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Bible Verses That Address Common Behavior Problems in Children

Laura Kuehn, LCSW
Written by Laura Kuehn, LCSW

The collection of verses about behavior below can be used with your children when their hearts are soft following a misbehavior. But remember: God’s Word should be used to heal, not punish. It is an ointment not a weapon. These words are intended to disciple your children at a time of peace – not during a time of correction or conflict.

These verses work very well when used in conjunction with our method for more effective time outs and our Heart of the Matter Parenting Cards. These verses can also be used in every-day conversations, while reading stories together, or during family devotion times.

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All of these verses in this printable are taken from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible – a translation that is well-suited for children of any age. They have been updated to include “scripts” you can use with your children to jump-start a discussion about them. Adjust the wording to fit the age of your child.

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Self-control

God has shown us how kind he is by coming to save all people. He taught us to give up our wicked ways and our worldly desires and to live decent and honest lives in this world.

Titus 2:11-12

Possible script: God showed His kindness to us through the life of Jesus. Not only did Jesus come to save, He came to be an example for us to follow. That is not to say that we won’t make mistakes or that we have to be perfect, but Jesus’ life gives us a picture of what is important to God – like being kind and helpful to others.

God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways.

Galatians 5:22-23

Possible script: As a friend of Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. It can be very hard to choose to do right! But we don’t have to do it in our own strength. We have the power of the goodness of Jesus inside of us. All we need to do is ask Him for help.

Losing self-control leaves you as helpless as a city without a wall.

Proverbs 25:28

Possible script: When we can’t control our words or our bodies, we can hurt other people or their feelings. If you are feeling like you are losing control, you can get it back by deep breathing, squeezing something, asking for a hug, running in place, praying to God, or asking someone to help.

You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Possible script: God never causes us to sin – we choose to. In fact, He always gives us a way out. That is what this verse is saying. So, if you are tempted to do something wrong – pause for a moment and think: What options has God given me so I don’t go through with it? Look around – a way out will be there!

Obedience

I am the LORD your God, and you must obey my teachings.

Leviticus 18:4

Possible script: God is loving and and gracious. He forgives us over and over again – no matter how many times we do wrong. But that doesn’t mean we keep doing wrong. We can show God that we love Him by obeying Him.

But you also said that no matter how far away we were, we could turn to you and start obeying your laws. Then you would bring us back to the place where you have chosen to be worshiped.

Nehemiah 1:9

Possible script: God is so big and so near that no matter what we do wrong, no matter how long we may have forgotten about Him, He will always forgive us and never leave us. All we have to do is tell Him we are sorry.

Jesus replied: If anyone loves me, they will obey me. Then my Father will love them, and we will come to them and live in them.

John 14:23

Possible script: Isn’t it amazing that God lives inside of us? We get to be friends with GOD – the maker of heaven and earth. Knowing that makes our hearts want to obey Him.

Wholesome talk

Stop all your dirty talk. Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.

Ephesians 4:29

Possible script: This verse reminds us of how important words are. Words can hurt so we need to be careful how we use them. God wants us to use our words to help people.

All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body.

James 3:2

Possible script: It can be really hard to stop ourselves from saying things that hurt other people. But it’s even harder to not think them! We need remember to ask God to clean up our hearts so that what comes out of our mouths will be helpful and kind.

A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.

Proverbs 15:1

Possible script: When God sent Jesus to die for us, it was to make peace with us. Without Jesus’ sacrifice we would not be able to be friends with God. God is a peacemaker. He wants us to be peacemakers too.

Treatment of others

Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3

Possible script: Sometimes we want to be first or best and can focus on wanting things we don’t have. But God thinks it is better to want others to be first or best instead. That doesn’t mean that we can’t be pleased when we do something well or if we are good at something. He just wants us to think about others first.

Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Possible script: It can be really hard to forgive someone when they have done something wrong or hurt us in some way. But when we think of the mountain of things that God has forgiven us for, it’s easier to forgive the little pile of wrongs done against us.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed therapist who offers individual and parent counseling to individuals in Connecticut. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of her favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She is happily married with a young adult son and a teenage daughter.

40 Comments

  • I have a 16 y/o son, he’s always been well behaved & a good student. Last school year his grades started slipping & he doesn’t want to go to school, he sleeps a lot. I’ve taken him to the Dr to rule out anything physical. I’ve offered counseling, had family reach out, I’ve talked & talked. I’ve disciplined him by taking privileges away, things he enjoys. I reassure him he can tell me anything & I can’t help him if I don’t know how to help or what to fix. I’m hoping it’s just ‘being a teenager faze’ but how do I know for sure? If he’d just go to school & keep his grades up! His behavior is still good. I’m lost. I don’t know what else to try. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Wendy,
      Thanks for reaching out. These past couple of years have been tough on everyone. Especially for our youth. I assume the doctor checked him for metabolic and nutritional deficiencies/imbalances with lab work. If not, it would be good to rule all possibilities out. I also assume that he entered high school last year. For some kids, borderline learning difficulties (such as ADHD- inattentive type) immerge in high school when academic pressures and demands increase. That would be the next thing to investigate. You say he has good behavior – focus on and encourage him in the areas that are going well. Mood swings can be part of the norm for the teenage years, but you know your son best. If you think his behavior is worrisome, it’s time to seek out therapy. I recently wrote a post about how to find a therapist that is right for you. I hope that helps,
      Laura

  • I have a 6-year old boy who is ADD and has outbursts, kicking, being mean to his siblings, throwing objects, no sense of fear-will walk away from us while to another street on family walks . We have seen improvement with the medication he is on, but it is draining and no discipline sticks… he is also affecting his siblings’ behavior unfortunately. Help on parenting tactics to work with him!

