[I have written another blog more recently about this subject. Check it out here: How to Spank Your Kids the Right Way]
Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.– Proverbs 23:13-14
Because of people who have acted in extremes, we have become a society that frowns upon the physical disciplining of our children. In fact, there will be people that read this blog who will be down right furious that I would suggest that we should do so. But I don’t suggest that we do so, rather the bible commands us to do so.
But before I get into talking about this subject, let me explain what physical discipline is NOT. Physical discipline is NOT beating the tar out of your kid because he hid your cigarettes. It is NOT picking up your child by one arm and carrying them across the restaurant while spanking them on the rear end and screaming. It is NOT punching them or kicking them or causing them to be hurt in any way that would cause harm beyond some temporary soreness. I say this because of the vast amount of abuse that has caused people to get into the other ditch on this subject. But lets not get in the ditch on either end. Lets stay in the middle of the road here.
I personally believe that physical discipline is extremely important. And I honestly believe that if I had been physically disciplined more as a child then things would be easier for me now as an adult. Why? Because physical discipline as a child teaches a child to force himself to do what is right in order to avoid future negative consequences. When you are a child the negative consequences are never as severe as when you are an adult, so its a perfect training ground for you to be ready for the real world. It gives you the chance to mess up and experience negative consequences without any real harm in your future. But if you mess up and never experience meaningful consequences as a child how will you learn for when you are an adult? You won’t. And that’s why our prisons are full and overflowing and that’s why corruption is widespread. I think it has a lot to do with improper discipline as a child.
Now, there is a lot of error when it comes to the world’s thoughts toward children. The world teaches that people are inherently good. They believe that children are born good, and so when you discipline them to cause them to conform you are warping their personality and turning them into robots rather than letting them be individuals. This is not true. And this also baffles me, especially since many of these people believe we evolved through the process of the survival of the fittest. If we are animals who have simply become the best at killing and stealing food from others to survive, why on earth would you think that we would be born knowing how to share, and give, and be thoughtful towards others? No, we need to be taught these things. You don’t need to teach a child how to take. You don’t need to teach a child how to be selfish. You don’t need to teach a child how to be rude. They do it because they have inherited a corrupt body from their parents. Their spirits are pure because they are from God, but their bodies are corrupt because they are from man.
Look what the bible says that is contrary to what the ‘wisdom’ of this world says:
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive him far from it.– Proverbs 22:15
We don’t want our children to carry that foolishness into their adult years, do we? No we need to discipline them with the rod as the bible says.
But what is the correct way to discipline your child?
1. You should do it promptly. This is so the child can easily relate the punishment to the crime: He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Proverbs 13:24
2. You should use a rod that is dedicated to that purpose. This is so the child can recognize it as a measure for punishment and so that it will hurt when you use it. If it doesn’t cause your child pain when you are doing it, and if it doesn’t cause them to cry, then you aren’t doing it right: Do not withhold correction from a child, For [if] you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:13-14 and Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. Proverbs 19:18 (KJV)
(I shouldn’t even have to say this, but obviously the rod should be something like a small stick or wooden rod. Nothing that would cause any hurt besides some temporary soreness.)
3. You should do it only out of love and not in anger. You need to realize that your child is going to mess up, so don’t be surprised and angry. You can express your disapproval to the child without getting angry. When you punish from anger you are punishing for selfish purposes. When you punish from love you are doing it for the child’s good. Anger may be appropriate in some circumstances, especially if the child is older and is hurting someone else that you love, but it should be a bridled anger that you have under control. Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Eph 6:4
If you take the bible and common sense, you should be able to understand this discipline thing pretty easily. But don’t think you can live like an idiot, spank your children, and then expect them to turn out ok. No, this will ‘provoke your children to wrath.’ No, dedicate yourself to the Lord. Practice being a good example to your children and then, when your children are grown, they will look back and thank you for the way you disciplined them. They will partly accredit their success to your willingness to correct them with the rod and thereby teach them self-discipline.
Physically disciplining your child is one of the best things you can do for your child. Don’t try to convince yourself that time-outs are a good replacement. They are not. Time-outs give children time to be angry for not getting what they want. It gives them time to think foolish thoughts about how bad you are for not letting them have fun. No, they need to be thinking about how much it hurts when they do the wrong things. They should feel the pain of negative and selfish actions and then they should be taught that the pain is a lot worse when they are older. Show me where the bible talks about time-outs. You won’t find it in there.
But maybe you are in a circumstance where you have not used physical discipline properly and now have rebellious children. What should you do? Well the answer is not easy, and the implementation of physical punishment to those who aren’t used to it is going to be hard. They are going to scream bloody murder. They are going to make you feel like you are the worst person on the planet and that what you are doing is a criminal offense. They might even threaten to report you to the police that you are abusing them. Here is my best advice to you (as coming from someone who has not been there, but can only give you the little bit of wisdom that I have received from the Word) . You need pray, first of all and seek God’s direction. You also need to determine in your heart that you are going to do what is best for your kids, even if they hate you for it, because they probably will. You need to determine that you are going to do this because you love them and believe that is it best for them, not just because it will make your life easier. You need to be thorough with your discipline and make sure that it stings. Weak discipline will simply embolden the child to be rebellious.
Don’t give up. Remember that when you beat your child with the rod, you are delivering his soul from hell.