Saturday, August 16, 2008

Disciplining Children

I’ve never liked the idea of hitting children. I felt that hitting won’t accomplish anything, if anything it will cause more hate toward the parent and the child will surely not listen. Additionally its painful to the child and I couldn’t stand to watch a child cry so much from getting punished.

I felt a punishment should teach them a lesson not to repeat their bad action but at the same time it shouldn’t be too painful. So long as they learn their lesson there’s no need to make them feel more guilty. Plus a lot of times I believed that the reason why parents hit their children was more out of anger than for the child’s benefit. The parent was upset at what the child did and took their frustration out on the child.

Recently, I came upon an article of where a 20 year old had gone $5,000 over on her cell phone bill and was therefore hit by her parent, the 20 year old’s boy friend called the police and the parent was charged with domestic violence. I was wondering what the difference is if a parent hits their kid when their little or big. In either case its some sort of abuse. Although with little children they get away with it. But by little children it probably hurts them more and they can’t handle it as much as an older child that can deal with pain.

Then today I heard Shlomo Hamelech in Mishlei deals with this issue. He says there are three types of children. There is the Scoffer, the simpleton, and the one who understands. With each child he explains there is a different way to discipline them.

Basically he says that hitting will not accomplish anything in either child. But he says with the scoffer no sort of punishment could help him. There is no way to correct his actions. However, with the simpleton, you shouldn’t hit him because it will cause resentment. However, by hitting the scoffer the simpleton will see and will change his ways (the scoffer will not be harmed by getting hit). By the understanding son he says you should talk to him and explain to him what he did was wrong and he will be able to correct his ways.

“Strike the scoffer and the simpleton will grow clever; chastise an understanding person and will understand [even more] knowledge.” (Mishlei 19:25)


  1. Now I'm not so sure about the scoffer thing. As a professional scoffer I can tell you that being hit is no fun at all. Though it is good for comic relief later.

  2. I don't hit my kid but I lightly slap his hand. It doesn't hurt him physically but it sends him a message. He usually becomes upset, lies on the floor and pretends to cry. Threats work too sometimes.

    Actually hitting a child will only result in him fearing and/or hating you. Some kids behave badly because their parents don't pay attention to them and it's their way of getting some attention.

  3. actualy its interesting.

    in mishlei where it says spare the rod spoil the child, rashi learns out from the following phrase that after you discipline a child you should hug them and comfort them to make sure that they know that they love you and it should be clear that disciplining the child hurts you more than it hurst them.

    and in the gemorah its says that even when you discipline a child it should be with a shoe string and nothing more.

    people say that torah allows hitting your child, but it really doesn't, at least not like people think it does.

    you have to reason with him, and explain why he is doing something wrong.

    and sometimes when a child misbehaves, the best thing to do is to tell them to stop and when they do you go over and give them a hug big hug and tell them that you love them (nomatter what) and talk to them for a little bit, although maybe you should wait till the child isn't misbehaving so that you don't reward the misbehavior. that way they get the attention they need without misbehaving.

  4. I'm with Moshe.

    We've always tried not to hit but then it reaches a point where it becomes real loud screaming at her which is worse in a way.

    Instead, I warn her that if she continues her wrongful behaviour, I might potch. Then I slap her hand, she cries, I tell not to do that and we move on.

    She's a good kid so its usually not neccesray.

  5. Im with Jacob and Moshe.

    a little is okay but sometimes you need a major punishment and the lesson will be learned. After a while the child forgets and you can reward for something and the child you loves you and you love back.

  6. Moshe and Jacob Da Jew: I never thought of hitting a kid on the hand. That is definitely better than the face or other places. So long as it doesn't hurt them too much and they learn the lesson then I suppose it can be good.

    Moshe: I agree some children to act up to get attention, and then if the parent reacts negatively to it, then it will just get the child more worked up.

    I never liked the ideas of threats though. I might of once discussed it a long time ago. Now looking back I see you commented on that post: "I see so many parents giving empty threats...and then they wonder why their kids don't listen." Did you change your mind about threats since then, or its different because you don't give empty threats?

    Yoni: Sounds good to me. I remember hearing those stuff too. I see your gonna love your children and be a good father to them.

    JacobDaJew: Yea screaming can be very bad. Equally as bad as hitting. It can emotionally hurt the child. So in that case a small potch on the hand does sound better. Good thing that you warn her before, I like that idea.

    B"H she's a good kid. She looks adorable too!

    MikeInMidwood: yea I guess sometimes punishment is necessary otherwise you don't get anywhere. It's true at the end of the day they will love you no matter what. It is very important to reward them for good behavior too.

    If you look at one of the youtube videos I added to my list of recommended videos, there's this little girl who is able to point to all the places on the map when told the name. And its cute to see that after every time she points correctly she pauses and claps and says yay or something like that. Then her parents say yay too, then she continues on to the next one. So its because of her parents positive motivation that she was able to do such an unbelievable thing.

  7. Didn't change my mind, I just don't give empty threats.

  8. "Plus a lot of times I believed that the reason why parents hit their children was more out of anger than for the child’s benefit."

    yep. been meaning to blog about this.


    "people say that torah allows hitting your child, but it really doesn't"

    the שולחן ערוך disagrees with you

  9. lion of zion, just because the shulchan aruch says that you can doesn't mean that its good. the above agadatas clearly seem to say that you shouldn't, or at least not the way that most people do.

  10. YONI:

    1) i could be wrong, but i think we generally follow the שולחן ערוך over אגדתא

    2) i didn't say i thought the ש"ע was right. i was just responding to your interpretation of what "the torah" says on the matter.

  11. I strongly agree with your comments: using physical punishment does not accomplish anything. I just read a great book written by Jim Fay and Kristan Leatherman, from the "love and logic" collection, called Millionaire Babies or Bankrupt Brats The book provides simple and practical techniques to help adults have more fun and less stress while raising responsible kids. It has been life changing form my husband and I in raising our 3 children.

  12. LOZ, you can't consider the Shulchan aruch seperate from the aggados.

    Doing so is exactly why the cheredi world is so messed up.

    shulchan aruch deals with permitted and prohibited, but it does not constitute a worldview or a way of understanding life and the ideals.

    you have to know the aggadot in order to understand how to live your life as a good jew. thats why halachicaly, if you can't learn talmud, you're required to learn the basic halacha, and the aggadot and devote all of your learning time to knowing these things cold.

    and one of the aggadot is that you should never hit your child with anything more than a shoe string. (which means not very hard at all.)

    I don't think that i would be so upset about being hit in the method of the aggadot. infact, I think the world would be alot better place if people would follow that advice, never mind that I think that "hitting" need not be taken litteraly, and torah certainly considers other methods discipline, and further considers reasoning with your child ideal.

    (its assur to raise a hand against your child if you can try to reason with him.)


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