Devotionals by Dr. James Dobson

The “Rod of Discipline”

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15

You may be unsure about the notion of spanking your kids. You’ve heard the argument—spanking will turn your child into a violent, aggressive adult. We believe otherwise. An occasional dose of minor pain is one of nature’s teachers. A child who touches a hot stove will only make this mistake once. Likewise a judicious, controlled spanking, when motivated by love and applied properly, is in keeping with the principles of Scripture (see Proverbs 23:14).

There are many conditions to proper use of spanking, though. Reserve it for moments of willful defiance only. Never spank when you are out of control. Never spank a child who is less than fifteen to eigh-teen months or over twelve years; spanking should taper off after age five. Spank only on the bottom (never slap a child’s face or jerk his arm, which can cause serious injury). Make spanking an infrequent practice, not a regular event. Remember that corporal punishment is a tool for teaching—not for venting anger or frustration.

We most certainly do not advocate indiscriminate paddling of your children. Child abuse is a national tragedy! Yet there are times when a short session over a bent knee—applied with care, wisdom, and a sensible explanation—will benefit your child. After all, it is scriptural.

Before you say good night…

  • How do you feel about spanking your kids?
  • Do you or could you employ spanking properly in your family?
  • In your home, what situations would warrant a spanking?

Lord, we want to be loving and effective with our discipline at home. When our children are defiant, calm our anger, heal our hurt spirits, give us wisdom, and let our actions bring us closer to each other and to You. Amen.

Listen to today's broadcast of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk at  For more from Dr. Dobson, visit the resource center at

This devotional is taken from Night Light for Parents. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reservedUsed with permission.

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Packed with the same wisdom Dr. Dobson has provided audiences for more than 30 years, Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk is designed to help families and influence the culture — all flowing out of a heart for spiritual transformation thru trust in Christ for every life. It's the voice you trust...for the family you love!

About Dr. James Dobson

James Dobson is the host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk. He is also the founder of Focus on the Family, where he served for more than 30 years.

A licensed psychologist and marriage, family, and child counselor, he was an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California for 14 years. He invested 17 years on the attending staff of Children's Hospital Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics.

Earning a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, he's authored more than 30 books, including his most recent bestseller, Bringing Up Girls. Dr. Dobson has also been heavily involved in governmental activities related to the family. He was elected in 2008 to the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley, the father of two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and the grandfather of Lincoln.

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