Two Pats on the Back
Children need two pats on the back. One high enough to encourage them when they do right, and one low enough to discourage them when they do wrong. Effective discipline requires knowing which end of the child to pat.

It's tragic that some children only get one pat on the back--or worse yet, those who get no pats at all (either to encourage or discourage). Getting just one pat on the back, whether it be the upper or lower, is not sufficient. There are some parents today who do not believe in administering corporal punishment (i.e., spanking). Seemingly they attempt to be their child's "best friend" as they praise the positive and overlook the negative. They deceive themselves into thinking that spanking is unnecessary or harmful to the child. The Lord Himself, through Solomon, communicated the fact that there is a need for physical corrective discipline (in addition to verbal correction, of course).

Consider the following four passages from the Old Testament regarding the lower pat on the back:

Proverbs 13:24 - "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly." Some are under the delusion that they love their child more if they do not physically discipline them. To fail to administer physical discipline or spanking, when it is needed, is to fail to teach the child the importance of obedience, submission, and self-control. Parents who love their children will discipline promptly; they will teach their children right from wrong and will not limit themselves to only verbal correction.

Proverbs 22:15 - "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him." Notice, it isn't called the rod of hatred or the rod of abuse, but the rod of correction. Children are naturally selfish and lacking in self-control. Parents who want their children to grow up to be wise will endeavor to remove the immature spirit of foolishness. God's word teaches that physical discipline is a valuable tool in achieving that goal.

Proverbs 23:13,14 - "Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod and deliver his soul from Sheol." An undisciplined child will grow up to be an out-of-control adult with many problems (one of them perhaps being a shortened life). Again, I am not advocating that one abuse his child. Spanking should never be an outlet for a parent's rage; it should be administered rationally, not in an emotional frenzy. Spanking will not kill a child, but it may help crush a rebellious spirit.

Proverbs 29:15 - "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." One leaves a child to himself when he does not administer corrective discipline upon the youth. There are many children who grow up being allowed to behave however they desire. Such parents may think they are being kind to their children in allowing such freedom, but they are mistaken. After the child is grown (and it is too late), many will regret failing to instill a sense of self-control and discipline in their offspring. They will regret not administering the lower pat on the back.

Friends, spanking is a form of discipline, and all discipline is a form of teaching. The physical punishment itself teaches the child that his behavior is unacceptable, and he will remember the sting and seek to avoid it in the future. Good parents will always explain their disappointment and why the punishment is being inflicted, as well as affirm their love for the child.

Properly disciplined children typically grow up to be self-controlled adults--which is something that all parents should delight in. Proverbs 29:17 - "Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul." God Himself is our example, for He corrects His children. Proverbs 3:11,12 - "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." Parents, let's do our best to love our children as God would have us love them. The daily need for an upper pat on the back (i.e., encouragement, praising proper behavior, and building self-esteem) is evident to all. However, the need for a lower pat on the back (i.e., corrective discipline) escapes some parents. If we truly love our children, we will apply both.