Creative discipline

Here are some suggestions to help you encourage your children to be appropriately respectful of God.

For a child who is disobedient

Biblical basis

Deuteronomy 31:12-13 “Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.

Suggested disciplinary action

Disobeying a parent’s instructions reflects a lack of fear of God, who has placed parents in authority over their children.

Plan to spend a long “time out” with your disobedient child. Begin by explaining that God has given you the responsibility of teaching him or her to deeply respect God (Deuteronomy 31:12-13).

Next, read Deuteronomy 28:1-25 to your child, emphasizing all the ways God plans to bless the Israelites for being obedient and how He warns them of curses (or trouble) that will follow if they are disobedient. After reading the Scripture passage, review with your child that one of God’s commands for children is to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20). Make it clear that disobeying God’s rules or treating God or parents with disrespect is unacceptable.


As your time out comes to an end, let your child know that you are confident that he or she desires to honour God and to obey you. Pray with your child, asking God to help them love, respect Him and obey Him. You could use a simple prayer like this one:

Dear God, please look in my heart and show me if there is any disrespect for You or my parents. Thank you for loving me. Please teach me to love You and follow You with all my heart. Amen.

Repeat the process as necessary, each time explaining why you need to take such a hard line on obedience.

Matthew 22:36-38 “ ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’ ”

Ecclesiastes 12:13 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

For a child who uses God’s name as a swear word

Biblical basis

Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Suggested disciplinary action

Young children pick up language from many sources, often unaware of the meaning behind the words. So on a first offence, explain to your child that they have misused God’s name. Warn your child that if it happens again, you will have no choice but to impose harsh discipline.

For a repeat offence, make it clear that in your family misusing God’s name or dishonouring God in any way is completely unacceptable. The choice of discipline is up to you, but it should be severe.


Gently remind your child that it is better to have harsh discipline from a parent than to experience harsh discipline from God. Pray with your child, guiding them in confessing their sin and reassuring them of God’s forgiveness. Here’s a sample prayer:

God, You are holy and deserve to be honoured. I’m sorry for misusing your name. Thank you for forgiving me.  Please guard my mouth and tongue from using Your name as a swear word instead of a praise word. I do want You to be happy with the things I think and say. Amen.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 141:1-3 “O Lord, I call upon You; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to You! Let my prayer be counted as incense before You, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!