Disciplining Children

Mentoring Tips

Make one-to-one mentoring easier by learning what to do and what not to do.  Click to learn more.

Tip#1 – Find your PLACE

  • Pray: simple yet powerful act
  • Listen: people want to feel heard
  • Ask: good questions foster productive dialogue
  • Consider: think slowly and biblically
  • Encourage: uplift rather than beat down
Tip#2 – Avoid the common mistakes

  • Fixing: this is a person, not a project
  • Preaching: walk alongside, don’t talk at or down to them
  • Carrying: show concern but don’t carry too heavy a burden
  • Blaming: no condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Rescuing: you are not their savior!
    • Could you tell me how you are currently disciplining your children? What struggles do you face on a regular basis?
    • Are you and your spouse in agreement on how to discipline your children?  If not, can you tell me about your differences?
    • Is the goal of your discipline to change behavior or the heart of your child?  What would you say is the difference?
    • Have you ever disciplined your children out of anger? What can you do to gain self-control and begin to address the anger inside that is being triggered by your child’s behavior?
    • How do your children react to the way you are currently disciplining them?
    • Are you using the same form of discipline on all your children or adapting your approach for each of them?  How is that working?
    • Do you and your spouse regularly pray for your children?
    • How did your parents discipline you?  What did they do that you’d like to imitate as a parent now?  What would you like to do better?
    • What books or other resources have you read to make you a better trainer of your kids?  Are you open to suggestions?
    • How can I help to encourage you today?
Deeper Questions
    • Do you have a God-centered home or a child-centered home?  If your home is child-centered, what steps can you take to make your child a valued member of your family rather than the center of it?
    • Is your child’s behavior accidental or in defiance against your authority? Are there patterns of rebellious behavior?
    • When you hear your child say things that are against Scripture, do you show him truth from the Bible?
    • Do you make the rules and consequences clear to the child before rebellious behavior happens?
    • When your child displays a sinful attitude, do you try to help him identify what is behind that desire?  What is he wanting or craving that might be leading to his attitude or frustration? (James 4:1-3)
    • Is honoring and obeying God a higher priority in your home than temporary happiness?  How do you model this?
    • Have you considered what the consequences would be of letting your child’s behavior go unchecked?
Online Helps
Other Ministry Links
  • - Ted Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, p. 37

    “One of the justifications for spanking children is that ‘Folly is bound up in the heart of the child, but the rod of correction drives it far from him’ (Proverbs 22:15).  The point of the proverb is that something is wrong in the heart of the child that requires correction.  The remedy is not solely changing the structure of the home, it is addressing the heart.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, Grace-Based Parenting, p. 221

    “One of the most ungraceful things you can do is to circumvent the consequences of your children’s sin.  Children learn from discipline and have an internal sense of justice that needs to know they have paid their debt for their infraction and can move on with their lives.”

  • - Lou Priolo, Teach Them Diligently, p. 104-105

    “Be patient and remind yourself often that your child is not being disciplined because he somehow made life miserable for you but because he sinned against God … not because you have been personally inconvenienced but because you love him and want to obey God yourself.”

  • - Ted Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, p. 55

    “God provides the understanding of what discipline is.  Its function is not primarily punitive.  It is corrective … The discipline of a child is a parent refusing to be a willing party to his child’s death (Proverbs 19:18).”

  • - Ted Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, p. 176

    “When your child is old enough to resist your directives, he is old enough to be disciplined.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, p. 35

    “As you parent you must never back off from giving affection.  When your sons and daughters are teenagers, it may feel awkward–but don’t stop.  They still need your loving touch.”

  • - Ted Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, p. 38-39

    “If your child is living as a fool who says in his heart there is no God, such a person doesn’t cease to be a worshipper, he simply worships what is not God.  Part of the parent’s task is to shepherd him as a creature who worships, pointing him to the One who alone is worthy of his worship.  The question is not ‘will he worship?’ It is always ‘who will he worship?’”

  • - Ted Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, p. 20

    “Behavior is not the basic issue.  The basic issue is always what is going on in the heart.  Remember, the heart is the control center of life.”

  • - Susan Yates, And Then I Had Kids, p. 102

    “Our goal in discipline should be twofold: to train in self-discipline and to teach obedience. When our children learn self-discipline at an early age, they will be more likely to withstand the temptations of sin as they grow up … If a child does not learn to obey his parents whom he sees, how can he be expected to obey a God whom he cannot see?”

  • - Susan Yates, And Then I Had Kids, p. 108-109

    “Distinguishing between willful disobedience and mistakes will enable a mother to know how to handle the situation … When you tell your child to stay in the yard and he goes next door, it’s willful disobedience.  When your toddler spills his milk at the table, it’s a mistake.  The consequences for willful disobedience should be firm and swift, whereas those for mistakes lenient and educational.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, Grace-Based Parenting, p. 52

    “It is not in our children’s best interest to give them everything they want, to make life easy for them, to side with them when they are clearly wrong, or to circumvent consequences for their sins … Love is about meeting their actual needs, not their selfish needs.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, Grace-Based Parenting, p. 148

    “Overreacting to your children’s desire to follow a fashion fad—especially if there is nothing morally or biblically wrong with it—could unnecessarily close you off from more meaningful relationships with them.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, High Cost of High Control, p. 222

    “Strong-willed children, if brought up right, can have an incredible impact for God’s cause.  The key to strong-willed children is that they want to have some control of what’s going on in their lives.  Without surrendering one bit of authority as a parent, you can still let them pick what they want from a restaurant menu, the outfit they want to wear, which bed they want to take a nap in, and so forth.  Choose your battles carefully or it will become one high controller pitted against another.  In most cases, you’ll lose.”

  • - Ken Sande, The Peacemaker, p. 30

     “Your children constantly observe how you handle conflict.  If you are defensive, critical, unreasonable, and impulsive, they are likely to handle their problems the same way.  But if you handle disputes in a godly manner, your children will be encouraged to do the same.  What they learn about peacemaking from you may have a profound impact on how they handle conflict at school, in the workplace, and in their own marriages.”

  • - Susan Yates, And Then I Had Kids, p. 111

    “In teaching our children to obey, we must keep in mind that we are building for the future. It may be tedious and unpleasant at the moment, but our goal is an obedient, self-disciplined adult.”

  • - Ted Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, p. 176

    “When your child is old enough to resist your directives, he is old enough to be disciplined.”

Next Steps
    • Encourage them with Scriptures of hope and help
    • Encourage them to remember that they didn’t grow up with perfect parents and their children will not have perfect parents either!
    • Encourage them to get involved in a local, bible-believing church for spiritual growth and accountability as parents
    • Let them know they are not alone, parenting can be frustrating and confusing for many parents
    • Assure them that you care about them and plan to be with them to find solutions together
    • Encourage moms to connect with other moms on the MomLife Today blog
    • Encourage dads to consider connecting with other men in a Men’s Fraternity group
    • Encourage them to invite God into their conversations through prayer every day
    • Encourage them to pray with their children at all ages
    • Encourage them to model obedience and humility by admitting their own mistakes in parenting
    • Remind them that the relationship they have with their kids is more important than any list of rules
    • Remind them that it is important to develop a vision and strategy for the kind of people you want your children to become
    • Encourage them to take responsibility for the spiritual development of their children and to not leave it up to others
    • Remind them that it is important to model Christian principles in addition to teaching them
    • Encourage them to look to God’s Word for principles to address problem’s their children face or decisions to be made
    • Encourage them to read and learn and grow personally by utilizing the resources offered by FamilyLife