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Keep Smacking Your Kids
Smacking is an issue that has been widely debated over the last few decades.
In light of the new laws in France (which make smacking illegal) and the debate in our local news here in Perth a few months ago where a father was charged following smacking his child (which led to a poll asking the public whether smacking should be made illegal here) we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the issue of smacking and its relevance to parenting today.
There are many arguments for and against smacking.
I believe there is only 1 good argument for smacking, which is that it “stops behaviour immediately”.
So, if that’s what you’re trying to achieve, sure, you should smack your kids.
But, if you care enough to learn about the long-term effects and consequences to your child and our society in general, then it might be worth re-considering your view on this one.
First of all, I would like to know, are you one of those people who says things like “I was smacked as a kid and I turned out fine”?
If you are, well maybe you think you did, but what I want to know is did you actually turn out fine?
Are you telling me that you have never been aggressive towards another person or animal?
Do you think “hitting” is an acceptable way to control the behaviour of others?
Have you ever participated in any anti-social behaviours (e.g. particularly when you were younger: illegal activities like underage drinking, smoking, stealing, graffiti etc.)?
Have you ever had any mental health difficulties (e.g. anxiety, depression, feelings of “lack of life purpose”)?
When you were a kid, did you do things you knew you weren’t allowed to do, only if you knew you wouldn’t get caught (e.g. you knew it was the wrong thing to do, but you did it anyway. If mum or dad were close by there was no way in hell you would do it, for fear of getting a smack)?
Have any of these things I’ve just mentioned carried over into your adult life?
Do you do things just to avoid a punishment (instead of doing things because “it’s the right thing to do”)?
For example, do you only follow the speed limit when you know there is a speed camera? You know the risks associated with speed (i.e. you are more likely to cause an accident) but you do it anyway, because you’ve been conditioned to only do the right thing when you’re avoiding a punishment (you still speed when you know you won’t get caught!)
I’m asking you this, because the likelihood that you were smacked as a kid and have experienced (or still do) one or more of these things I’ve just mentioned is really high.
So, if you want to increase the likelihood of these things continuing in our society, then smacking your kids is probably the right thing for you to do.
But, if you think there could be a better way, I want to reassure you that there is.
There is over 50 years of research demonstrating that hitting (and not just hitting) essentially, any form of punishment, is no where near as effective as alternative forms of discipline.
That’s not to say that children don’t need to learn about consequences, they absolutely do.
The consequences just need to be directly related to the behaviour, and (in most cases) hitting the child has nothing to do with their behaviour.
If you’re interested in learning about some alternative strategies, which will result in more positive outcomes for your children, head over to “Alternatives to Punishment” section on our strategies page.
Just because we don’t believe in punishment, doesn’t mean we don’t believe in choosing appropriate behaviour and consequences for poor behaviour choices!
In the mean time, I would love to hear your thoughts…
Let us know what you think!
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P.S. If you’re interested in some of the research I mentioned earlier in this article, you may wish to check out a few of these papers:
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I happen to be very interested in this topic, and am in the “I was smacked and I turned out fine” category. My mom is German, my father a conservative jewish man from Brooklyn, and I understood early on that my actions had consequences. I wasn’t smacked regularly, but of course I understand that there are likely better ways of disciplining kids. I didn’t hear about the ban in France (I actually was born there and am sure I received some public smacks, lol).
You know what’s crazy? It is still legal in 19 states in the US. Including the one I’m in. Legal to do at home AND legal to do in schools. Meaning my principal is technically allowed to “paddle” children as a discipline method. It just seems so backwards.
I had heard that Divya, and find it really hard to believe that it’s still legal in some schools in the US too. Using physical force of any kind towards a child has been illegal in schools over here in Aus since the early 80’s. I’ve often wondered why it’s illegal in schools here, but not in the home. Having worked in schools (with some really challenging behaviours at times!) I’ve never understood why violence would be the go-to option for encouraging behaviour change. Surely if we can use kinder, more effective methods in schools (especially at times when you’re… Read more »