The Massachusetts Medical Society released a document entitled “Raise Your Child with Praise” in July of 2006 that included a printable tip card on how to use praise alongside discipline to raise children in a happy home. They tell parents, “Your child needs your love and attention. Sometimes your child learns that the only – or the best – way to get your attention is to misbehave!”
The Bible teaches us that children must be trained to live a God-fearing life – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
This training will include discipline when necessary to correct wayward behavior: Proverbs 22:15 – “A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away.” Proverbs 29:15 – “Correct your children, and they will be wise; children out of control disgrace their mothers.”
Children need discipline to be sure. The Bible even says “Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them” (Proverbs 23:13). But a child’s tender spirit can be crushed with the constant presence of criticism and correction, and God’s Word tells us not to exasperate our children (Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord”). There must be a balance of Godly discipline and deserving praise.
As Christian parents, we need to fill our homes with praise, both toward God and toward our children. In doing this, we will create a positive environment that motivates our children toward obedience and teaches them to live a life filled with praise and thanksgiving rather than discontent or criticism.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child – that is true. But, beside the rod, keep an apple to give him when he has done well.” Martin Luther