While I was a school principal, from time to time a teacher would walk into my office very upset about the behavior of a student in their class. The teacher would go on to explain how rude this child was and how many warnings the child had received with no noticeable change. "I can't handle him any more. Please remove him from my class."

I would empathize with the teacher's frustration at not being able to get on with his or her job. I would then offer to spend some time talking to the child, allowing the teacher time to calm down, hoping that by then a more rational consequence would be found.

No matter how experienced and learned a teacher may be, s/he cannot play the role of witness, prosecutor and judge all at the same time. A judge who is involved in any way — whether the judge received a benefit from the accused or was personally hurt by the accused — is obviously not the right person to judge in the case.

The same principle applies at home. If one parent has become upset and angry at a child for misbehaving, it would be more appropriate to allow the other, uninvolved parent to deal with the situation and, if necessary, mete out the appropriate punishment. A punishment should be the consequence of the negative behavior, with the aim of preventing reoccurrence of the behavior. When a parent is angry, the punishment may come out as an expression of anger and frustration. The typical child will still feel loved and cared for with a punishment given by the non-angry parent in an assertive yet calm manner. When the punishment is handed down by an angry parent with a lot of emotion attached, the child will feel rejected and hated.

In the words of our sages, "The right hand should bring close while the left pushes away."

Our ultimate goal is to reach a point where the child behaves in an appropriate manner without the need of reward and punishment. But as long as this ideal has not yet been attained and we need to resort to employing the "left hand" to reject the negative behavior and hand down consequences, we must simultaneously employ our other hand and increase our positive reinforcement, with the "right hand" — i.e., the stronger motion and greater emphasis and — going to the positive, bringing closer activity.

Of course, this idea will sound very nice when we read it while away on vacation without our children, but may sound less realistic and practical while our child is causing chaos on a hot day in an un-air-conditioned car after a hard day's work. We can only work toward reaching this ideal. We should not however feel bad on those occasions when our natural instinct takes over. We should rather feel good and pat ourselves on the back on those few occasions when we successfully implement the principle of not dealing with the punishment when we are emotionally involved.

This applies to all areas of parenting and relationships. Our aim and goal is to increase the number and the frequency of times when we can apply logical reactions rather than emotional ones until, one day (hopefully while our children are still at home) it will become second nature.

Try it — it works!