Disciplining Your Child

Many of us will remember Candace Cameron Bure from ABC’s Full House, where we affectionately knew her as “DJ Tanner.” Today Candace is a role model to young women everywhere, with a testimony of growing up in Hollywood, while growing in faith with God.

This month, Candace gets candid on the topic of spanking when a reader asks, “Why is it that Christian parents are taught to hurt their children when it’s clearly not what Jesus taught?”

Hi Candace, I have a question for you. What “discipline” technique do you employ or recommend? I too am a Christian. However, I am quite concerned that many people who want to follow Jesus’ teachings are misled. Jesus went against many of the practices that are laid out in the Old Testament. He was a pacifist. Why is it then that Christian parents are taught to hurt their children when it’s clearly not what Jesus taught?

The reason that I ask is because on Kirk’s site he promotes the book and videos of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, and your forum also talks about the book.

The book demands that the child be hit each time they do something that the parents object to, even when a baby cries about having their diaper changed!

Page 154 “Rebellion can be something as simple as an infant struggling against a diaper change or stiffening his body when you want him to sit on your lap. The discipline procedure is the same as laid out above. You have no way of knowing how much a child a year old or less can understand of what you say, but we do know that understanding comes long before the ability to articulate does….When our oldest child was approximately 8 months old….Obviously he was old enough to be disciplined.”

“Spanking” is a cutesy word for hitting. If an employer spanks his employee he would be arrested.

I respect you and wanted your insight–I couldn’t ask Kirk about it because he doesn’t have this type of forum.

First I would suggest that parents read Shepherding a Child’s Heart for themselves and come to their own conclusion. You pulled an excerpt that sounds misleading. When read in the context of the whole chapter—and the entire book—you would see that there is absolutely, without question, NO abuse. That excerpt was simply talking about our defiant nature—even as young as a baby. It DIDN’T go on to say they should be spanked for not wanting their diaper changed.

A spanking is NEVER done in anger or in rage. It is a loving correction done with explanation and prayer to simply teach a child right from wrong. And please understand that a spanking is not the first resort. When a child is asked to do something and defiantly refuses, it is then that they would be lovingly corrected. As small children, often a second asking is good—something like, “Sara, Mommy asked you to put your toy in the basket.” If not responded to again, then correction would be appropriate.

Do you ever have to teach your child to say, “NO! That’s MINE! Gimme!”? Of course not. That is the sin nature we are all born with—a selfish, defiant attitude. We have to teach our children to share, to be kind, and unselfish. The Bible fully supports “the rod of correction,” but again, never in abuse, anger or for a parent’s selfish reasons to control his children.

Jesus did not come against the teachings of the Old Testament, but He fulfilled the “Law,” and the practices that the law entailed. We must keep in mind that Jesus is the same God “Yesterday, today and forever.”

I discipline my children by spanking when the situation calls for it. Once a toddler is walking around and getting into things, a slap on the hand is one way they respond to correction. It shouldn’t hurt as much as be a surprise, and discomfort to them. This prepares them that the word NO comes with a consequence. Once my children were around 18 months old, and we knew that they could understand our instruction, they were spanked on the bottom if they disobeyed. As my children grow older, we find more creative ways to discipline, allowing the punishment to fit the crime. These types of disciplines are effective and biblical when done in love. It is the responsibility of all parents to teach and train their children

I sincerely hope you would read Shepherding a Child’s Heart in its entirety. The title is so appropriate, because it is a WONDERFUL book that in no way teaches us to abuse our children. It’s all about getting to the heart of the matter and guiding them to understanding Godly submission.

Of the 19 chapters in this book, only one is dedicated to “the rod” even explaining common objections.

I hope this has shed some light on my view.

P.S. I also read an interesting article that Dr. James Dobson wrote for Focus on the Family titled, “To Spank or Not to Spank.” In it He writes:

“Contrary to what you have read in popular literature, this firm but loving approach to child rearing will not harm a toddler or make him violent. To the contrary, it is most likely to produce a healthy, confident child.”

