Posted by: thaishin | August 8, 2008

Discipline for a toddler

Recounting the moments when my son (2 years 10 months old) was misbehaving:

1) Refusing to put on his clothes after his bath

2) Refusing to change clothes/putting on his shoes when we are about to go out and we have to catch a bus

3) Tumbling the chair over

4) Throwing my watch onto the floor

5) Making a mess of the clothes after we have folded them and about to put them into our closet

6) Pouring milk onto the floor and playing with the spilt milk

7) Pushing and shoving the curtains in the living room. Now, a few of the curtain flaps cannot be turned

8 ) Refusing to brush his teeth

9) Unrolling the toilet paper from its holder

10) Pushing the plastic container which he could sit in around the house. And he will be pushing the container fast, hammering the flooring edge at the fringe of the living room going to the kitchen.

Everytime he misbehaved, I would threaten to punish him. I would give him a warning before punishing him. When he was younger he tested me by repeating his behaviour after my threat and I punished him Now, he knows I mean business when I threaten to punish him. I believed it helped in changing his behaviour even though sometimes it is only temporary. However,  I do think generally he is better behaved nowadays, though he still need to be threatened once in a while.

Reasoning with them does not work at this age. Punishment is the best. Then he will know the consequence of misbehaving.

Wisdom from Proverbs 22:15:

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. (niv)

Proverbs 23:13:

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. (niv)



  1. We have 3 kids, 9 yrs (F), 5 yrs (F) and 1.5yrs (M).

    we have exhausted numerous canes thru the years (lost count) and still have some split ends ones lying around. It use to cost 30 cents, but now 50.

    One in my car under the matt.

    We don’t really use it unless really necessary. Do not reason with kids when they are 0 to 3 yrs old. No point.

    When disciplining, do not spank or cane them when you are angry. Likely you have the tendency to administer ‘harder’ strokes than the actual sin called for.

    My wife and i agreed on these:

    1.0 No spanking or caning when we are very angry.

    2.0 No shouting.

    3.0 Pray for wisdom from above

    4.0 Use the cane (thin ones) instead of hand. Thin canes inflict less internal physical harm and gives the right signal dosage at skin level. It heals within 2~3 days with light oilment. Heavier strokes may require 1 weeks to disappear.

    5.0 Adult hand is heavy and has high momentum when striking. It may result in internal injury which cannot be detected. Anyway, the Bible teaches us to use the rod. Nothing else is mentioned here like; hand; ruler; boiling water, poison etc… :)

    6.0 Cane only on bumb or thigh, if have nappy or clothings, remove them before canning. A flat ruler or wooden spetula (use for cooking) can be used on the palm, but not recommended as it may inflict more physical harm then necessary. Use with descretion. Also they need to use their hands often.

    7.0 The degree of pain should be enough to make them ‘wake up from their sin’ and cry. If not, you have wasted your canning effort. If so, don’t bother as it does not register. The amount of strength depends on individual kids. Many parents threaten and never punishes, pure waste of breadth.

    8.0 We do not threaten again for repeat offence. Once they done wrong the second round, the cane comes. No negotiations. This way, they learn real fast.

    9.0 Agree between husband and wife what mode of disciplining first. When one does the disciplining, the other stay out. If the kid runs to the other parent for ‘refuge’, do not entertain. This is to show both parents do not condone to the sin.

    10.0 Be consistent in what are considered punishable sins, what are not.

    Above all, discipline with love. The purpose is to bring the child to learn what is the correct thing to do and what is not.

    Also commit to the Lord, because all human efforts are useless if the Lord does not bless and guide us, and change the heart of the child.

    in Christ

  2. sin wei, thank you for sharing

  3. SW, your comments are very good.

    I just have 1 thought on using rod instead of hand. The adult hands are supposed to be caring and symbol of love. So use the hand and the kid is quickly confused.

  4. hi kongwah, thanks!

    God is a loving God, yet he will execute judgement and punishes in the most severe manner if we sin against Him.

    In the same way, parent’s hands function as providing love and care, can also be a ‘symbol’ of discipline. Although we try not to use our hand, but in all practical sense, there were very few occasions where we use the hand out of convenience, eg. outside of home (without a cane). We only use the hand when they are older, ie. physcially bigger and less chances of injury. We do it privately, ie. bring the child to a quiet corner and do the spanking. No spanking in public please. Respect the child and the child will respect you. If you spank them in public, they will throw more tantrum in public to show off their rebellion and dissatisfaction. Most kids love limelight and tries to get attention and show off by making a big fuss. We never let this happen. It will be a downward spiral for the kid’s behaviour and very difficult to revert.

    Just to share:
    In my younger days living in kampong (village), my mom disciplines us with all sorts of things. We were very poor, so no money to buy cane. Anyway there are endless supply of branches and sticks. Stretch out your hand, snap it off from main bush, rip of the leaves, and you have a ‘cane’ within seconds. Usually such ‘canes’ provides multiple strokes in one strike, because its a branch, not a single rod…:) Very efficient tool..:)

    Apart from modified canes, my mom also uses bamboo sticks, rubber straps, pails, rulers, dog leash, ropes etc etc. My elder brother got the most caning. Being traditionally chinese, the firstborn usually is expected to be well behaved and be a good example to the rests. When my mom canes, all chicken runs away, cats went hiding, our 6 dogs will run into the woods, never to return till nightfalls. Once we (3 our us) ran and escaped into the woods while mom is caning elder brother. It was late afternoon. We stayed till late in the night in the jungle, bearing with hundreds of mosquitos. In the wee hours of early morning, we heard mom shouting for us to return. We did, only to find mom’s eye wet with tears, scolding and urging us to quickly finish up the already cold dinner that was prepared many hours ago. From then on, we understood all her love and purpose of disciplining us in the past. So using cane only or hand or other things, doesn’t really make any difference (at least for us) and we were never confused.

    All of us have grown up now. We never ever got any ill feelings with our mom just because she caned us and disciplined us severely when we were young. In fact its just the opposite, we understood what she had gone thru, to bear all our nonsense but yet still love and provide for all our needs.

    So i personally do not see any issue using the hand to discipline provided it is done with descretion and control.


  5. just to share an article i wrote some years back on traits of a Godly Mother. Transcript from John McArthur, pls go to link below

    • thanks sin wei

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