We've been talking about discipline over on Channel Mum, so I went about the interwebs to do a little research. I came across a parenting blogger who explained that she keeps her children in line with a quick slap to the hand. I won't link to it because I don't want to be accused of starting a (wo)man hunt but to be honest I was in shock. I thought smacking was a thing for the history books, it was like someone casually saying they were picking up some dodo for their Sunday roast.
I never hear any of my friends talking about smacking their children; we've talked about everything else from puke to piles so I can only assume that if they are doing it, they're doing it in secret. My feeling about secrets is - if you feel the need not to tell anyone, you probably shouldn't be doing it.
As the title of my blog suggests, I'm a bit of a fence sitter. I'm all for finding your own way and by and large I accept that if you think something is best for your family, it probably is. You want to nip into school at break to breast feed - go for it; you want to start honing them for Olympic glory before they're potty trained - I'm cheering right alongside you but with smacking, I'm off the fence and running for the hills. Just don't do it.
- Smacking teaches children to fear you and not respect you; respect can last a lifetime but fear is (and should) be temporary.
- Smacking models a negative behaviour, it's just confusing. I'm going to teach you not to hit people and then hit you - mixed messages much?
- Smacking tells your child you have lost control. Even when done in a planned way aggression seems like a last resort, even to a toddler.
I really don't know how anyone can ask a question and come up with 'violence' as an acceptable answer. Again and again research shows that the effects of smacking are negative, that it can lower self esteem, increase anxiety and carries risk of physical harm if things go wrong but I've spoken before about how I feel about research so I decided to conduct my own. I asked real life people, adults I know and respect about their experiences of being physically chastised as a child and I'll be honest I was expecting to hear tales of woe and what I got was very different...
'I didn't care. I was already angry about the thing that had upset me, smacking didn't really make a difference.'
'I found it funny. I felt embarrassed for my mum.'
'We made it a game, we'd run away with our hands over our bums.'
Thankfully no one I spoke to was emotionally scarred by the experience but universally they found the whole thing a bit silly. Discipline, when stripped to its basics, is about garnering respect and smacking does just the opposite. It really is pointless. So seriously, are you still smacking your child?