If you are a mom, sooner or later, you will want to learn how to discipline kids. There are so many different child discipline books, methods, and ideas swirling on the internet that it is hard to know who to believe or what will actually work for your child.

As a classroom teacher and mom of two adult kids, I can attest that what works for one kid doesn’t always work for another due to temperament, interests, age, and gender.

If your first child was easygoing, don’t get too high and mighty. The next child or two may put you on your knees and fast!

In this post, I will discuss how to discipline kids from a Christian perspective. I will cover positive discipline strategies (for all ages) that won’t crush their hearts, give ideas on how to mold your kid’s character and point them to Jesus.

If there is one thing you get out of this post, it is to discipline your child with love.

What is Discipline?

Before discussing how to discipline kids, let’s discuss the definition of discipline. Meriam-Webster says discipline is the following: 1.) instruction, 2.) orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior, and 3.) training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

This definition covers multiple dimensions of behavior management: teaching, training, conduct, patterns, correction, and moral character. I bet you thought discipline was just punishment, huh?

Disciplining kids is an art. It is a balance between redirecting bad behavior and enforcing punishment. Whatever you choose, it is important that you and your spouse agree on how to discipline kids and that you are consistent.

Otherwise, your parenting strategies will not work.

What Are Some Positive Discipline Strategies?

If you want to learn how to discipline a 4-year-old who is defiant all the way to a teenager, you need to first learn about positive discipline. Positive discipline stops problems before they ever start. It is about wisely managing your kids during the day and night.

As a classroom teacher and mom who has raised two kids, I suggest you consider these things when learning how to discipline kids:


Put your kids on a schedule. Have set times for meals, snacks, play, naps, reading, baths, and bedtime. (Older kids can be on a modified schedule.)

If your kids don’t have a routine, they will be idle, leading to destructive behavior. Fighting with siblings, overstimulation with screens, poor diet, and lack of sleep will make them irritable and unruly. (And, in turn, may you be irritable and unruly!)

RELATED: How to Create a Family Schedule and Keep Your Sanity

Diet-What are your kids eating, and are they eating enough? Consider focusing on whole foods. Processed foods with colors, sugars, white flour, nitrates, etc., are not good for your kids.

I taught junior high school, and I can tell you firsthand that the class after lunch was always my worst class. Diet directly affects behavior, I promise!

RELATE: How to Deal with Picky Eaters: Awesome Tips That Really Work

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Screen time

How much time are your kids on a screen each day? The more time they spend on it, the harder it will be to get them off. Kids who are addicted will have an all-out meltdown if you pull the plug.

Stop the addiction before it starts. Ipads and phones are incredibly addictive. Limit all screens to about 2-3 hours a day. Make them earn it with chores and reading.

RELATED: 37 Easy School Readiness Skills You Can Teach Your Child Now


Your kids need sleep. I recommend a sleep schedule. Start your baby on a schedule at birth. Babywise is an excellent way to sleep-train your child. Additionally, older kids need 7-9 hours of sleep too.

Don’t let them stay up all night. I suggest the phone be put up by 10 pm. Never allow phones in rooms overnight. If your child isn’t sleeping, I suggest you pull the screens and get them outside to play.

RELATED: 7 Best Tips For Getting a Baby to Sleep Through the Night


Kids need to get outside every day and play.

The more time they spend outside creating, running, and pretending, the better chance they will be worn out when they come in. That restless energy will be burnt off positively instead of negatively with discipline issues.


Sometimes, your child just needs to be distracted or redirected. If he is annoying a sibling, ask him to move to the other couch.

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For younger kids, remove the object. If he is compliant, then all is good. This is how to discipline kids positively!

Set Boundaries

Your kids are not mind-readers. They will do whatever they can get away with unless you set boundaries and expectations.

If a schedule is posted on the fridge and chores are given weekly, the ball is in their court to manage the outcome. Make following the rules easy to understand and expectations clearly outlined so they have a big chance for success.

Positive Reinforcement

Catch your kids doing things right. Constantly tell them how proud you are for choosing to do their chores, helping their brother, cleaning up their room, etc.

Praise them publically before other family members or friends whenever possible.

Build a Relationship

Listen to your child when he is upset. Genuinely take an interest when he wants your attention. Put down the phone, turn off the TV, etc.

If he is in trouble, let him explain his side. Furthermore, spending time together doing fun things with each child and together as a family is essential.

Trust me, you will need that relationship when you reach the teen years!

RELATED: Family Bonding Activities: Fun Ways to Spend Time Together


Pick books that are age-appropriate to read to your kids. I usually did it at mealtime or bedtime.

We would read a short Bible story/character book and then discuss it. If your child is struggling with lying, cheating, hitting, etc., then pick Christian books that deal with this behavior.

