally give, then we give another. If they start hollering to raise the roof in protest, not repentance, they get another. Pastor Al Martin tells the story of being whipped by his Pa, then slamming the door as he left the room. His Ma said, "Give him some more, Pa, he ain't sweet yet." Ma referred to him not yet being in sweet submission to his parents' authority. Remember, the objective is to drive out the foolishness. If it is still manifesting itself after the spank by slamming doors, talking back, etc., then the rod has not yet dislodged it.

In Private

Chastisement in public is humiliating, so avoid it if possible. For us it is often a 10 - 15 minute process. We go to the bedroom, collect the rod, then fully discuss the crime. I ask the child to identify which of the four D's were broken, and why I have to spank rather than tongue lash or do something creative like give lollies! There is always an opportunity to plead extenuating circumstances, and if appropriate, no spank is given.

After the rod, there are cuddles and prayer, at which time the child is very open, teachable and receptive. Here is the time to reason with words of instruction and encouragement; but words do not drive out the foolishness which renders the child unwilling to listen to the words.

Without Anger

"Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20.

Spanking is not hitting, beating, or punishing. Punishment is God's domain. Do not let yourself or enemies of the faith equate spanking with violence. Spanking is chastisement, corporal correction, discipline, driving out the foolishness. However, if the rod is given in anger, out of frustration or annoyance, in retaliation, to save face, carried to excess, or done to cause humiliation, then it does become a form of violence. This kind of spanking will breed violence, hate and resentment.


"Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is full set in them to do evil." Ecclesiastes 9:11

"Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction." Proverbs 19:18

In situations of imminent danger and with very young children, you might need to spank first and explain later. But when children challenge defiantly, you must win conclusively. Each of my children has had a go at being disobedient in a way that challenged my authority, that somehow said, "Let's see who's really in charge here." They were surprisingly young, picked the most inconvenient and embarrassing times and places, and could do so with smiles, as if playing a game. I could have laughed and shrugged it off. But when I insisted on obedience and they insisted on disobeying, I knew I had to drive that disobedient foolishness out with the rod. None has ever challenged me in the same way again.

With Love

"If they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail." Psalm 89: 31-33

"Whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a fathr the son in whom he delights." Proverbs 3:11,12.

Do not hold a grudge. If you ever bring up past incidents, use them to illustrate, but not to humiliate.

For the Child's Best Good

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

Spanking deals immediately with the issue; drives the foolishness out of the heart; restores the ruptured relationship; clears the air of the anger, guilt, mistrust, frustration and disappointment generated by the sin; completely settles the issue (although restitution, a separate issue, may be required); leaves no period of grounding or restriction to worry about and reminds everyone of the misdeeds. Everyone can get on with life. Best of all, you know you have just done what is right, and they know righteousness has been upheld. That is very gratifyingly peaceful.


Palmerston North, New Zealand

Craig and Barbara have 5 children, 4 of their own and 1 adopted, and foster many others. Craig educates their children himself at their home in the mornings and conducts door to door sales as the local Rawleigh man in the afternoons, plus market research part-time. He is also the Founder and National Director of Christian Home Schoolers of New Zealand, a nationwide information and advice network.


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