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  Category: Articles » Home & Family » Parenting » Article

Smacking... Should You or Shouldn't You?

By Neil Millar

Smacking children when they've been naughty, disrespectful or defiant has been an issue for a while. Some people feel we should smack as a way of disciplining or chastisement, others disagree.

In this article we'll explore this.

As well as the: 'should we, shouldn't we smack,' there is also the debate about how to smack? Is it with a hand on the hand? Is it on the back of the legs? Should we use a slipper?

There are clearly many questions to answer so let's pitch in…

When my son was born I said I'd only ever smack him if he endangered himself or others. For six years this was effective and he encountered no more than a handful of smacks, all on the hands, with my hand. I found the change in voice tonality did the trick.

When my daughter was born I decided not to smack at all. I did however tap her hand with my index finger and say, 'No,' firmly.

Were my children so exceptionally well behaved that they hardly needed chastisement?

I believe my children are children. By nature, will make mistakes. How we handle those mistakes is all about our ability to parent effectively.

In my experience of parenting and watching other parents, when it comes to disciplining children, smacking tends to happen when we feel resourced-out – no alternatives, tired, stressed and fed up with making the same requests over and over. Single parents and those in abusive relationships may actually be resourced out on a much more regular basis, simply because of the level of stress.

However, there is hope…

In raising my kids I've discovered two things that I'd like to share with you. I think they are important insights and I've gone back to them and used them as a pillar of my parenting many times over.

Here are my two discoveries: First, the less painful I make my children's mistakes, the less likely they are to occur. Second, the more I work with my children, offer praise and encouragement, the less mistakes they make and the more respect they have for me and themselves.

How can we use these discoveries?

Accept children make mistakes… often!

I once saw a child get smacked for accidentally dropping food on the floor. There were a number of things that could have been done instead of punishing him in this way. The parent could have picked up the food and said, 'When we drop things we get a cloth and pick it up like this.' Alternatively they could have eaten at a table rather than squatting over a stool in front of the TV.

As a parent I am constantly looking to remove all possibility of accidents occurring. This way I don't get so stressed, my children make fewer mistakes for me to show them to clean up and they grow up feeling better about themselves.

I also find that spending time with them, buys me time. When my daughter was aged six I discovered that when I spend thirty minutes of undivided attention on my daughter, she will often play on her own quite happily for at least the same amount of time. This gave me time to do something I needed to do and prepare for more time with her later.

When we make excuses to our children about not doing something with them, they, by nature will call us to do better. It is important that we respond to this call more often than not. If my children needed me they would come and find me. If I didn't respond to them they would do something naughty. If I did respond we had no problems.

Is this the child's fault or an adults?

I've come to understand that children need an adult's energy to help them rebalance every once in a while (how long is age dependant). They need to know mum or dad is around. They can do this positively or negatively. If you respond to the positive response you'll lower the possibility of a need for a smack or any kind of discipline. If you don't then perhaps you might consider that you have been as naughty as they have in the future – because you didn't respond when they came to find you or asked you for time or help.

If you smack and want to stop smacking then there are many books on parenting that can help. If you are not a reader then talk to other parents and find out what they do.

My take on smacking is this: there is a lot we can do that means we rarely get to a point where we need to do it. Having been physically abused in a domestic relationship, I can say I never enjoyed being smacked or hit. It affected my confidence and self-esteem. Knowing how I felt determines that I cannot smack my children. I love them, why would I ever do something that would damage how they think or feel about themselves.
About the Author
Neil Millar spots things others don't. His weekly newsletter on creating a better life, will help you become more consciously aware - so you and your family can be all you can be. Find out more at

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