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Parental Guidelines for Spanking Children

By Dr. Don and Debbi Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Following biblical guidelines helps parents discipline their children more effectively.

Family Counseling Ministries -

In the 19th article of a 20-part child discipline series, Dr. Dunlap discusses seven biblical guidelines that help parents discipline more effectively. He urges them to use a neutral object for correction, to comfort children after disciplining them, to be united in their disciplinary methods, not to be manipulated by children’s tears, not to make threats they can’t or won’t carry out, not to bribe children with rewards for good behavior, and to lead children to make necessary restitution.

Parents who desire to discipline their children biblically should be aware of several guidelines that, if heeded, will help them discipline more effectively.

1.      Use a neutral object for correction.


The value of using a neutral object, such as a wooden dowel or paddle, rather than your hand or your belt, is that a young child usually associates pain with whatever inflicts it. Your hands are a part of you, and your belt is an extension of yourself. Children should never fear their parents’ hands. Use your hands to love and comfort your children. A neutral object also communicates the fact that the discipline is from God, as well as from the parents.

2.      Don’t allow your child’s tears to manipulate you.


There is an acceptable way for children to cry when they are being disciplined. Do not permit a child to scream, yell, jump up and down, or display an angry countenance while you are spanking him or her. Do not allow the child to sob loudly, or for a prolonged period of time. If the child cries, give the child sufficient time to get his or her emotions under control and then tell the child to calm down or expect to receive further discipline. Then be as good as your word.


Furthermore a child should not determine the severity of the spanking. By this, I mean that he or she should not tell the parent, for instance, “One lick is enough.” Neither should the child be allowed to sulk or pout after he or she has been spanked. The parent should require the child to have a compliant attitude throughout the course of the disciplinary encounter.


3.      Comfort your child after you discipline him or her.


After you have administered a spanking, reassure your child of your love for him or her with appropriate physical affection. The parent that administers the discipline must be the one who comforts the child afterward. The child ought to feel loved and accepted by the parent, even in the midst of the disciplinary process. Don’t attack the child personally, or withdraw your fellowship from him or her.


Don’t banish the child from your presence, or communicate disgust at his or her behavior. Deal lovingly and firmly with the sin that the child has committed and then affirm him or her.


4.      Parents must be united in their disciplinary methods.


Children are generally very sensitive to their parents’ emotional state. If a child senses that his or her parents are not of one heart and one mind on an issue, he or she will seek to “play both ends against the middle.” God’s Word assures us that no one can serve two masters. He or she will despise one and love the other.

Parents must be in full agreement as to what misbehavior they will correct and what methods of discipline they will employ.



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