Dec 5, 2012
Using Scripture for Correction
I do not claim to be an expert on this topic. I have but two children, both still young. I have no seminary training. But I do know God admonishes me to correct and discipline my children. (See God's reaction when Eli doesn't discipline his sons, for example. See also 1 Samuel 3:13, Proverbs 29:15-17, Proverbs 3:12, Ephesians 6:4; and much more.)
One of the most loving and biblical ways we can do this is by using Scripture.
Positive or Negative?
It is perhaps easiest to use Bible verses admonishing our children not to do something. For example: "You shall not steal" (Ex. 20:15) or "the Lord hates...a lying tongue" (Proverbs 6:16-17). These are important parts of scripture and should certainly be known by everyone - parents and kids, included.
However, I feel it's important to temper these more negative verses with positive ones. So if, for example, your child has a problem with a sassy mouth, you might teach her Ephesians 4:29: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths..." But I also encourage you to include a verse phrased in a positive way, such as Proverbs 16:24: "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
I also strongly believe these verses, whether positive or negative, should not be your child's only exposure to Scripture. That could result in a very slanted view of the Bible. So make sure you are reading the Bible to your child every day; be sure to talk about what you read, too.
Not only can verses be positive or negative, but so can you. If you read your child a Scripture with an angry tone of voice, or an attitude that is disrespectful or belittling, you will fail. You might make your child obey for the moment, but in the end, her attitude about the Bible and God will be greatly damaged.
There are a few books out there that help parents target Scripture to their child's behavior. Instruction for Righteousness comes to mind, as does The Child Training Bible. And any Bible concordance will help, too. But honestly, I find the easiest tool is Google. Just type in "Bible says about" plus the topic of interest. For example, I recently Googled: "Bible says about mouth" and a number of sites came up listing Scripture on our mouths and speaking. I find this works with most any topic.
Methods of Correction
When your child is not yet able to read or write, I think the best way to use Scripture for correction is to simply read a Bible verse to them, then talk about it. I recommend you read directly from your Bible (rather than just reciting a verse or reading it from some other source) so your child has a visual reminder of where the Bible verse comes from. Be sure to explain any difficult words or concepts. Ask if your child has questions. Then read the Bible verse one more time.
This sort of correction can be used alone for minor offenses, or alongside other correction (such as a time out) for repeated or more serious offenses. Whether you choose to read and discuss the Scripture before or after the additional correction depends upon your child. Consider when he or she will be most receptive. Try it both ways to see which works better.
Young Children Who Read:
Once your child can read and write reasonably well (usually by first grade), you can select age appropriate/reading-level appropriate verses for him to read by himself or with help. (I highly recommend using NIV, NAS, NLV, or NiRV versions of the Bible so as not to confuse children with difficult language.) Then I suggest you either:
1. Have your child write the verse repeatedly, making sure she reads back what she writes.
2. Have your child memorize the verse.
Either will help your child to remember the lesson being taught. Other ideas:
* Have your child write a paragraph or two about how the verse can be applied to the child's life.
* Have your child act on the verse right away. For example, let's say your child just called his sibling something mean. You might read him Ephesians 4:29, then have him say several uplifting things to his sibling.
* Have your child make a list of things to do/say that relate to the verse. Again, going back to Ephesians 4:29, your child could make a list of words of encouragement he could give to whomever he offended in the first place.
* Do an art project related to the verse. There's no reason this can't be fun! The idea is to help the Scripture stick in your child's mind.
Remember to continue explaining more difficult parts of the verse to your child, and be sure to ask your child if she has any questions about the verse.
Tweens and Teens:
By the time you child is in her tweens, you can ask her to find appropriate Bible verses on her own. Continue to discuss the Scripture with your child, and consider some of the options under #2 (above) to help cement them. Focus not only on helping your child learn about the Bible and what God wants from her, but also on teaching her how to use the Bible as a tool. She should learn how to easily find references on any topic in the Bible, for example.
How do you use Scripture to correct your children?