With some people agitating in California to outlaw the spanking of children under age 3, my mind has again been drawn to the idea of and my beliefs about corporal punishment:
First let me say that the only time a child under age three deserves a spanking is when their behavior will cause them bodily harm. Swatting a hand as it nears a hot stove, a good butt swat when your kid takes off in a parking lot--those are reasons to spank a toddler. Spanking a toddler for bad behavior seems a bit heavy-handed. Again, my opinion, but it shouldn't be law.
When we tried putting Marley in time out, she would get put in one of the chairs we have beside our chess table. She would be free to wail and thrash around, pitching more of fit usually in the chair than she did to get put in time out. Finally I got fed up and thought back to what my parents did to me when I was bad, but not bad enough for a spanking: The Dreaded Corner.
Standing in the corner ranks as the least enjoyable of all punishments. Being sent to my room meant I could play with toys, read, etc. The corner was 5-30 mins depending on if my Dad forgot about me or not (he'll deny ever forgetting, but since I'm a parent now, I know he's fibbing or fooling himself or at his advanced age has forgotten) of nothingness. I stood there, forbidden to lean against the wall, yet commanded to have my nose touch the wall in the corner. After about 30 seconds of that, the novelty wears off. It becomes torture. A kid wants to run around and be active, and being in the corner is not active. It is its antithesis. Marley hates the corner more than she hates a spanking. Sometimes she'll pitch a fit and refuse to get in the corner. I go put her in her room and when she finally calms down, I still make her stand in the corner. When she finally does it (sometimes hours later) then I know that she will have modified her behavior and learned from her poor actions.
I do not think time out in a chair is effective. It's too easy. Standing in the corner with no stimuli other than knowing that a cobweb is touching your forehead is great punishment.
I reserve spankings as a last resort.
four year olds are like teenagers in little bodies. All of the attitude, none of it earned.