    • I am sorry to hear of your struggles. This type of behavior can be very disruptive and exhausting. I hope that the prescribing doctor has given you some resources as medication alone is often not as effective unless combined with some parenting strategies tailored to this issue. I can recommend this website for parents who have children who have been diagnosed with ADD: https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-child-doesnt-listen/. I hope that helps.

      God bless,
      Laura

      • I want to offer you first my sincere and heartfelt compassion for what you are going through. I know as a parent you sometimes feel guilty about not enjoying your child and might question your love in the midst of the many Frustrations.

        While science has its way God has his and there are no Hacking biblical principles. I have 11 children and that came with so many challenges. Even as I am writing this I am having conflict with my 18-year-old daughter. Thanks be to God that 9 are following Jesus and have respect and the other two while struggling with their faith are well behaved.

        By the time I was 31 and my wife was 30 our last child was born so what I am about to share should carry some merits. Unfortunately, my take on things is not openly accepted in a society that look for the easy and quickest way out.

        First, you need to have a praying Home that’s Key meaning in the morning and in the evening without this everything will crumble. Schedule time to pray as a family inviting the Holy Spirit into the situation believing that God is truly able to bring peace into your home.

        Next, you need to develop your own personal time with the Lord so that you can cry to Him about wanting His outpouring in you home and on your family.

        This one is the hardest but extremely important under no circumstance to expose you, children, to Marvel, Avengers or anything that promotes Value, anger, killing, or any form of aggression especially games

        I would love to share more but I am pressed for time, I will take a few moments to pray for you, that the Lord will direct your path and give you the strength to keep calling on the name of Jesus

        God Bless.

        Second

        • My 9yo grandson is being ‘forced into appreciating’ these Marvel/Avengers. His dad is a depressed man who by mouth is a Christian but whose entire lifestyle is aggressive and without Christ.
          So my poor grandson tries to please him by showing interest in these and other things that are violent.
          My son in law is a tyrant to his family, and manipulates them, allowing himself to succumb to his own anger.
          Even as i type this I know there is no earthly relief to be had. Only God can change and build these poor broken lives. And I must release the anger I feel at the man who should be their protector not their punisher.

  • Hi Laura, I am not christian but I like those verses, currently I have two children hopefully can behave more likely after we educate based on those verses, thank you.

  • Thank you Laura. My wife and I are having behavioral problems with our son and don’t know what to do. We are a Christian family trying out best to raise our kids in Christian values, but lately our son has no self-control and is struggling to stay out of trouble. Making violent outbursts and threats against other children. We don’t exemplify these behaviors in our home so we don’t know where it’s coming from. I went online in search for Christian help and found you. Your devotion really helped me to think clearly and directed me to verses that were really insightful. Thank you. I am looking forward to more of your writings and hope your suggestions help.

  • I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s
    equally educative and entertaining, and let
    me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something
    that too few folks are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy I found this in my search for something regarding this.

  • I am having a moment where the enemy is using my 12 year old daughters father step mother against me my daughter has been very disrespectful play the adults is lying she recently went to her father’s for me to be informed against court order in visitations that they will not return her she has not been home my daughter is talking to me like she runs the show we have tried talking to her to no avail there’s been fighting lost tempers I’m so lost as a mother I need prayer for sleep peace during this trial

  • I have a grown son who says I will never see my granddaughter because we have had a disagreement and he was destroying the house he lived in with me, I asked him to leave, so I did not have to do anymore repairs, My heart is broken as I love my granddaughter, and would love to see her. I have apologized to him and asked if I could spend time with her, his response was with school and sports he is to busy, but when he gets some free time he would let me know, Any suggestions do I just walk away even though it hurts so bad not to see her. I have been praying but it is so hard when you love someone so much

  • My daughter is 12 I don’t know what else to do because she is acting out in school she was just recently suspended also bully’s. Her 10 yr old sister uses profanity on a regular basis and looks up inappropriate things on the internet. Help Help Help

    • Hi Ayana,

      I would first suggest limiting or completely restricting internet access for your 10 year old daughter. If she needs access for school work, it can be supervised. For the rest of the family, make it a rule that all devices need to be used in a public area. For your 12 year old daughter, I would suggest a meeting with the school social worker or counselor. Find out what exactly is going on. There are so many variables that could be affecting her behavior. Kids act out for a host of reasons but a professional that knows her would be able to help.