19 comments for “Disciplining Your Child

  1. SisterinChrist
    November 28, 2008 at 7:21 AM

    This entry was actually originally posted several weeks ago, and several thoughtful comments had been posted, all of which are now gone. Oh well… I guess there was a malfunction…

    Several posters had commented that they were unsure about whether they felt spanking was right or not. As a Christian myself, I do *not* believe it is biblical to spank. The shepherd didn’t hit his sheep with “the rod of correction.” He lovingly guided them with it, as are we to lovingly “discipline” our children by teaching and guiding them in life. It is completely unnecessary to spank children, and I also believe it can leave behind many negative consequences as well.

    The following website is a large group of Christian women who do not believe in spanking, and there is a lot of great information there: http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com. This website was a great comfort to me when I first found it, as it was so nice to know there were other Christians who agreed with me!! These women get great results by using gentle methods of discipline, and several of the moms find that these methods actually work “better!”

    By the way, most Orthodox Jews, who are “very” devoted to scripture, do not spank their kids… and they also have those same verses in Proverbs.

  2. November 28, 2008 at 6:28 PM

    Sister in Christ, we hare redoing the entire site, and have switched the comments over to another server. Sorry they were lost this month, but Candace has received them all.

  3. SisterinChrist
    November 28, 2008 at 8:05 PM

    It’s okay, and thank you for letting us know Darlenes. 🙂

  4. K.T.
    November 30, 2008 at 4:34 PM

    I spanked my children when they were very young. After about age 2-3, they didn’t need it as they knew to listen to me. However, I have seen kids who weren’t spanked, and never developed a respect for a parent, whose sole discipline was to ‘talk’.

  5. November 30, 2008 at 9:22 PM

    I believe that spanking your children is necessary. After working at many different daycares, every person I worked with completely agrees. When you can compare the children that are spanked to the ones that aren’t you KNOW that it is important. I completely agree that it needs to be done in love and NEVER in anger! If you love your child, then you want them to grow up to be the absolute best person/Christian that they can be. You don’t always have to discipline by spanking. I was spanked growing up and I am far from a violent person. I have never been in a physical fight in my life. It’s lack of discipline that causes a person to become violent. Many of these “violent” children act out with violence because they are looking for negative attention. God punishes us (his children) with pain because he loves us and wants us to grow in him. We should do the same for our children.

  6. SisterinChrist
    December 1, 2008 at 10:33 PM

    K.T. and Kathy,

    I disagree with you both, but I respect your opinion and know you are doing what you believe is right. I’m thankful to you both for wanting to bring up good kids in our world. 🙂

    Most of my friends growing up were “not” spanked, and they all turned out to be highly successful, confident, well-adjusted, respectful and classy people. I know some people that did “not” turn out well though (drugs, slackers, low in confidence, lack of respect for authority), and they were all raised with very good, Christian parents but were all spanked!
    I honestly believe (as I have seen happen) that in many kids, spanking can actually have the opposite effect and create a rebellious child who does “not” respect authority, and this can last into adult years. Spanking does not guarantee a God-fearing, respectful person later in life. If spanked kids turn out well, I believe they do so “in spite” of being spanked, not because of it.

    It’s great that you stopped spanking your kids at a young age. Dr. James Dobson says not to spank after age 6 – he says it stops working after that age. Kids are older by then as well, and it becomes embarrassing for them to be spanked, as it’s administered on a private and sexual area of the body. Spanking has become highly sexualized in our society today. Have you all seen the news stories that come out from time to time of grown men spanking a “grown girl,” in school… usually over something silly as well? So creepy, and how violated those girls must feel… So for any of you who do spank, “please” listen to Dr. James Dobson and stop at age 6!! Actually, stopping at age 5 is better, since that is the age that most kids start remembering things.

