As you develop a plan for discipline, you have to stick to it.
Expect first-time obedience. You may tell your child to stop running. When you say “stop running” and the child continues to run, simply remind them by saying, “Obey!” When they disregard your words, you must always (even if you are tired or don’t feel like it) take action against the disobedience in your child’s heart. God expects this same kind of obedience from us! For a great example of this, read the book of Jonah.
Talk to your child about what they did wrong and what it shows about their heart. Using the example above, you could ask the question, “Did you obey me when I told you to stop running?” Be sure they know what they did wrong and what God’s word says about their behavior and their heart. For example, “You didn’t obey me when I told you to stop running. God’s word says that you must listen and obey, and when you do, you will be happy” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
Tell them what you are going to do in response to their sin and do it. Children need to know what to expect. Using the example above you could say to your 2-year-old, “Because you disobeyed me when God’s Word tells you to obey, I’m going to give you two spanks on your bottom.”
Forgive and forget once the spanking is over. This part of discipline is crucial to shaping a child’s heart. Following the spanking, hug your child and tell them how much you love them. Encourage them to ask for forgiveness, then freely give it, forgetting the offense — just like your Heavenly Father forgives and forgets your sin! This means avoiding phrases like, “You will never learn” or “How many times have I told you to obey?”
Pray with your child, and together thank Jesus for His love. This part of discipline is the sweetest. It’s the time to go to your Heavenly Father to thank Him for His love and His help in training our hearts. Using our example, you could pray, “Jesus thank you for loving us and forgiving us when we do not obey. Please give us a heart that wants to obey.”
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Disciplining your child and training the heart is not easy for you or your child. But with every time of training, you are setting your child up to obey their Heavenly Father later.