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PARENTING-----corporal punishment?

What is the halachic stance on corporal punishment? Is it advised that parents beat/hit/spank their children? At what stages of development would this be considered appropriate?

One reason I ask is that I was never hit my entire childhood, and I think I turned out fairly well.

I was wondering if Judaism supported this at all or if my parents just brought me up that way because it was the popular way to raise children at the time.

As a principle, corporal punishment is encouraged by the Torah.

All over Sefer Mishle, King Shlomo makes statements like "He who spares the rod hates his child" (Rashi: That is, he will come to hate him after the kid gets messed up), etc. There are special Halachos regarding how a Rebbe is allowed to hit his students during the unfortunate period of the nine days.

However. However, Rav Dessler ZT"L explains all this is contingent on the parents' attitude about the punishment. In other words, if the parents hit the child with the idea that by doing so THEY will get the child off their own backs, get the child to behave so that THEY (the parents) will no longer be annoyed, or to let out THEIR frustrations or anger on the child, all the child will learn from such corporal punishment is that violence is an acceptable means to get what you want, since the parents are using it to get what THEY want.

However, if the parents use the corporal punishment not to get what they (the parents) want, but rather totally and completely for the sake of the child's training, it will work.

I repeat this Torah of Rav Dessler to parents often, and they ask me how they can know deep down what their motives are in punishing their child. I give them an example:

Let's say your 4 year old kid flushes a little aluminum foil ball down the toilet. You punish him, since he needs to be taught not to flush things down the toilet. Maybe you scold him; maybe you even raise your voice. Whatever.

Now let's say the same kid flushes your DIAMOND RING down the toilet instead of a worthless piece of aluminum foil. Now here's the test. To the child, there is no diff between a shiny foil ball and a diamond ring. As far as his training is concerned, the two acts were the exact same infraction. If you will punish him with the exact same tone of voice and using the exact same measures when he throws away your diamond as when he throws away a piece of garbage, then you are punishing him for HIS sake. But if you freak out on him because it was YOUR diamond ring that he flushed down the toilet, you are punishing him for YOUR sake.

Know what I mean?

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