      Laura

  • Hi my name is ruth I have a 17 year old son that steels and lie’s about it sometimes he talk to me like he is the man of the house I can’t send him no where cause he just can’t. Do without touching I need your help please

  • For last 4 years I have went through troubles with my teen daughter. She runs away, lies, has had sex, disrespect herself and others, threatened her sisters, tried to fight me, cussed at me, skipped school,fought and had child protective service at my home me 3 time. I am at my whits with no help from law enforcement. They told me I cannot make her go to school, I can not stop her from leaving, so honestly I feel so helpless. She knows how the laws protect kids because she was at a mental institution twice and they explained things to her. She has took pills twice trying to kill herself. One time she was sent to mental institution for it. I don’t want my heart to harden.

    • Erica – my heart aches for you and your daughter. I would encourage you to continue to pray for her, no matter how lost she may seem. No person is beyond His reach. Also, may I suggest a book for you to read? Disappointment with God, by Philip Yancey, is a wonderful source of encouragement for people who are struggling through hard times. May the God of all peace and comfort give you the strength you need for each day.

      Laura

  • Hi. I have a tween daughter. We homeschool and I would like to talk to her about feelings and how to handle strong emotions better. Do you have any educational curriculum recommendations?

    • Hi Brenda,

      The tween years are fraught with intense emotions. While I have not read this book myself at this time, it is recommended by Focus on the Family and looks very helpful for the issues you describe. I am considering purchasing one myself as I think it might be a great resource for parents. I am not sure if this is what you meant by curriculum, but I hope it helps.

      Thanks for stopping by. God bless,
      Laura

  • I’m currently going through a really hard time with my 13 year old son he’s been disrespecting teachers at his school and just making some very inappropriate comments that really worries me because he’s in serious trouble they’re very strict at his school so they don’t tolerate anything that’s out of place he made a very scary comment to a teacher and now they are punishing him first they wanted to completely expelled him but then they decided to put him in a program where he’ll be isolated from his teachers and classmates until they see a change and difference in his behavior,attitude and temper and learns to communicate in a respectful way without making any rude comments this really has me worried and upset I just feel heartbroken because he’s a good kid is just his temper and the way hi says things that get him in trouble and I have tried talking to him and been there for him as much as possible and give him the best advice I can possibly give but nothing seems to work he just gets fustrated and and angry very easily if things don’t come out right or don’t go his way sometimes I just feel hopeless but his my son and I cannot give up on him specially casi know that all the things he says that get him in trouble he really doesn’t mean them he just blurs them out when he’s really frustrated or angry because of a certain situation please give me some helpful advice

    • Hi Marbi,

      I am sorry that you are in the middle of this trial. Trust that the Lord will see you through. You obviously care deeply about your son and want what the very best for him. Right now, it sounds like he could use someone to talk to – someone to help him figure out how to control his outbursts and address where they are coming from. I would recommend that you seek out the help of a trusted counselor. Your church clergy may have someone to recommend. Or you could use an online search such as this one: https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/ Now is the perfect time to intervene in this manner.

      Laura

  • I am truly lost with my child right now. At 14, she has now run away 4 times, experimented with drugs, and is exploring the possibilities of sex, lying, and stealing. I am a former Marine. I have tried just about everything from spanking, grounding, removing all freedoms, endless chores, softer approaches, she has even been face to face with local law enforcement threading her to change her ways or face them. She refuses to believe in God, yet I show her examples all the time. I feel hopeless right now and would love some advice.

    • Hi Jason,

      I am so sorry that you are going through all of this with your daughter. It is heartbreaking to see our children make such bad decisions. I am assuming that you have services involved such as counseling (individual or family) – but if not, I would suggest that you try to find someone you can trust. If you have a church family, you can ask a leader for recommendations or even your pediatrician.

      In the meantime, I would not underestimate the power of prayer in these situations. Stand over her and pray for her as she sleeps. Start your day asking God to give you hope and wisdom. I would also meditate on the nature of God – He wants to restore people. His main goal and objective is restoration of people who are lost – that is why He sent Jesus. Scripture says that His desire is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

      Read stories in the Bible about people who have been redeemed from hopeless situations (David, Elijah, Abraham, etc). Talk to others who have traveled the same path with their children come out of the other side.

      Please do not lose hope. God loves your daughter and He loves you too. He is in the midst of this and has not left you. I recently received a lot of comfort from a book called Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. I highly recommend it.

      I have said a prayer for you and your family. God bless,
      Laura

    • There’s a book called the five love languages and it’s the single version I don’t if ur single or not but that has nothing to do with it I’m just saying I read that version of the book and in there it talks about kids and why they misbehave and why they don’t listen to u when u disapline them. I would recommend that book. But I’m also a teenager and what I would do is just talk to her because mostly likely the reason she’s doing what she’s doing is she’s trying to get attention due to something. Or I’m guessing there’s something that has happened either in the family or at school or maybe it’s just the situation she’s in and she’s just hiding it by doing what she’s doing. I think u should talk to her and just head on ask what’s wrong.

  • My daughter(14) thinks she’s grown! I really need the Lord’s help, to open her eyes, ears, heart & spirit, to His word! Thank you, Jesus!!

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