Although Rabbi Shmuley doesn't believe in spanking, he admits that sometimes children need to have an immediate punishment. "Physical punishment is a bad idea," Rabbi Shmuley says. "Unless it's an extreme circumstance." He says slapping children on their hands is acceptable if they've done something really bad, but that's as far as you should go.
Some people say that parents should never physically discipline their children, but Rabbi Shmuley says that parents should reserve it for a time when a child is truly out of control. "It's not for everyday discipline," he says. "Three or four times a year, and no more."
However, Rabbi Shmuley says that hitting a child is usually counterproductive, and there is a big difference between a slap on the hand and the use of violence to scare children. "One comes from a parent in control, and one comes from a parent decidedly out of control," he says. "Know the difference, stay under control and discipline with love—not fear. Only use something physical as a final resort."
Not sure how else to discipline your child? Rabbi Shmuley offers the following suggestions on nonphysical ways to control your child:
Tell your child to go to his room and stay there.
Use a timeout, and have a regular timeout corner in the house. "If you're out of the house when the situation happens, make them have a timeout wherever they are," Rabbi Shmuley says. "Then, take them straight home."
Deprive them of a certain privilege. Taking away a favorite video game or computer and television time are good examples, Rabbi Shmuley says.
Add extra chores around the house.
Give your child a severe verbal scolding. "You can tell your children why what they've done is wrong—and why they have to be punished as a result," he says. "Remember that whatever you threaten to do, you have to follow through with it."
"The debate over whether to smack your child's hand will never ultimately be settled, and parents must therefore do what they feel comfortable with. What we all agree, however, is that corporal punishment must be used very sparingly, if it is to be used at all. The best alternatives are timeouts and depriving your child of something they like so they get the message that you're the parent and the boss!"