How To Discipline A Child Who Rebels Discipline


After multiple corrections for tone of voice and what we considered disrespectful attitude, we sent him up to his room. A time of separation was needed for us all to regain our composure. These moments seem to occur when the pressure of the clock silently pushes us forward.

We paid a visit to his room thinking that he would be ready to listen to our instruction. Pride clouded his vision, rebellion took the spot of repentance.

The give and take exchanges began, and his narrowed eyes spoke the attitude of the heart. He wasn’t able to hear the words we shared. He was convinced he was right. He had determined to win the argument.

My husband and I sat with our child trying to guide, instruct, correct, and discipline. We weren’t trying to win, but we couldn’t allow him to be so misguided in his thoughts and feelings either. Our son saw only a battle, him vs us, and he was determined to win.

We tried explaining that our job as a parent is to discipline out of love and obedience to God. He didn’t want to hear. His response back, “When you discipline me, it just makes me angrier at you. You should just send me to my room and leave me alone. When you discipline me, I just get madder and madder at you.”

My husband and I disengaged battle. In that state, no one wins. We told him to get in the car to leave for church and we would revisit this discussion later in the day when our emotions were calm.

Our emotions can cloud our vision, changing how we see things with a tendency towards selfishness and an inability to reason. That is what was happening in our conversations.

Hours later, after Sunday School, after church, after lunch, he tapped my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “I’m really sorry I was such a jerk to you and Dad.” I put my arm around his shoulders and pulled him close, whispering back, “We forgive you. Thank you for apologizing. We do still need to talk this afternoon.” He smiled back, “I know.”

Later that afternoon, emotions no longer changing the issue at hand, the Holy Spirit had softened each of our hearts so we were able to speak through love what needed to be spoken, but more importantly, what needed to be heard.

The earlier narrowed eyes had widened, the lines around those eyes softened, and the sparkle of curiosity had returned. He knew what was coming. It was God’s Word.

Knee to knee we sat on the sofa. He pulled out his Bible, and I instructed him which verses to look up to read aloud to me. I’d call a verse, he’d read. I would explain and let it settle into his soul. Then we’d move to the next.

Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Proverbs 15:5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

Proverbs 13:18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid

His eyes widened. “I didn’t know that word was in the Bible.” “Honey, God’s Word is surprising. Read it.”

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

“Honey, this is why I can’t just send you away to your room and leave you to yourself.”

Hebrews 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death

Proverbs 15:32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life

Discipline is uncomfortable in every way. It exposes our weak spots and calls to account our actions. My son found himself in need of correction and discipline, yet he fought it with every ounce of strength he had.

Sometimes I need time to process and understand where my feelings are coming from. And I always need time to pray and allow God to guide me to truth rather than working solely from my emotions.

God’s Word is all we need. All of life can be boiled down into one statement. Know His Word. If we know His Word, we can work through anything. When we know His Word, we know Him. When we know Him, we can’t help but love Him.

The following day he called out, “Hey, mom, the neatest thing happened today. I opened up my Bible and asked God to direct me where to read. I opened up and let my finger fall. It fell on Proverbs  13:18. I read it and thought ‘hey that’s the verse mom read to me.’ So I decided to memorize it so I would never forget it.”

Ya’ll, I don’t share this to get a pat on the back or say I deserve mother of the year. I could tell you 50 stories of the last week where I’ve blown it huge with my kids. I share this so God’s grace and power are magnified over my weakness and failures. I don’t want to magnify my sin, I want to illuminate His goodness.

Lord, let us find satisfaction for our soul through your Word. Let us look to Truth to guide us. Let us cling to you in a changing world that feels out of control. Let us remember you are the Rock of our salvation.

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