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Pastoral 2017

Teaching Your Children Discipline


The book of Proverbs has very relevant and helpful counsels for parents concerning inculcating good disciplines in their children. In fact, many passages in Proverbs are written in the form of fatherly or motherly admonition for children, constituting a vast array of wise counsels for diverse situations that parents would face in bringing up their children. So, I advise all Christian parents to take heed of the counsels of Proverbs for the proper upbringing of their children. In this article, I would like to point you to what Proverbs has to say about inculcating godly discipline in our children.

Parental Responsibility

The actual responsibility of inculcating good virtues in our children lies with the parents. Though many parents know this truth, sadly they have been pushing their responsibility to others so that they pursue their ambitions for a luxurious living. The book of Proverbs has this grave warning to parents who forsake their Godgiven responsibility to provide appropriate instruction and discipline when it matters the most – “but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). So it advises every parent, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” Proverbs 13:24 says, “he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Parents must promptly give instruction and correction to their children. Missing out on relevant instruction and correction when it should be administered is a sure recipe for much sorrow

Methods of Discipline

The word “discipline” in Hebrew (musar) implies both instruction and chastisement. In other words, discipline has to be administered through teaching, rebuke and correction, even the rod of correction. If a child disobeys the parents after being instructed of proper attitude and conduct, steps must be taken to reinforce proper discipline in him through corrective measures, such as rebuke and the use of the rod (cf. Proverbs 4:2, 12; 15:32; 13:24; 22:15). In Proverbs 29:15, we are told that “The rod and reproof give wisdom”. So “withhold not correction from the child” (Proverbs 23:13).

Areas of Discipline

The wisdom that God provides in Proverbs calls out to every parent to “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). The parental duty of nurturing their children also means that they know the right path that their children should go, and be committed to not only pointing them to the right way, but also training them to travel in it.

Proverbs has much to say about what the right path (that the children should go) entails. The following counsels are some pertinent areas of training and discipline that parents should give to the children.

  1. Teach children to fear the Lord
    “My son, fear thou the LORD…” (Proverbs 24:21). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

  2. Teach children to honour the Lord in worship
    In a setting of fatherly instruction, Proverbs admonishes, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10). We must admonish our children to give glory to God for all His blessings just as He prescribes in the Bible.

  3. Teach children to obey parents
    “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). It must always be insisted that parents’ instructions are to be followed. Hence, it is very important that parents make sure their instructions are biblical.

  4. Teach children to respect authorities
    “My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change” (Proverbs 24:21). Our children should be instructed on how to show respect for rulers of the land, government officials, teachers, etc.

  5. Teach children to love neighbours
    “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee” (Proverbs 3:27-29). Instil love and respect for neighbours, especially for those who are needy.

  6. Teach children how to select friends
    “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Proverbs 1:10).

    “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). Friendship that our children develop would either help them in the right way or seduce them into moral and social evils. So, it is important that we guide them with much diligence regarding who they should choose as their friends.

  7. Teach children to guard their minds
    “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. . . . Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:20-23). Teach them not to say or do anything without proper evaluation as to whether it pleases God. Exhort them to regard divine counsels above their own ideas, imaginations and likes

  8. Teach children to control lust of the flesh
    “And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (Proverbs 5:20-23; cf. 5:1-11; 6:20-28). Teenagers and youths must be warned against the allurement of sexual sins, and immoral persons. Say “No” to watching movies which are sensual in content or reading salacious novels with sexually explicit content. Such entertainment will fan the flame of lust in our children.

  9. Teach children to hate gluttony, drunkenness and debauchery
    “Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:19-21; cf. 31:1-6).

  10. Teach your children to watch their words
    “Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee” (Proverbs 4:24). Parents must demand pure language from their children. Honourable and gracious speech is a grand peculiarity of godly children.

  11. Teach your children to work diligently
    “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8; cf. 10:5). We must not allow laziness and procrastination in our children. Insist on diligence and instil an industrious spirit in them.

  12. Teach your children to choose a good spouse
    “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil” (Proverbs 31:10-11). These words are from a mother to her son. Parents’ mutual love and commitment, together with their instruction, must aid children to choose godly lifepartners with whom they can raise a godly generation.



Pastoral Exhortation