When it comes to correcting my kids’ behavior, I’ve got a lot to learn. My gut reactions tend not to be the best ones…
- Shouting (“Come on, guys!”)
- Shaming (“I only asked you to do one thing, and you couldn’t even do that?”
- Over-generalizing (“Why do you always…”)
I know I’m not alone. I hear it all the time from parents who wish they could correct their children in a godly manner, but their knee-jerk responses seem to get in the way.
3 Verses to Use When Correcting Children
Parents need a plan when it comes to discipline and correction. We need to learn how to correct our children in a way that…
- Points them to law of Christ, not just our own parental rules
- Speaks to their hearts, not just their behaviors
- Imparts grace and kindness, not condemnation
1. Law: Luke 10:27
As Christians, we are called to obey “the law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). In his earthly ministry, Jesus told us what His most important commandments are:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Kids need boundaries and rules, but too many rules can be burdensome. Jesus keeps it ruthlessly simple for us, giving us just two memorable laws, pulled right from the Law of Moses.
Love God. Love people. Every act of disobedience is, in some way, connected to one or both of these commands.
- When our kids are impatient, they aren’t showing love towards God in his wise timing or towards people in their weaknesses.
- When our kids are argumentative, they aren’t showing love to the elders placed over them.
- When our kids are unkind, they aren’t showing love through their attitudes, words, and actions.
- When our kids brag on themselves or are envious of others, they show selfishness, not loving, selfless service to others.
- When our kids obsess over toy, hobby, or game—so much that they neglect their duties—they show they aren’t putting God first in their hearts.
- When our kids are deceitful, they show they want to save face more than giving people the courtesy of honesty.
Each time you correct your children, bring it back to one or both of these two commands. Also, remind them Whose commandments these are.
If these are Jesus’ top 2 commands, they should be ours as well.
2. Heart: Luke 6:45
There are times when quick correction of behavior is needed, but at some point—perhaps when the time is ripe, or at the end of the day—our kids need to understand where their behaviors come from.
This is why Jesus helps us get to the heart of behavior:
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Remind your children, their behavior is not merely because “their brother made them do it.” It isn’t because they are tired or hungry. These these are just occasions for the evil in their hearts to spring into action.
3. Grace: Romans 5:8
Regardless of how our kids react to our correction, they need to be told about the kindness of God through Christ.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God doesn’t wait for us to be good to redeem us. He doesn’t even wait for us to want to be good. He sent His Son to die when we were nothing but rebels.
Our kids need to know Christ took the punishment for the sins of the world and He is able to save all who believe in Him. They should be reminded of this fact, whether they have personally professed faith in Christ or not.
Parenting with Proverbs
The Bible is full of proverbs and proverb-like statements—short, memorable sayings of about practical and godly living.
The Book of Proverbs in the Bible is uniquely suited to help parents in moments of correction. Proverbs was written “to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth” (Proverbs 1:4). The heart of the book is intensely personal and fatherly.
Proverbs are ideal for moments of correction because…
- Proverbs are short, memorable, and quotable.
- Proverbs don’t just tell you how to live; they tell you why.
- Proverbs are based on real-life experience.
- Proverbs are God’s own words, not just yours.
This is what inspired me to write Parenting with Proverbs: The Art of Biblical Correction Using Biblical Wisdom.
- Lazy vs. Hardworking
- Sloppy vs. Diligent
- Deceitful vs. Truthful
- Emotionally Impulsive vs. Self-Controlled
- Greedy vs. Generous
- Indifferent vs. Attentive to Elders
- Argumentative vs. Obedient
- Hurtful Words vs. Kind Words
- Prideful vs. Humble
- Envious vs. Rejoicing with Others
- Quarreling vs. Peacemaking
- Bad Friendships vs. Good Relationships
- Bitter vs. Forgiving
- Complaining vs. Gratefulness
Each character trait chapter also includes:
- A short Bible study connecting the proverbs to the person of Christ
- Quick interpretations for in-the-moment corrections
- Dialogue questions for your kids
- The digital version also includes Scripture-memory cards for every proverb in the book.