We’d all like to think that we are raising perfect, little darlings and maybe for a split moment after we birth our pride and joy, we truly believe it. But, it doesn’t take long for us to figure out that children are indeed born with that sin nature that Adam and Eve ushered in with their disobedience.
There are so many tools, tips, and methods out there to help deal with when our children “act out.” However, nothing addresses the human sin nature like the Bible so here are some verses that I find useful for correcting behavior problems in my kids. Also, I have a created a cheat sheet that you can download or print to help keep them on hand.
Note: All scripture is from the ESV translation of the Bible.
What the Bible Says about Children’s Behavior
These Bible verses speak to kids; they warn them of the consequences of not correcting behavior problems but also, the rewards of good conduct. These are important because it proves that us that God gives us the responsibility to discipline and correct our children. And, the Lord expects them, even from a young age, to learn a heart of obedience.
- Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
- Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. Proverbs 20:11
- Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 22:15
- The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15
- God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. Psalm 53:2
- Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Bible Verses to Use While Correcting Behavior in Kids
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” God’s word is the only right way to teach, correct and train our kids to have proper behavior that pleases God.
I have divided these Bible verses into sections with topical behaviors that will hopefully help in correcting any negative behavior you find in your kids. Of course, we have to “rightly divide” the word (2 Tim. 2:15) so we need to be sure that we are modeling the correct behavior and that we are using the verses in their entirety and for the purpose meant by the Lord. And, our motive and attitude behind them needs to gentle, loving, patient, and kind.
Obedience to Parents
God’s design is that our children learn to respect and obey us first so that they can learn how to properly respect and obey the Lord when they know Him.
- Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1
- Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20
- A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. Proverbs 13:1
- Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22
- Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. Proverbs 23:25
Obedience to Others in Authority
Whether we are instructing our children to obey teachers, church leaders, or government authorities, it is important to know that the Bible also stands firm on this kind of submission.
Side note: There are times in the Bible where disobedience to worldly leaders is encouraged because it goes against God’s word. And, of course, we need to have conversations about those who might abuse their power or authority. We never would want our children to disobey to their harm or the harm of some one else. Here is a good resource to consider: How to Teach Kids Godly Disobedience
- Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:1-2
- Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 1 Peter 2:13-14
- Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 1 Peter 2:18
- Obey your [church] leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17
Disrespect to Others
We all want to raise kind and thoughtful children. But, these verses also speak to forgiveness and doing good even to those who are unkind to us.
- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
- But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Luke 6:35
- Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
- For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
- If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20
Hurtful or Foul Speech
Ephesians 4:29 may be the perfect verse to memorize when it comes to our mouths. Also, check out this short devotion on Philippians 4:8: The Power of Our Words.
- But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Colossians 3:8
- Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
- Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4
- The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. Proverbs 15:28
- There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
- Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
Whining and Complaining
Whining and complaining may be one of my biggest pet peeves. I will not even listen to my kids if they talk to me in a whiny voice. I quote Phi. 2:14 often and try to check myself as well to be sure that I am not a complainer. I think this one goes hand in hand with our next section on ungratefulness.
- Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2:14-15
- Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
- Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9
- I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. Matthew 12:36
Raising grateful children in an entitled society can be tough. But, we can teach them to thank God every day for His presence and blessings. Plus, God’s word has so much to say about what to be thankful for.
- Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34
- For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Timothy 4:4
- Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
Fighting with Siblings
Some of the same verses that were used in the section on disrespect to others would apply here and probably some on our speech and self-control. This is just a short list of some that I like to use when my kids constantly bicker. It helps to use Bible verses that fit correcting a certain type of behavior for my kids.
- Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13
- I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. 1 Timothy 2:8
- Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:2
- So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10
I realize that children by nature are impulsive and are still learning to control emotions, but we have the responsibility as parents to help point out when they are out of control. These verses help them understand that God expects His people to live under the Holy Spirit’s control of their emotions, thoughts, words, and actions.
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
- A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28
- Be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. Titus 1:8
- Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
- Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Proverbs 12:1
Bible Verses for Correcting Behavior Cheat Sheet
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