In my opinion, if you aren't willing to consider corporal punishment, you are unnecessarily restricting your options. If you don't believe in it but are willing to consider it, I will present the case for it as my experience shows it to be the most effective method for raising a happy, healthy, well-behaved child while fostering a loving relationship.
In my experience, most people opposed to corporal punishment feel that way because it makes them think of angry fathers beating their children with belts until DFS is called and the kids are taken away. That will certainly disadvantage your children and ruin your relationship with them.
Consequently, many people have fled to the opposite extreme: only using things like timeouts or taking away privileges. I don't like these because they rely on lengths of time to be effective. Instead of spanking a child's hand for 3 seconds then forgiving them and resuming to love them and play with them, you take away their toy for 30 minutes while they mull over how mean you are for taking their toy and how mad they are at you. I see people all around me using this method and producing children that are disobedient and, more importantly, unhappy.
However, there is a third option: do corporal punishment right. Sooner or later, we all have to learn that pooping on the floor is not an acceptable way to handle conflict. If we wait twenty years before addressing this problem, although it may not involve any hand-swatting, it will be much more painful than if we address it decisively at one or two years old by teaching them to associate bad behavior with hand swatting. Here is a simple list of all you need to know for teaching a young child how to handle conflict:
- Be consistent. The first time they disobey and every time afterward
until they resume obedience, immediately swat them on the hand. If
you slack off on this, they will immediately resume misbehaving.
Every time they disobey and you don't swat their hand, you're saying
(with your actions) "It's ok to disobey at least once because it
takes twice to make me punish you". You don't need to make them
scream and cry, just teach them to associate disobedience with a swat
to the hand.
- Be loving. Don't ever spank them if you're angry or not in control.
It is much better to be occasionally inconsistent than to turn
healthy discipline into violence. Even while your're swatting their hand, don't raise your voice, don't make angry faces at them, etc. Whenever I swat my daughter's hand, I explain to her, using my gentlest tone of voice, what she did wrong.
- Be forgiving. Straight away, as soon as they resume behaving,
accept them back and continue loving them, playing with them, or doing whatever you were doing before you needed to discipline them.
- Be graceful. Sometimes my daughter takes a second to do what I ask her. Sometimes she does something that's close but not what I wanted. Sometimes she tries but doesn't quite make it. I congratulate her anyway (we've been fist-bumping lately) and don't discipline her. It's her heart that counts, not whether she perfectly replaced whatever she took that she shouldn't have.
If you do this, I bet you will be amazed. It may take a while to sink in but, when they figure out that throwing a fit will get them a swat, they'll stop considering it. Instead of crying when you say "No juice for now", they'll continue playing and laughing like before. My wife and I get compliments all the time on how sweet and well-behaved our little girl is and I am certain this is why.
Keep in mind that doing this right is simple but not easy. Sometimes you will really not want to get up if they're misbehaving across the room. Sometimes, you may not be sure if they're disobeying or not. However, I am sure that with love, grace, and lots of conscious and deliberate effort, you can do a great job.
Although I have not tried it, I highly doubt this is an effective strategy for raising teenagers. We started doing this when my daughter began throwing fits, hitting, etc around 15-18 months. She is now 21 months and an angel. If your child is old enough to engage in logical, reflective conversation, I would highly encourage that approach first. However, as you have a three-year-old who appears to be out of control, this is what I'd suggest.