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How to Discipline Older Children with Love

A camper and a counselor

Discipline styles begin to change as kids get older. The days of taking away toys and putting them in time-out are in the rearview mirror all too quickly. Ashton relays some great ideas for loving our older kids well with solid discipline.


My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

Proverbs 3:11-12


The Lord disciplines His children because He deeply loves us and desires for us to be refined in HIS image. When it comes to disciplining, allow yourself to move out of a place of frustration and into a place of desiring your teen to bear the image of Christ. As your teen changes what can be some ideas for disciplining them?

We can see what God says about discipline in Proverbs 3:11-12.  That is a reminder to aim for discipline, not punishment, setting aside anger and frustration when our child messes up letting love lead our reproof.  We each have our currency.  Find what it is for each child and remove it.  Here are some suggestions for starters.

  1. Remove electronics: We live in a day where phones are basically an extension of our bodies and it’s no different for teens. If you’re setting up a rule make taking away their phone, social media, Xbox, TV or any electronics as the first to go. What’s important is setting up the consequence before so they feel fully communicated to. Set up your, “if, then” rule. If you don’t follow this rule, then your phone will be taken away for 24 hours.
  2. Limit time with friends: If your teen is having issues stemming from their friendships then take time away with friends.Cancel those special plans they had this weekend and allow them to spend more time with you and the whole family. A few days away from friends may lead to some good quality time with you and they’ll rethink their actions the next time.
  3. Provide more responsibilities: Most teens are wanting to be treated like adults. They’ve “out grown,” being told what to do. As a form of discipline give them more responsibilities around the house, assign them tasks you would normally do…schedule the dog’s vet appointment, plan meals for the week, make the grocery list, and go to the grocery store to get them, and/or serve their siblings. Allow them the opportunity to grow as an adult and to gain your trust back.

Proverbs 15:5 says, “A fool despises his father’s discipline, but a person who accepts correction is sensible.” Communicate often because the more the line of communication is open, the more comfortable teens will be with correction.

Take a step into their world and meet them with empathy. Remind them where discipline comes from, it’s not to punish but to refine. Remind yourself of Proverbs 10:12, “hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” May everything we do, including disciplining our older kids, be done in love.

Camper Corner

What I’m about to say may seem crazy, but have you ever thanked your parents for disciplining you? I know, it’s nuts, and looking back I would’ve never thought to do it. What I can confidently say though, is I’m thankful for their rules. You know why? It showed me they cared for me, and about the person I was growing into. Memorize Proverbs 3:11-12 and write it on your heart. If you’ve done something wrong, humble yourself to their discipline. I understand it doesn’t feel good at the time, but they do it because they love you.

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