Creative discipline

Here are some suggestions to help you coach your children toward a more joyful attitude.

For problems with a negative attitude

Biblical basis

Numbers 13:31-33; 14:23-24; 36-38.

Suggested disciplinary action

When your child has a negative attitude, begin by removing the “good thing” that your child complained about. For example, if they are complaining about going swimming, have them sit the session out and watch the others having fun. Essentially, this is what God did with the spies who were negative about the Promised Land. Next, have your child make a list of the blessings they have in their life. Explain that the blessing God wanted to give the Israelites was the Promised Land. When the spies went into the land and reported back that it would be too hard to fight the people living in the land, God was angry. He had promised to give them a wonderful place to live, but they did not trust that He could give them victory over the “giants” living in the land.


Read Psalm 30:10-12 together. Pray with your child and help them ask God’s forgiveness for their negativity. Also ask God to give your child a joyful attitude to replace their attitude of ungratefulness or doubt.

Psalm 30:10-12 “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever.”

For problems with being joyful despite disappointment

Biblical basis

Habakkuk 3:17-18 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Suggested disciplinary action

Just as Habakkuk listed all of the problems in his life, have your child tell you and God about all the things that are troubling them. Then encourage your child to pray as Habakkuk did, trusting God to be his/her strength and acknowledging God as awesome and famous because of the things He has done.


Read Habakkuk 3:2a, which says, “Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord.” Follow this by reading Habakkuk 3:19: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Pray with your child, thanking God for His power and control. List awesome things that God has done and ask Him to give your child strength to face their problems. You may also choose to read and pray through Psalm 126:1-6 with your child to encourage them to trust God to fill him/her with joy despite the pain of their disappointment.

For problems with complaining

See “short circuit complaints” in the hands-on options section of this lesson.