    I was spanked growing up, but not in an abusive way and also not very often. My parents were loving and kind, and they did what they felt was best. Also, I was a sensitive child, and it was always traumatic for me to hear my siblings being spanked. They weren’t spanked often, but the few times really stand out to me.

    Spanking has caused negative issues for me that I have had to deal with in my adult years. Yes, I turned out to be a good person, but believe me, I would have anyway! However, I’m also lacking in confidence, despite being an intelligent, good person, and you would never know it if you met me, but “I” know it. It has greatly held me back in life. I can’t help but thinking I’d be a more confident person had I not been a “scared” child who felt humiliated every time she was spanked and grew to be “intimidated” by authority and those older than her… I still feel that same intimidation today… it’s a feeling of inferiority that I have around my elders… almost of feeling of that what I have to say isn’t worthy of being heard… and again, I wasn’t spanked often.

    Also… did you all realize that spanking hasn’t been around all that long? It was “made up” sometime around the middle ages by Catholic priests who thought it would be a good idea to spank “grown women” to cleanse them of their sins. Tell me ladies, if a grown man spanked you, or even tapped you on the rear, would you not feel sexually violated? How do children feel who are also hit on this private area of their bodies? (Especially when done by a non-parent!!). Creepy… and definitely something to think about.

    ****So my main point, if you’re going to spank, please stop after the age of 5 (before most memories are formed), and again, Dr. James Dobson recommends stopping at age 6, as he says it’s not very effective after that age. Also, he says that if your child is ADD or ADHD that spanking might actually make their behavior worse, so please be mindful of your child and their individuals needs and struggles.

    Blessings to you all,


  7. Joy
    December 2, 2008 at 9:39 PM

    Thank you so much for your stand on the Word Of God.So many people this day and time want to change the Bible rather than the Bible changing us.As a young mother of four it is an encouragment to know that there are other women my age that will still stand on what thus saith the Lord!!!!
    May God bless you for the shining light you are in a dark world.

  8. SisterinChrist
    December 5, 2008 at 3:34 PM


    Where in the bible (one that is properly translated from Greek or Hebrew, like the ESV or the NASB) does it say to hit your child on their rear end if they misbehave?

  9. a stong christian mom
    December 19, 2008 at 10:57 PM

    To those who don’t believe in spanking,

    I would like to start off by saying that everyone is entitled to their own opion and views about the Bible. You can take one verse from the Bible and read it today and then read the same verse in week, you will more than likely apply it in diffrent ways, depending on how things are in your life at that point in time.

    Now going back to spanking your child. Has any sat down and thought about the children and teens in the world today? What about school shootings and kids killing kids? For a fact I can tell you the parents of alot of these children had never spanked them. Maybe a spanking while growing up EVEN AFTER THE AGE OF FIVE would have corrected their problems. I feel like most of you as a mom that spanking is sometimes harsh but only if it’s not done with LOVE or done in ANGER.

    I am a mother of 3 great little boys, 9 yrs old, 5 yrs. old & a 3month old. Without a doubt I love my children with all my heart and would lay down my life for them. By saying that I do firmly believe in spanking my 2 oldest boys. Now we as a christian family do not speak curse words, use drugs, or drink. My 5 yr. old has added a new word to his speaking (curse word). The first time I heard hime say this word I sat him down and let him know we would talk this way and if I hear it again then he would recieve a spanking. That was his warning. Well he has used the word a few times since and yes I did follow up with the spanking.The last time he said it he knew that it was wrong and knew he would recieve a spanking and he did. He has not said it for some time now. This worked with my 9 year old and thus far has worked with my 5 year old. No they do not go around people who say these words but they are in school and hear all diffrent things. It’s our job as parents to teach them that it is not what christians say and Jesus is sad when we do it. (I have found out that telling children Jesus is sad work alot better until they reach the age to understand more.


