Question: What does the Bible say should be done with a rebellious child?
Answer: When a child exhibits rebellious behavior, there can be a number of reasons for this. Hard, unloving and critical upbringing will almost always result in some kind of rebellion. Even the most docile child will revolt – either inwardly or outwardly – when receiving such treatment. Of course, this kind of upbringing must be avoided. In addition, it is natural for a teenager with some degree of rebellion against his or her parents as they slowly withdraw from their families in the process of establishing their own lives and identities.
Assuming that the rebellious child by nature has a personality with a strong will, it will be characterized by a tendency where it tries boundaries, has a dominant need to control, and insists on resisting all authority. In other words, the child is characterized by rebellion. In addition, these strong-willed, rebellious children are often intelligent, and can “figure out” situations at an incredible rate, and find ways to control the circumstances and people around them. For their parents, these kids can be an incredibly difficult ordeal and exhausting challenge.
Fortunately, God has created children like them and what they are. He loves them, and he has not left his parents without resources to meet this challenge. Biblical principles exist to take care of rebellious, strong-willed children through grace. First, we read in Proverbs 22: 6, “Encourage the boy to follow the path he should walk, even as he grows old he will not depart from it.” The path that every child should walk is directed against God. It is vital for all children to be trained in the Word of God as they need to understand who God is and how to best serve him. With the strong-willed child, it will help a lot along the way to understand what motivates it – the desire to be in control – so that it can find the “way” in life. The rebellious child is a child who must learn to understand, that it does not decide all over the world – for God does – and that it simply has to learn to do things in God’s way. This requires parents to be absolutely convinced of this truth and live by it. When a parent lives in rebellion against God, it will not be able to convince its child that it should submit.
Once it has been established that it is God who sets the agenda, parents must anchor the child’s mind to understand that they are God’s tools and will do every thing and everything necessary for God’s plan with their families to be carried out. A rebellious child must learn that God’s plan is for the parents to lead and the child to follow. There must be no weaknesses in this area. The strong-willed child can see long-term indecision and will immediately try to take the leadership role and take control. It is vital for the strong-willed child to learn the principle of subjugating authority. If one does not learn to submit as a child, the future will be characterized by conflicts with all kinds of authority, including employers, the police, the court, and military leaders. Romans 13: 1-5 clearly shows,
In addition, a strong-willed child will only willingly follow the rules and laws when they make sense of it. Give him a good reason for him to follow a rule, always repeat the truth that we do things in God’s way and that it is not negotiable. Explain that God has given parents the responsibility to love and discipline their children, and if they do not, it means that parents are disobedient to Him. But as often as possible, the child should be given the opportunity to help make decisions so that they do not feel completely powerless. For example, going to church is not negotiable because God commands us to gather with other believers (Hebrews 10:25), but children may have something to say (within the bounds of reasonableness) regarding their attire where the family sits, etc. Give them projects where they can provide input,
Furthermore, one should be consistent and patient in their upbringing. Parents must try not to raise their voices or raise their hands in anger, or let the temper run off with them. This will give the strong child a sense of control as he / she wants and he / she will quickly find out how to frustrate you to the limit where you react to your emotions. Often, when trying with physical discipline, it fails because these children enjoy pushing their parents to the breaking point, even so much that they consider a bit of pain to be a reasonable price to pay for it. Often, parents of strong-willed children tell children to laugh at them when they get their beating, so beating is probably not the best way to discipline them. There may not be any area in life,
No matter how desperate it may be to raise these children, parents can find comfort in God’s promise not to allow us to be tempted by ability (1 Corinthians 10:13). If God gives them a willpowered child, parents can rest assured that he has not made a mistake and that he will provide them with the guidance and resources they need for this task. In a parent’s life, there may be no other place where “praying incessantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) makes more sense than with a strong, young person. The parents of these children must spend much of their time on their knees before the Lord, asking for wisdom that He has promised to give (James 1: 5). In the end, there is comfort in knowing that strong-willed children who are properly raised will often grow up to become high-achieving, successful, adult people.