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10 Tips for Parents on Healthy Discipline

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 firstProverbs 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.

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.