    As a child I was to spanked but I was spanked all the time. You see my father was a drunk and far from God (now he is a very respected child of God and an outstanding decon of a church). He I guess you would say beat us as kids and even as teens. No I am not one with low confidence or even intimidated. Yes i knew that sometimes I knew that I was going to get a “spanking” because I had done something wrong and knew better. It only took once or twice and then I didn’t do it again. I consisder myself to be a well rounded person & thank my parents for spankings, it tought me right from wrong. I also believe a child should remember a spanking so in the future they know not to do it again. So what if it’s after the age of 5. What I mean by that is, what if your teen has gotten into your meds. (that were put in a safe place you thought) and took them to school and and passed them out to 9 & 10 year old children and told them it was candy. Now your child has gotten caught and kicked out of school (mind you after the children had taken them), how would you correct him? Well this happened to young boys and girls at my sons school. I personaly know the childs parents and no they do not spank, they talk. I feel a good old fashion spanking every once in awhile is fine and should be done with LOVE along with a talk on why it should never happen again.

    No the Bible never says to spank a child on their BOTTOM but it worse to be hit in the mouth or on the hand where there is no fat. I know. So where should it be done? By spanking a child on their bottom is not in anyway a form of sexual abuse. IT’S CALLED JUST WHAT IT IS A SPANKING! By saying that the only people allowed to spank my children are me and their father, grandparents, and the principle at school. My boys are very good children. I know that I have done a good job thus far because just a ouple of months ago my oldest was saved and baptized. So something is working.

    I can also say there are some children that never need a spanking and respond to a “verbal spanking” or talking to. That’s great and how lucky are the parents of those children. I wish I never had to spank my boys but they do wrong just like most all other boys and a talking to doesn’t always work.

    In closing,

    I would like to tell everyone it really doesn’t matter how we believe or our opions. All that matters is that we believe in the same LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST OUR GOD. I thank when we get to heaven God will correct us on our belifes and opions. My prayer is not weather or not children should be spanked. It is that our children be loved, be shown love, and most of how to love. If they are tought how to love just think of how much of a better world this woul be. No killing, no gangs, no drugs, no guns, no hate towards other. How gret that would be! Before we can teach our children to love we must have God in our heart and love ourself.

    May God Bless all of you

  10. SisterinChrist
    December 20, 2008 at 7:56 PM

    A Strong Christian Mom,

    I agree that love is the most important thing. If we don’t have love as Christians, then nothing else really matters. I have sadly met many very strong Christians who were so legalistic that they forgot all about love and compassion. 🙁

    While spanking can work, so can other, non-violent ways of discipline. In the European countries that have “banned” spanking, teen violence has gone “down.” So “not” spanking also works. 🙂

    I am certain that there are other methods you could have used with your boys to nip their bad language in the bud other than spankings that would have worked just as well.

    I believe that when children obey simply out of “fear,” that they can too easily end up with feelings of resentment and rebellion. While negative reinforcement is sometimes necessary, it doesn’t have to be violent, and “teaching” right from wrong and discussing things goes a lot further than a spanking, and I think this does a lot to maintain respect between both parent and child.

    Also, I’m sure that you as an adult sometimes make mistakes. Do you feel you should be spanked? If your son accidently used a bad word but then immediately corrected himself and said he was sorry, there should then be absolutely no reason for a spanking…. I hope you at least agree with that?

  11. SisterinChrist
    December 20, 2008 at 7:58 PM

    A Strong Christian Mom,

    Wanted to add that using all caps comes off in cyberworld as if you’re yelling, and it can also come across as though you’re talking down to the other person. I’m sure you didn’t mean it as that, but I just wanted to make you aware. 🙂

  12. a stong Christian mom
    December 21, 2008 at 9:23 PM


    By no means I use caps in a yelling matter. They were used because I felt it needed to be noticed. Yes I have tried to use other methods of correcting my boys, like time out, no t.v or games, etc.. Yes some of it has worked in the past and continues to work. Although there are times it doesn’t and that’s when I go to spanking. Like I had said before no mother likes to spank their child but when nothing else works sometimes you have to. I don’t find it to be violent at all. I consider “violent” to be when it’s done out of anger or spanked to the point where marks or bruses are left. Which I have never done. Yes I do make mistakes as an adult and it would be kinda silly to get a spanking. I would much rather have the physical spanking rather than some of the other things we as adults have to go through when we mess up. As an adult we pay for our mistakes daily. God corrects us for our mistakes in many ways.

