10 Tips for Parents on Healthy Discipline

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As a pastor, I’m consistently asked about disciplining children. I posted on this previously, but decided to revise it some and post again.

There is always special interest in the subject of spanking; whether it was appropriate or not and whether I believe in it or not. While I believe discipline is a personal topic for parents to decide where they land, I do believe there are some principles that are helpful for all parents to follow. I am probably less inclined in this area to talk about what I did and more inclined to talk about the principles I believe are even more helpful.

I have written my basic overall plan for parenting in an earlier post. You can read it HERE. Since I believe the most important thing is that you have a plan for your parenting and where you are taking your children, here are 10 principles I believe can help the discipline part of your plan.

Here are 10 tips for parents on healthy discipline:

Goal set first. Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”  You should understand the reason behind discipline.  You are taking your children somewhere they need to go.

Never discipline in anger. You will say things you do not mean and do things you should not do. Discipline done is anger is rarely productive and usually harmful long-term.

At the time of need for discipline, remember this 3-step process: Stop/Think/Proceed.  The older your child gets the longer you can and may need to take with each step.

Be consistent in your discipline plan. It will mean nothing to the child otherwise.

Pre-think principles, but do not try to pre-plan specifics. You should have some   value-centered, character-based goals you want discipline to promote in your child.  You should avoid declaring what you will do when your child does something specific.  Don’t ever say, for example, my child will never wear his hair long.  You may regret those words someday.

Differentiate discipline for each child. To spank or not to spank should not be as big a deal as what works best for the child. (For more on this see THIS POST.)

Do not make threats with which you are unwilling to follow through. Your children will catch on to that real quick.

Use age appropriate and action appropriate discipline. As a child matures the discipline should mature with them. At the same time, do not overkill a minor incident or ignore a major occurrence.

Always discipline the child for results. Discipline in its concept is not necessarily pleasant, but it reaps a reward if done right.  Hebrews 12:11 says, “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.”

Discipline should never teach a child he or she is unloved. Actually, if done right, it should reinforce the love a parent has for the child. (Hebrews 12:7-10)

If you have something to add about discipline or any specific questions, feel free to comment.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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9 thoughts on “10 Tips for Parents on Healthy Discipline

  1. Many childern learn mot of their behaviours from their parents. Hence, to discipline one's children, it is imporatnt for parents to live a role model life. They should set an example by their acts ad behaviours. Otherwise, children can consider them as hypocrites and may go astray.

  2. Great list, Ron. I would add this one: let your discipline be an affirmation of your love (which is what God does with us). For example, telling your child "I love you so much, that I can't let you get by with that attitude." Or, "You are much to good of a son/daughter, and I love you so very much that I must address this mistake/dishonesty, etc." Parents must remember (especially dads) that we are called to represent the deeper reality of Father God, pointing them to the truths about His love.

  3. This is closely tied to your first point, but I've had to remind myself that discipline is about serving my child and not my pride. Discipline is stewarding this little one that has been entrusted to me. But sometimes I've made discipline about creating a nice, behaved child that I can display as some trophy to others. It's so easy to make it all about my pride.