They don’t include any kind of “instruction manual” for raising your child when they send you home from the hospital with your baby. Thankfully, God’s word gives parents the instructions they need, in places like Proverbs 22:15, which reads: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” This verse gives us several important lessons about child discipline:
— First, it teaches us that children do not start off “good.” “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” You do not have to teach them to lie, or to be selfish. “Foolishness” — the life of disobedience to the Lord — comes “bound up” in their heart. Unless you do something to redirect them, they will continue in that foolish, rebellious state.
— So you must not leave them as they are. Your children need consistent, corrective action. This is what “the rod of discipline” is. Your child must be disciplined, and learn that their instinctive actions are not acceptable. When they cross a line in disobedience, they must know that there are consequences. Draw these lines in advance, and make sure that you consistently enforce them, every single time, whether it is with a literal “rod” or other punishment appropriate to the age of the child, and the particular offense.
— And this verse admonishes us that this must be done while they are “a child.” If you do not discipline them, and break their rebellious will when they are young, they will almost certainly face a life of unbroken rebellion and all of its harmful consequences. It is vital that you do this now, or you will face great heartache in years to come.
The first years of a child are formative, and they are crucial. Teach your child while they are young that there are consequences for “crossing the lines” of disobedience. Heed Proverbs 22:15, and use the rod of discipline to remove that inborn foolishness far from them right now!