Family Life Association for Ministry and EducationFamily Counseling Ministries
Print | Back

Godly Discipline: Loving, Swift and Sure

By Dr. Don and Debbi Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Have you broken promises to your children and issued empty threats? You can regain their trust!

Family Counseling Ministries -

Many parents give their children several opportunities to obey a command. Consequently, their children quickly learn that delayed obedience is an acceptable option in their family. God expects His children to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit immediately. In the final article of a 20-part series on child discipline, Dr. Dunlap explains that we must teach our children the concept that “to delay is to disobey.”

Many Christian parents have trained their children not to believe them. Several times in department stores, for example, I have heard frustrated mothers threaten, “Jamie, if you don’t come on this minute, I’m going to leave you here.” Or perhaps you have heard a father tell a child, “Get over here right now, or that big dog is going to eat you up.”

Parents should not hold threats over their children’s heads to terrorize them into obedience. Parents should train children to obey on first command because it is the right thing to do, and because their disobedience will result in a swift and sure consequence.

5.      Do not make threats that you can’t or won’t carry out.


A parent may say to a child, for example, “If you don’t sit quietly while I’m driving, I’m going to stop and throw you out of this car.” Of course a responsible, loving parent would not actually leave a child by the side of the road. The child soon realizes that his or her parents sometimes make empty threats, and the child’s trust in them is gradually diminished.


Children soon begin to push against every established boundary, because they know that their parents will not carry out certain stated consequences of their disobedience.


6.      Do not bribe your child with rewards for good behavior.


Have you ever promised your child, “If you’ll be good while were shopping I’ll buy you an ice-cream cone?” Using bribes accomplishes temporary results, but it does not train a child to obey in order to please God.


It is fine to occasionally reward a child for demonstrating godly character, but the promise of a reward is not the reason that he or she should obey. A child ought to obey because God says that it is the right thing to do.


7.      Be certain that the child makes any necessary restitution.


Explain to children that they are responsible to ask forgiveness of anyone that they offended by acting disobediently. If a child lied to someone, he or she must go that person immediately and set the record straight. If the child stole something, the child must return it and ask forgiveness of the person that he or she stole it from. If the child damaged the item that was stolen, he or she must work to earn the money to repair or replace it.

Above all, when disciplining their children, parents should consider the exhortation of 1 Corinthians 16:13,14. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men [and women] of courage; be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”



Terms & Conditions | Privacy Statement