Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 22:15
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him"
This is the Hebrew word iwwelet which means fool, foolishness, foolish. The idea here is actually a deep theological truth. Since the sin of Adam – called the Fall – every human being has been full of selfishness or sin as a prime motivator in their lives. Little children, while innocent of any acts of sin, are still full of selfishness (sin) and will commit sinful acts as they get older. This is called the doctrine of original sin: That everyone is a sinner from birth because they come equipped with the principle of sin as a major piece of their operating system.
This crucial understanding is important to have an accurate picture of mankind. Those who have ignored this truth have invented half-baked philosophies that have no way of understanding how little children can be vicious, hurtful, and dangerous and blame it on environment. Children are full of selfishness from the moment that they are born, and it is the job of the parents and the whole of society to control this raging self-focus or a criminal will be created.
Every child every day thinks about getting what they want. They think about what would make them happy with little or no thought to what happens to others if they go after what they want. As one psychologist said, “Infants would rip your head off for their bottle if they were full grown.” It is this "I want what I want now" that must be trained out of children. They must modify this impulse for the greater good.
Notice that the proverb states that foolishness is bound up in the heart. This principle of self-dominance and self-focus is permanently injected into the operating software of their soul. They come equipped with this as their orientation to life: ME, ME, ME, ME...
Parents should not be surprised when their children are demanding, whiny, manipulative, and a thousand other ways of trying to get their own way. It is how they are basically programmed. This is how they are wired, but it is the parents' job primarily and the teachers, police, scouting, government secondarily to help dampen this impulse and replace it with the wisdom impulse. Children do not come wired to think what would please God, what would allow others to win, and what would bring a win to me. They think self.
What everyone has to come to grips with is that every person you meet has, as a prime impulse in their being, selfishness. This is why the American system of government chose to not give any branch of government complete power. No one can be completely trusted in this life. Everyone has selfishness coursing through their structure.
The foolish or selfish impulse does not serve you well, but it is a prime impulse and it is always there suggesting what you should do.
rod of discipline
This is the word Hebrew word musar which means discipline, chastisement, correction, punishment, instruction. It would encompass all forms of training and correction. The idea is that children cannot be left to themselves. Even though they are innocent of sinful acts, they have pulsating in them the principle of sin and will destroy themselves and others unless they are corrected, trained, instructed, reproved, etc.
Children will not turn out okay if we just leave them alone. The theory of the noble savage is hogwash. Each person has the principle of selfishness seeking to assert itself.
There are only a few different ways to train or correct a child, and they will all come into play at some time during the child's rearing. Here is a list of the general types of correction or rebuke that parents must employ to keep their children from giving into the selfishness that lives within them: verbal reminder or rebuke; isolation; withdrawal of privileges, chastisement or corporal punishment; restraint; practice or redoing of assigned task; extra work; physical exercises. All of these are appropriate and inappropriate at various points through a child's growing. What is absolutely clear from a Judeo-Christian perspective is that children cannot be just left to themselves to raise themselves. They need parents and adults to shape them. By the way, selfishness lives within the parents also and often wants them to ignore their children's behavior.