Recognise that your child... Is just a child. He isn't an adult.
For the religion recognises that. Which is why he isn't held to account for any religious obligation until he hits puberty, and then he is treated as a fully accountable adult.
So you are not allowed to hit him (lightly with a twig) until he is at least 10 years old and even then for something as serious in the religion as refusing to pray. And this hit is not to punish, it is to discipline. Because it's not even a proper hit, it's light tap on the hand to make him pay attention.
So what is with parents who are so quick to pinch a 3 year old for spilling a drink? Or to shout at them angrily when they break something. As if this 3 year old should know better?
Where does this behaviour stand in our religion? I'll tell you where it stands. It stands on the side of oppression. Because you have harmed a human whose mind isn't even fully developed and is still figuring out himself and the world around him. That's unfair and that's oppression.
Rather, in disciplining a child, the way of our Prophet ﷺ is to always focus on teaching what is the right thing to do and emphasising it over and over and over (and overrrrr) again, or to remove him from the situation (eg, if he is hitting other children, bring him away and talk to him nicely, or take away the toy that is causing the fight, but don't hit him).
Our beloved prophet ﷺ was related to have never raised his hand, nor voice against ANYONE, be it man, woman, children, servant, or slave. Unless it was in battle, and even then it was usually on the defence and never on the offence.
Hitting is not the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Shouting is not the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Condemning is not the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Sarcasm is not the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Using harsh words or negative terms like stupid, naughty, clumsy, useless is definitely not the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Positive words of encouragement is the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Hugging and dhikr is the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Speaking with a soft voice and smiling face is the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Reminding, reminding, reminding, is the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Calling others with good positive names is the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
MERCY and FORGIVENESS and PARDONING is definitely the way of our beloved prophet ﷺ.
Especially, and especially so, to children.
May peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him and his family and his companions.
So where are we in following the way of this man whom we claim to love?
Notes by Farhana Munshi on a course on Raising Children entitled: 'The Family: Where to?', taught by Habib Tahir al-Attas. Hb Tahir is a graduate of Dar al-Mustafa and is currently working on his PhD on Family Affairs and has extensive experience in this field. He is also the founder and Principal of the Qur'an School, Dar al-Tanzil.