Children are the only people it is okay to hit.


Last night I was cruising around Facebook (as you do) and I came across a post about the new call to make smacking illegal. You won’t believe how it turned out.

I don’t want to name the page I saw, as they only asked a simple question: “What do you think about the call to make smacking illegal? Too extreme, or best idea ever?” Should get people chatting, yes?

I expected to find parents commenting along the lines of how maybe they don’t condone smacking, but making it illegal might be a bit silly. Instead, I was horrified to find comment after comment justifying the use of smacking. Here are some actual quotes from the conversation:

“Smacking is not abuse!”

“I smacked my sons, now they’re grown and they’re fine..”

“I was smacked when I was a child and I turned out fine.”

“If anyone has been affected by their parents smacking them when they were children, they should harden up.”

I was smacked as a child. A lot of people my generation were. There was no support or education for our parents who might have preferred other methods of discipline. I probably don’t remember a lot of occasions where I was smacked, but I do remember some. The occasions I do remember did not involve me ‘learning a lesson’, but rather being very afraid in that moment: of my parents.

That is not how I want my children to remember me.

Now, I’m no saint, and I have actually smacked my own children. More than once. But I realised that it was only an outlet for my own anger, and I asked for help to find other ways to discipline my children. There are plenty of resources for parents now, you just have to ask.

It is scientifically proven that smacking is not an effective means of discipline. You can argue with the scientists if you feel like it, but how about we talk about my favourite ways to get the point across to my children, just in case you want to try something different.

  1. Distraction: when my boys were toddlers and too young to really understand what I wanted from them, distracting them from the situation would help. Take them for a walk to look at the garden. Everyone has time to calm down.
  2. Remove them from the situation: when my boys are frustrated with each other and tempers are escalating, their behaviour can get out of hand. So we find something else to do until we are all happier.
  3. Appropriate consequences: let’s say we’re in the supermarket and one of the boys keeps pulling things from the shelves. He gets a warning to stop the behaviour, a quick reason why he needs to stop, and advance notice about what will happen if he doesn’t. Instead of walking with me he will have to sit in the trolley (which he hates) for three minutes. After that he can try again. If he still doesn’t stop he sits in the trolley until we’re done.

If you need help finding effective methods of disciplining your children,
I can highly recommend the 6 week course of the Positive Parenting Program (PPP).
You can find them here.

Let’s help each other out! What works for you?

Photo credit: Marco Nedermeijer / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


6 thoughts on “Children are the only people it is okay to hit.

  1. We like to use “time out’ and I find the Super Nanny very helpful!!!! I just used “Time Out” for 3 minutes in the middle of the shopping centre today… a few parents did stare, but I kept persisting for the whole 3 minutes… Every child is different and a ‘time out’ space works for us. But it did take a while and some ‘smacking’ to find out what works, but now have no smacking wherever we go…

    • That’s a good one. Though we’ve never called it time out, occasionally the boys get sent to their rooms, just so everyone can have some space for a few minutes… I guess it’s actually a version of that! 🙂

  2. I also find those comments rather shocking. Sometimes a sharp shock is what you need to get their attention and I have given my toddler a ‘sharp pat’ on her nappy but the cushioning (as they’re cloth) absorbs ‘the force’. I can’t imagine smacking a child without a nappy on and most of it is a release of my own fear/anger at the situation in hindsight. Try a read of some Montessori material- it’s quite fascinating and lots of practical info to (Paula Lillard is a good author) and never too late, whatever your child’s age. I feel really positive about parenting, understand how my baby’s developing and what to do next for her. I feel confident that I will be a good mum (though never perfect!).

    • Thanks Charlotte, I certainly will look into the Montessori ideas. It didn’t take me long to catch on that when I smacked my son it was more of an outlet for my anger rather than teaching him anything. But it’s very difficult to try something else when you are so sleep deprived and stressed, and you don’t know of anything else to do! As soon as I was taught a few options, it made all the difference. Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

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