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Smacking - Does it really enforce discipline?

February 5th, 2021
Smacking - Does it really enforce discipline?
Children can be really difficult at times especially when they are shouting, screaming and fighting the world. The big question is – can a smack help in such situations?

Smacking is banned in 29 countries and the first country to impose the ban was Sweden in 1979. In the UK smacking by a parent or carer is also banned except when it can be deemed as ‘reasonable punishment’. Interestingly, 80-90% of parents believe that a carefully delivered smack (as opposed to one sparked by anger frustration or, embarrassment etc.) can be effective - importantly, there is no evidence that smacking is an effective punishment at all. In fact, it can be known to cause emotional problems.

The argument ‘ I was smacked as a child and I turned out fine’ holds absolutely no weight because you don’t know how you would have turned out if you had not been smacked. Just because you were smacked, does that make it right?

Few other topics divide parents as much as to smack or not to smack...

Here are some reasons why you should never smack your child:
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If you feel that smacking does work you may have also noticed that the effects of smacking do not last long and could in fact trigger other emotional problems in the future.

Smacking teaches your child violence. You may be horrified to learn this, but you lead by example, although your child does not try and get their way by being physical, they may well do so later in life. It is a sad fact that that the child who is bullied, becomes a bully themselves with their peers.

Smacking might make your child stop their actions, but it will not deal with the root cause of your child’s behaviour. This needs to be dealt with in an appropriate way so that your child learns WHY their behaviour or actions were wrong.

Your child will learn to be deceitful and do whatever you disapprove of, when they are out of your sight – they will not have learned why their actions should not be done.

Smacking your child can damage your relationship with your child. Your relationship should be based on love, compassion and mutual respect. Your child should not be scared of you or bewildered by your punishments – ask yourself the question, would you be happy if your partner treated you in this way?

Your actions will not teach your child how to deal with their anger. You will also take the control of their body away from them. The bottom line is that because you are bigger and stronger, you could physically hurt your child – imagine how you would feel then.

Great alternatives!!

Praising and rewarding for good behaviour is essential and rewarding with extra quality time together for a walk or a story works well. A smiley chart can work well as it is positive and again, one day of smiles can earn your child an extra book at bedtime!

Sometimes if you suspect that the bad behaviour is attention seeking, just ignore it and your child will realise that it wasn’t very effective!

Time out is a popular remedy.

Having a naughty step or chair or a separate room is ideal. Your child should be asked to stay there for a certain amount of time – say ten minutes – so that they can calm down and regain their composure. This method is great, but in order to work well, your child has to have plenty of ‘time-in’ with you so they feel the difference.

Loss of privileges.

This works well with slightly older children. Explain to them that if they carry on behaving as they are they will lose a certain privilege for the rest of the day. Explain to them how to remedy the situation, for example, that if they tidy up all their books that are scattered on the floor they will be able to enjoy television again tomorrow….

It is pointless taking away privileges for more than a day because this does not have any more impact.

Children can certainly prove tiring and challenging at times and it is important that you find a method of punishment that works well for you! To end on an amusing note… on a long car journey my three year old son was not behaving well and I told him that he should do so or he would be put on the naughty stair, to which he replied-
‘Is the naughty stair in the boot mummy?’
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Chrissie x

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