Saturday, 28 December 2013

Should we be allowed to smack?

So smacking is back on the political agenda as the Children's Commissioner for England has called for a ban on all smacking of children. I'm not normally overly opinionated in my blogs and this is always going to be an emotive subject which I am sure we will all have our own views on but I thought I'd mull it over (publicly!) and share mine.

For the record I don't smack Daisy and I hope I never will as I have never seen smacking as a solution to her misbehaving or testing me. Believe me there have been times when I've reached the bottom of my 'parent toolbox' and literally not known what to do next but I've always seen smacking as the sign I've lost control of the situation and on a personal level that would be a major fail for me as a mum. My job is to be the parent, try to guide and teach Daisy (who lets face it can be pretty feral at times!) about how to behave, how to treat others and how to control her emotions. What lesson am I setting if I cannot control my own emotions and resort to violence.

Pro smackers I find always tend to use the same old excuses / explanations for their choices - 'I was hit as a child and it didn't do me any harm' Well I'm no psychologist but surely the fact you continue to use smacking as a solution is in itself an indication that those 'techniques' used as discipline in your own childhood have strongly influenced your capabilities to deal with testing behaviours in a controlled and none violent way. I was smacked as a child and although I'm obviously not emotionally scarred by this, I have no doubts it's not the route I wish to go down with D. I don't remember feeling sorry for my behaviour or thinking I'll never do that again when I was smacked I just remember feeling angry, resentful and quite frankly sorry for myself - the reason for the smacking was completely lost. 

And this is one of the reasons I cannot accept people's opinion that smacking is an effective way to discipline children, surely if they stop said behaviours after being smacked it's more out of fear of being smacked again than as a result of them thinking about and changing their behaviour. On top of this there's the glaringly obvious violence of it all, yes we can sugar coat it by referring to a 'tap on the hand' or 'little smack on a bottom' but smacking is smacking. How can we expect our children to learn about respect, kindness and gentleness if we hit them? It's completely illogical. 

It's illegal to hit another adult, illegal to hit an animal yet the law doesn't stop parents hitting their own children. The details within the laws referring to smacking children state that it is not against the law as long as no marks, cuts or grazes are left. For me this lacks any real understanding about the true impact smacking can have on a child's emotional well being and the well being of the parent / child relationship. I can only guess this loophole exists as a result of a small proportion of old school politicans refusing to support a full ban - well shame on them. 

I appreciate that for many of us smacking was a pretty normal part of our childhood, smacking was an accepted form of discipline and not seen as causing any harm, however, like with most areas of parenting we're constantly learning and studies now show that using smacking to correct bad behaviour is not only ineffective but can also be damaging to the both the child's psychological well being and the relationship between said parent and child. It is for this reason I don't resent my parents for their choices, instead I embrace that I don't need to parent in the same way, I can make my own choices based, yes, on the research that smacking doesn't work but mainly on my own instincts as a mum which simply tell me it's wrong. 

I know a legal ban on smacking won't stop all parents using violence towards their children, I know it won't stop child abuse but I hope it would at least show some parents that there are other ways to manage difficult behaviours and allow the relevant authorities to help families who struggle with managing these behaviours without the ambiguity of the existing legal loopholes.


  1. A very well-written argument against smacking and interesting to read. I think that smacking is a taboo subject among parents and it's definitely seen as a negative thing if you say you, or are seen to, smack your child. We use a smacked hand for the dangers - like playing with electrical sockets. I want him to associate playing with objects he shouldn't do with the memory of a smacked hand - and it works. We of course have plug covers and the such, but if, for any reason, we forget to cover the plug socket and he sticks a fork in there and electrocutes himself, he'd be far worse off than having a few smacks to deter him from going near them.

    My son is very loving and we concentrate on praising and rewarding positive behaviour, and negative behaviour puts him on the naughty step - even at 20 months he knows to stay seated until he stops crying. I don't think it's an inappropriate form of discipline if you're demonstrating tenderness, good manners and love in abundance to guide them. When you're smacking kids because they're having a tantrum then that goes with "now you've got something to cry about" rubbish that my dad used to say to me, and it doesn't work. Kids don't listen when they're having a melt down and smacking them adds to the hysteria.

    It's a tough topic to discuss openly and I wouldn't want anyone to think I slap my son around for everything under the sun! It wouldn't even be once a week as now he has started to pick up on my raised eyebrow and "cross face" when he has done something wrong - or about to!

    I know parents who smack their kids and I know parents who are against it. Some are just apathetic to the argument whilst some are very against smacking and I love listening to all sides. Everybody has their own "style" of parenting and I guess I'm a hypocrite for saying that there can be an "acceptable" form of smacking but be against it as a form of punishment. I guess we all bend rules to suit our needs at some point or another and I speculate I will be criticised for my opinion.

  2. Thanks for such an honest response, it's a very personal decision to make and as parents we really have to do what we feel is right for our own children. I'm wouldn't ever suggest my opinions or actions are right, they are just right for me and my family.

    The argument on smacking will never be a straightforward one as there are so many factors to take into consideration, not least the issue of ensuring parents who do or have smacked are protected and supported should a ban be introduced (this is something I hope to explore in a future blog)

    I write my blog with the hope my opinions will be respected and I hope this is also the case for those who respond to my posts, especially with such honesty about a difficult subject matter.

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