Take advantage of this teachable moment to instill morals and values at a non-conflict time. Word pictures and stories are great ways to work on character traits. Jesus did this often with parables.

RELATED: 30 Fun Reading Activities To Do With Your Child

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Get your FREE CHORE CHECKLIST PRINTABLE  and help your kids be responsible! There are two lists, one for young kids and one for teens.


Reward your child for getting good grades, learning a new skill, or working on a character quality that was previously lacking.

This is different than bribery.

Bribery is given in exchange for good behavior. Rewards are given for good choices that you did not coerce. They are genuinely earned and from the heart. This is how to discipline kids positively.

Give Choices

Kids need to feel some control over their lives, especially strong-willed kids. Give them a choice between two acceptable things to eliminate power struggles. Say something like, “Do you want the green or purple shoes? Do you want an apple or an orange?

Do you like chocolate or vanilla?” You can’t do it with everything, or it will be a negotiation, but it works with preferences.

Prayer and fasting

I am amazed at how many Christian parenting sites forget to include this: Ask God how to direct your child’s heart toward Him best.

I suggest you fast if you see a stronghold in your child’s life. This is a powerful way to break rebellion. I have seen more positive changes happen through prayer and fasting than anything else.

Child prayer

Pray together at night before bed. If you have a character quality you are working on with your child, ask Jesus to help your child.

Let him pray and ask Jesus for help so he takes ownership. After prayer, talk about how he made great choices that day and how proud you are of him.


If your child is struggling with lying, cheating, hitting, etc., role-play what to do the next time he is in this situation.

Talk through what good choices look like and how to react appropriately under pressure. This will help him feel confident and not default to emotions and bad behavior. In fact, role-play will empower him to do the right thing.

Say “Yes”

Try to find ways you can say “yes.” Think of ways to reframe your “no” to “yes.”

Here are some examples:  “Yes, you can go to the party if the parents are home.” “Yes, you can have that toy if you use your allowance to buy it.” “Yes, you can have a friend over after you clean your room.”

Natural Consequences

This is the generation of helicopter parenting. We cringe when we see our kids suffer, and so we try to save them. Guilty.

The best teacher is life. Let natural consequences fall on your child so he learns now instead of later. I gave my kids one save a semester. Afterward, they had to go without lunch or suffer for the late paper. Even fail the class.

That one was hard. 

Try again

If you do not like how your child behaves or responds, say, “Try again.” This gives him a second chance to approach you correctly.

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This gives him time to stop and think about what he is doing, i.e. whining, having a bad attitude, yelling, etc.

Role model

What kind of role model are you for your kids? Your children learn more from your behavior than what you say.

More is caught than taught. Are you reading good material, watching appropriate shows, or behaving in a way that reflects Jesus? If you want to mitigate some discipline issues, be the person you want your kids to be.

RELATED: How to Pray for Your Child: 6 Tips to Pray In Your War Room (really pray)

The Goal For Disciplining Your Kids

Remember, your goal is for your kids to follow Jesus one day and pass your faith on to the next generation. You don’t want your discipline to drive them away from God but toward Him.

A fear-based, angry parenting spirit will do just that, so be careful with how you enforce your discipline. If you do drive your kids away from God, keep praying.

Ask your teenager for forgiveness if you have been overbearing in your discipline. This may soften their heart. If not, keep praying for the Holy Spirit to work in your teen’s life.

RELATED: I highly recommend listening to the Crazy Cool Family podcast for more positive parenting strategies.

How to Discipline Kids

The two most important things to remember about disciplining kids are that the crime must fit the punishment and that the consequence you choose must be logical and meaningful.

This entails finding your child’s currency.

What do I mean by the “crime” fits the punishment?

Have a relevant consequence that fits the “crime.” Something that will remind your child not to engage in unwanted behavior again.

Here are some examples:

Crime: The child is not cleaning his room. Punishment: Have him clean his room plus his sibling’s room.

Crime: The child came home 10 minutes late. Punishment: The next time he goes out, the child arrives 10 minutes earlier. If the situation gets worse, double or triple the time.

Crime: The child slams the door. Punishment: She opens and closes the door 20 times. If the problem persists, the door will be removed from the hinges for a period of time.

Crime: The child will not be nice to siblings. Punishment: The child is removed. Has to sit in his room for 10 minutes. He may come out when he can be nice. Send him back if he does it again.

Do you get the idea? You want discipline to make sense in your child’s mind. If it doesn’t, your child will be even angrier and rebel due to unforgiveness.

What is your child’s currency?

If you want to learn how to discipline kids, know their currency. What is currency?