  13. Lindsey
    December 23, 2008 at 12:48 PM

    Wow…hot, hot, hot! Say the word “spanking” in a group of moms and you are sure to have an interesting debate! 🙂 I’m a young mom. I’ve been a Christian for many years. I feel like I know my Bible well. I have always thought (and many others would agree) that the book of Proverbs is not meant to be taken “literally”. Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. <- Figure of speech.
    I do not think that the Proverbs about a rod on a son or a rod for the back of a fool is meant to be directed at a young child.
    The verses that I refer to when I think about how I should parent are:
    1 Thes. 2:7-12.
    “a mother “gently” caring for her young children” and “a father who exhorts, encourages and implores his children to walk in a manner worthy of God.”

    I am called to be Christ. To display the fruit of the spirit in my life towards my children. I view my kids: just as sinful as I view myself, just as much in need of grace and mercy of Christ as I am, wanting to do what’s right, but sometimes making the choice to not do it.

    I look at Jonah. God called Jonah to obey. God allowed Jonah to choose. Jonah made a choice. God allowed him to make that choice, allowed him to suffer the natural/logical consequences of that choice and Jonah learned, he took responsibility for that choice and made a right choice. I think the best thing for our kids is to give them lots and lots of choices and then allow them to learn from those choices. We can’t force obedience, we can’t force potty training, eating, sleeping, we can’t force accepting Christ. They are all choices our kids have to make for themselves. I vote for choices and logical/natural conseqences. Check out the book, LOVE & LOGIC. A great book! I’ve read Shep. a Child’s Heart and I think the idea of the heart is great. The method is not.

    To the lady refering to kid these days and how “bad” they are. The world is bad. Families are falling apart insie and outside of the church. I don’t think it is do to a lack of spanking, but due to the disfunciton of the family.

  14. SisterinChrist
    January 2, 2009 at 2:07 PM


    Thank you so much for posting your beautiful comment. It’s refreshing (and comforting!) to know there are other women who visit this website with views like yours. You brought up some great points, and I really enjoyed reading your post. 🙂

    To All,

    I hope that those moms who do spank always do so in “private.” I was at a holiday party in an upscale part of town with classy and intelligent people. Unfortunately, the granddaughter of the host brought her children along and repeatedly raised her voice at her kids and even swatted one of her kids in front of the guests. It made for a very uncomfortable situation, and even worse, how embarrassing for the child she swatted. I know she was just a young, frustrated Christian mom trying to do her best, but her behavior was very inappropriate.

  15. Amanda
    January 8, 2009 at 8:07 PM

    I am not an expert on this, but from the things I have learned in my psychology textbooks, I have come up with something…
    There are different types of parenting styles: authoritarian (parents word is law in the house, misconduct brings strict punishment), authoritative (set limits enforce rules but also listen to child-when child does something wrong, tell them why it was wrong), and permissive (few demands, low expectations for child’s maturity, rare discipline) parenting.
    “When you can compare the children that are spanked to the ones that aren’t you KNOW that it is important.” I understand the point that you are trying to make Kathy, but the behaviour of these children might not be directly because they were not spanked. “Permissive” parents seem like they would be less likely to spank their kids than “authoritarian” parents. My textbooks taught me about correlation and causation. So what I’m trying to say is that maybe the kids’ bad actions are not caused by not being spanked, but the two are caused by a common factor. For example, in certain cities ice cream sales and crime are both up at a certain time. The high ice cream sales do not cause the crime rate to go up, but they are both caused by the heat. Both the lack of spanking and child’s lack of obeying the rules may be caused by the parents’ mindset. Some of the children who are not spanked may also be completely undisciplined. That may be how some children who are spanked, and some children who are not spanked turn out fine; and it may also be why some children who are spanked and some children who are not spanked do not turn out fine.
    In other words, it is easy to confuse a lack of discipline altogether for a lack of spanking.
    Of the above parenting styles, my current textbook says that authoritative parenting is best. However, I think that the parenting style depends on the child. There are some children who need guidance, but they can turn out well if the parents explain to them that the bad things they are doing is wrong, they will understand it. There are other children who need more strict parents; these children would benefit from being spanked.
    In other words, the question of whether or not spanking should be used should depend on the child.
    I am not an expert on this; far from it. This is just a theory that I think makes sense.

