Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 15: Infancy to Childhood - Training Procedures

I must admit that I usually don't treat sin as seriously as I should. This is true for the sins of my children, and my own sins as well. I don't see that rebellion against a holy God puts us at a serious risk. Of course, I need to continually repent of this mindset; after all, sin is so serious that our God sent His only Son to die, to redeem me from my sin nature. We all need to be redeemed from foolishness and rebellion in our hearts.

For young children, spanking is a crucial component of child training. In general, preschool-age children cannot give proper weight to words alone, and a spanking gets their attention like nothing else, allowing you the opportunity to speak life-giving words into them.

When should I spank? When I give a clear command that can be understood, and that command is refused, challenged, or delayed. I confess that I am nowhere near as consistent as I need to be. Tripp is correct when he observes, "Inconsistency means that correction revolves around your convenience rather than around objective biblical principle." Get that? When I fail to discipline, it shows that I love myself more than I love my child. This is what the Bible teaches in Proverbs 13:24 -- "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him."

Tripp gives some good guidelines in how we should spank. For example, it must be private; the goal is to correct him without stripping his dignity. Discipline is about shepherding him, not about evangelizing or showing others that I follow God's way. Be deliberate and specific in explaining why he is receiving a spanking. And before praying with my child following a spanking, I must ensure that there is complete restoration. "If discipline has not yielded a harvest of peace and righteousness, it is not finished." I may need to check my own spirit, before checking his.

Why should we spank? Because God commands it! "It is God's method of driving foolishness from your child's heart." (See Proverbs 22:15) My child's self-centeredness and pride must be challenged from a young age, to prepare her to live as a responsible adult, and to help her see her need for Christ's grace and forgiveness.

Tripp concludes this chapter by answering some frequently asked questions, and I encourage you to peruse that list for yourself. If you've been using spankings, use this time to prayerfully consider if you've done it by God's methods. If this is new to you, I encourage you to find a godly friend or pastor to help you talk through how you can begin to implement God's chief tool to help train young children.


  1. Great article. I have enjoyed reading your take on Mr. Tripp's book. I finished my own synopsis of the book several months back. You can find it at:

    Keep up the great work!


    (aka "Dad in the Middle")

  2. Thanks for your compliment. And I appreciate the link.