Creative discipline

Your loving correction does not represent a “failure” – it’s essential to the learning process. Use these ideas to help your children recognize situations that call for greater gentleness.

Biblical basis

This discipline is based on the concept of “working off a debt” as described in Exodus 21:18-19. In the law given in this passage, if a man injured another man, he was required to pay the injured man for his lost time. If the injured man could not return to work, the man who injured him was required to pay his wages until he was healed.

Suggested disciplinary action

You can put this Old Testament version of workers’ compensation into action in your home! Here’s how. When one of your children hurts a sibling physically or emotionally, explain that you will lose work time while you are comforting and caring for the injured child. Therefore, the disciplinary action will involve helping you to catch up with the work that he/she has caused you to get behind on.

The choice of “work” is up to your discretion. Appropriate tasks may be folding clothes, tidying away toys, vacuuming, clearing dishes, taking out or collecting garbage, or washing walls and windows. (Although you may actually “waste” even more time while supervising this “work,” it is worth it.)

When you think the child has “worked” long enough, say something like, “I think you have helped me catch up on the work that I didn’t get to because I was attending to your brother/sister. Let’s pray together, then you can go back to playing.”


Reassure your child that you believe that they will soon be an expert at showing real love, according to 1 John 3:18, which states: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Pray with your child, using a kids talk with God sample prayer.