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Discipline guides a child the way a rudder steers a boat and keeps it on course


6: Discipline

6: Discipline


The word discipline can mean to guide or to teach. At times, that includes correcting a child’s misbehavior. Often, though, it involves imparting moral training that helps a child learn to make good choices in the first place.


In recent decades, discipline has all but disappeared from some households, as parents fear that correction might lower a child’s self-esteem. However, wise parents set reasonable rules and train their children to abide by them.

“Children need boundaries to help them grow into well-rounded adults. Without discipline, children are like a rudderless ship​—which will eventually go off course or even capsize.”​—Pamela.


Be consistent. If your child does not adhere to your rules, enforce consequences. On the other hand, readily commend your child when he or she complies.

“I frequently commend my children for their being obedient in a world where obedience is so rare. Commendation makes it easier for them to accept correction when it is needed.”​—Christine.

BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap.”​—Galatians 6:7.

Be reasonable. Balance the child’s age and competence level with the weight of the infraction. Consequences are usually most effective when they are related to the wrong​—for example, misuse of the phone might result in the loss of phone privileges for a period of time. At the same time, avoid making major issues over minor irritations.

“I try to determine if my child has been deliberately disobedient or if he just made an error in judgment. There is a difference between a serious trait that needs to be weeded out and a mistake that just needs to be pointed out.”​—Wendell.

BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Do not be provoking your children, so that they do not become discouraged.”​—Colossians 3:21; footnote.

Be loving. Discipline is much easier for children to accept and apply when they know that a parent’s primary motive is love.

“When our son made mistakes, we reassured him that we were proud of all the good decisions he had made in the past. We explained that the mistake wouldn’t define him as long as he made the needed correction and that we were there to help him do that.”​—Daniel.

BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Love is patient and kind.”​—1 Corinthians 13:4.