Is Smacking Children Ever a Good Idea?

As a parent, I realise that deciding how you discipline your children is a personal decision, but I have always been very against any form of physical violence



Leading by example

I've always listened with great interest to opinions and arguments on whether smacking your children should be viewed as an acceptable form of discipline.

I am absolutely, 100% against it. In my view, a parent's job is to lead by example and therefore, smacking will always be seen by your child as an acceptable way to deal with a situation he or she doesn't agree with. We all know kids brains are wired very differently from adult ones; we need to teach them to process things maturely, and I honestly don't see smacking a child, or anyone else for that matter, as mature in any way.

But that's just my opinion, so does this make it wrong? Lots of parents see smacking as a sensible deterrent to bad behaviour, and who am I to judge?

Effective discipline?

For quite some time now there's been a theory that not chastising your child with a quick slap on the back of the legs or on the hand is the cause of all sorts of bad behaviour seen in children and young people nowadays. The short, sharp shock method of discipline seems very effective, and I can see how delivery of a swift slap would stop a child in their tracks pretty quickly.

My concern is - what then? Of course the threat of a stinging slap will most likely stop a child doing something, but shouldn't they not do something because they know it's wrong and it will upset you?

Trust and respect

The thought of slapping my kids makes me feel very uncomfortable. We have a loving, caring bond, one based on trust and respect, and I can't see how I would have achieved that by physically punishing them. It wasn't so easy when they were smaller, but now they know just from a stern look when they've crossed the line, and that if they push me further I'll raise my voice or take something away from them as punishment.

This has been especially difficult to achieve with my autistic son, but what sort of mother would I have been if I'd struck out at him, a child who finds it hard enough to fathom out the world and the behaviour of everyone in it? I know he would have felt extremely upset and confused if I'd 'lost it' and lashed out at him, and he would most certainly have mimicked this behaviour within his peer group.

Growing up

When they are still children, our offspring may very well toe the line and live by our rules, but they're not going to be children forever. I have spoken to countless people over the years who've been slapped by their parents and the overall opinion was always they same - although broadly they still had fairly good relationships with their parents, being smacked as children made them feel scared and anxious, and they wished they hadn't been.

They viewed their parents' behaviour towards them as a bit harsh, and it had left a subtle disengagement between them in adulthood. It's precisely this that I feel very uneasy about. As adults, we can figure stuff out by way of reasoning, but as a child, this skill is undeveloped. It's only later that we judge our parents for how they dealt with things.

Parenting is personal

As an adult, I wouldn't dream of giving my husband, brother or a good friend a quick slap if they did something I didn't like - although I can't say I haven't been tempted over the years! In that situation, I'd probably get a slap back, but kids aren't allowed to do that - very confusing I think!

Parenting is a very personal thing and of course, within reason, we should be allowed to do it our way, but I don't think I'll ever be able to see the positives in smacking.

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

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