What do your kids hate getting taken away? Or what chore do they hate doing? Do they love video games, iPads, phones, or certain toys? Whatever is meaningful to them is their currency. It can either be earned or taken away.

When my kids were older, they hated when their phones were taken away for not doing school work. The phone was a distraction and was removed until they did their assignments. It was a logical consequence of using their currency. Now that’s how to discipline kids!

One of my kids hated getting charged for work not done. I charged this child when I had to clean their bedroom unless there were extenuating circumstances. Otherwise, I would have had to pay my housekeeper extra to stay longer and do it—the logical consequence of using their currency. 

You must keep working to find what will get their attention; otherwise, the consequences will not work.

Another suggestion is a punishment jar. Various punishments/chores are written on popsicle sticks and placed in a jar.  The child pulls a stick if he has disobeyed. This is how to discipline kids with a bit of fun.

Ten Types of Discipline That Work (For All Ages)

If you want to know how to discipline a 2-year-old to consequences for your teenager, check out these examples of discipline that work. They can be adjusted in time and severity depending on the child’s age. (I think these discipline tips are perfect for school-age children.)

  • Time out/room time/grounding depending on age
  • Removal of the priveledges-early bedtime, cancel playdate or night out with friends
  • Extra chores/volunteering in the community
  • Personally help repair or pay for what broke
  • Verbal apology and/or written apology
  • Services removed-child does own laundry, makes own lunch, cleans the room
  • Financial consequences-pay for the broken toy, ticket, or failed class
  • Writing assignment about the topic of concern
  • Removal of property such as a toy, phone, iPad, bedroom door, scooter, or car
  • Talk with a parent, pastor, principal, or law officer to help discuss and redirect bad choices
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This is how to discipline kids of all ages meaningfully so they are redirected to good behavior. Remember to keep your tone of voice level when you administer discipline.

You do not have to yell to get your kids to obey!

RELATED: How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids: 7 Easy Tips to Be a Calm Parent

How to Discipline Kids That Won’t Listen?

Learning how to discipline kids can be controversial. You may wonder if it’s okay for parents to physically discipline their children, especially if they are defiant.

If you cannot get your child’s attention, I suggest spanking, especially if your child is between two and nine years old. It may save them from ruin. I realize this is an unpopular discipline strategy, but it is biblical and works.

Here are three scriptures to support my claim on how to discipline kids biblically:

Prov 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (KJV).
Prov 23:13: “Don’t hesitate to discipline children. A good spanking won’t kill them (NLT).
Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

My husband and I spanked, and I am glad we did.

It wasn’t very often, so it got my kid’s attention when we did it. If you or your spouse have anger issues, I suggest you do not physically discipline your children. Spanking can turn abusive if it is not controlled and done in the proper manner (love).

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how to discipline kids

What Are the Benefits of Child Discipline?

Child discipline has many benefits, but the most crucial benefit is that when you confront your kids about their sins, there is an opportunity to introduce the need for a Savior.

If they are not confronted with their bad behavior (sin), they will never feel the need to give their life to Jesus someday…not to mention that they will be horrible to be around. No one enjoys entitled, rebellious, and unruly kids. Blah. 

Don’t forget that God entrusted you with these precious little people. It is your responsibility to learn how to discipline kids. It is a command from the Bible.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (NIV).

Additionally, you are responsible for showing truth and grace just like God does with us. You want a good relationship with your kids when they are grown. No matter what, discipline with love, and you will know you are doing the right thing.

For more information, check out this article on the 4 Parenting Styles and Effective Child Discipline

What tips do you have on how to discipline kids? Comment below.

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Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family but also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

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Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

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Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the Christian Family Living group. This is a place for Christian women to freely talk about parenting, marriage, faith, family, and culture. Being a Christian is hard! Let’s do it together. Most of all, a sense of humor is required. Got memes? Bring it on!

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There are tips on building a Christian home, parenting, marriage, family issues, and faith. Learn how to get back to the things that matter most in your life and your family’s life. It’s time for a revival!


Julie is a wife, mom, teacher, author, and blogger. She writes about Christian family living, marriage, parenting with a touch of humor.


  1. Great teaching and a comprehensive post – ideas to suit for everyone! I had a smile when you said the first child may be easy but the second might bring you to your knees – exactly my experience with my two sons! 🙂

    • Yeah, it’s so true. I see lots of parents who are experts until that “one” child comes along and blows everything out of the water. It’s like,” What happened?” I was such a good parent…Every kid is different and motivated by different things. It’ all about finding their currency. Most of all, keep praying. Prayer is the one thing that works on all of them!

    • I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read something with a biblical perspective on parenting. There’s so much other stuff out there, even from Christians. Excellent and comprehensive!

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