The Lord gave only ten commandments for all of life. In the Garden of Eden there was just one rule. Obedience centered around it, and the penalty was clearly spelled out… Long before the sin, God said, “Don’t; but if you do, this will be the consequence.” And when it happened, He followed through… God clearly sets forth His will. He lays out the rules, and He says what the penalty will be before the infraction takes place. When the transgression happens, He follows through. That is the basis for all consistent discipline as it appears in the Word of God. In spite of our sinful failures, we must more and more train our children God’s way.
If you are a true child of God, you will receive the blessings of the heavenly Father’s discipline in this life. So the disciplinary methods that Christian parents use should be the same as God’s. They must use nurture and admonition (or discipline and instruction). That is the kind of discipline that God Himself uses. In Deuteronomy 11:1 (Berkeley), we are urged, “Be mindful of the Lord’s discipline.” Study it, understand it, use it.
A father that [disciplined] his son for swearing, and swore himself whilst he [disciplined] him, did more harm by his example than good by his correction.
Principles of Parental Discipline:
1. To be effective discipline must be consistent.
2. Discipline ought to be age-appropriate.
3. Discipline must adhere to the biblical principles of fairness and justice.
4. Discipline should be child-specific.
5. Discipline should be administered in love and not anger.
6. Discipline should be future-orientated and forward-looking.
7. Disciple must be part of a relationship.
Limiting discipline to behavioral modification by a system of rewards and punishments may be effective in the short term, but may well lead to rebellion in the end. Children are not laboratory rats that can be conditioned by stimuli to behave in a certain way – they are precious and unique creatures of God, who has vested them with personal worth and dignity. If we respect and embrace this larger relational context, we stand a much better chance of reaping a relationship with our child that continues far beyond the childhood and growing-up years.
We might sum up all discipline by saying it means giving the appropriate reward for the conduct. When the conduct (including both attitudes and actions) is good, a positive reward is warranted. When the conduct is bad, a negative reward is in order. It’s really that simple.
Romans 2:14-15 indicates that the conscience is your ally in teaching your children to understand their sin. The conscience within man is always either excusing or accusing. If you make your appeal there, you avoid making correction a contest between you and your child. Your child’s controversy is always with God.
This God-given conscience is your ally in discipline and correction. Your most powerful appeals will be those that smite the conscience. When the offended conscience is aroused, correction and discipline can find its mark.