  16. SheAnna
    April 22, 2009 at 1:08 PM

    I agree to spank a child is the best way to show the child that there is consequences for there actions and the severity of an issue, including disobedience. What most people compare spanking to a violent act should not be. When done with self control and in love then followed by prayer, it works. Yes you can definitely see the difference in children who arnt spanked and i also tried this wrought and it did not work. My oldest boy just refused to listen he even began to hit at me and that’s when I knew something had to change, so I began spanking on the bottom w self control and he never again tried to hit me and even rarely repeats an action that hes been spanked for. So for those of you on the fence of to spank or not to spank, read Gods word and some disciplining books based on scripture(To train up a child, and A Godly Home). No God does not spank us but we do have consequences to our actions and that is what a spanking is. God bless all of you and you children.

  17. Kristal G
    July 19, 2009 at 10:15 AM

    I think that children should have a “healthy” fear of their parents. What I mean by this is that they need to know that if they do something wrong, there will be consequences that they will not like. When they have done something wrong, they need to associate it with a negative consequence. When they are too young to communicate, a slap on the butt or hand may be just what they need. I love that my husband, who is a wonderful person, never was spanked when he was a child. All his father had to do was get out a belt, and although he never whipped him with it, my husband knew what it meant. He knew that if he did something wrong, there was a possibility he would be spanked. This worked and deterred him from bad behavior. Sometimes you don’t even have to spank your children–you just need to let them know in some way that they will be disciplined if they choose to act inappropriately.

  18. Maria
    January 8, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    The “rod of correction” referred to was/is literally a shepherd’s staff. Does the shepherd hit the sheep to guide it? No, he uses it as a means of herding, guiding.

    “Spanking” is just another word for “hitting.” Why is it okay to hit a defenseless child, but not okay (or legal) to hit a dog?

    I don’t understand examples of “spanking” a child for running into a street or for reaching for a hot stove. In your example, using the word “NO!” or “STOP!” can work as effectively to “surprise” the child so that they would likely immediately stop what they are doing.

    Lastly, just because some people claim that they are well adjusted “because” they were spanked, doesn’t mean that others weren’t mentally scarred. There’s a difference between causation and correlation.

    It breaks my heart to see parents so willing to hit their child. And, yes, I am a mother of three who has never, ever, once hit or “spanked” any of my children. They learned lessons through verbal correction and example. There have been, and I am sure will continue to be, plenty of learning opportunities, plenty of moments of frustration, plenty of times when we wonder if we’re doing right by them.

    They are in no way perfect, but we’re pretty happy with how they are turning out. They are well-behaved, do well in school, contribute to the household through chores, and go to Church every week with us. They are kind, empathetic and generous. They respect their elders and their peers. As for how they will be as adults, well, we’ll have to wait to see what the future holds.

  19. Steve
    May 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    Candace, I can’t tell you how happy I am that you “corrected” the mistaken view held by so many Christians that Jesus is some sort of antithesis to the “God of the Old Testament.” I am a Jew who studies Jesus within the context of my academic studies, particularly with regard to the Jewish Milieu of the Gospels, and am always somewhat miffed when Christians “de-Judaize” Jesus, and make him out to be this unfortunate soul born into Jewish skin, who couldn’t wait to get out of it.

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