Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Should We Be Smacking Our Children as a Means of Disciplining?

Admittedly, I have been avoiding this topic for some time.  It is a rather difficult one to address as views in this area are often widespread.  The way we punish our children may be down to how we were disciplined. This would make perfect sense for most of us, but a trend I seem to be noticing more and more, is that social norms (what is acceptable in a specific society) tend to be more of a precedent on how we go about disciplining our little ones and not what we have learnt from our own parents.  Social desirability (the tendency of respondents to respond to questions in a manner that will be viewed favourably by others) is a massive factor.  Think about this: someone asks you if you smack your child. This question may pose as a moral dilemma.  If you do in fact give your child hidings, yet society frowns upon it, what will your answer be? When I was growing up, receiving hidings was completely the norm, both at home and at school.  A shift in the wording of this kind of disciplining these days has contemporary society viewing it as something completely different.  The word commonly used in the UK to describe this form of discipline is “abuse”.   I have my personal view on this, one which is often not supported by those around me.

Before my daughter was born I had made up my mind that I would never give her a hiding; unfortunately (to some degree) I have not lived up to that promise.  One thing I can be assured of, is that I have never responded with this form of discipline out of anger. To me, the intention is a key factor. If one takes the principles of social learning theory (the idea that we model and imitate the behaviour of others) it only makes sense to avoid giving your child a hiding.  But this theory is void of any cognitive input of the person concerned.  Let me put it simply; I see someone smack their child, I then imitate this behaviour when my child misbehaves – the missing ingredient which is key in this example is that I have the ability to think for myself and process whether or not this is a necessary form of punishment.  Therefore as a parent, one needs to decide whether the method of punishment is in fact the legit way of going about things. Punishment by definition is the delivery of a consequence that decreases the likelihood of that particular behaviour reoccurring; punishment serves to reduce the frequency of the behaviour that precedes it.   

The world we are growing up in is becoming more and more tolerant of unfavourable behaviour.  Society seems to be shying away from imposing consequences.  When we see parents yelling at their sweet little darlings, we may instinctively view this as bad parenting.  Imposing boundaries such as curfews may be argued against in light of infringing on a child's rights.   Giving hidings when deemed necessary is labelled as abuse.  The fact of the matter is, by not imposing boundaries and creating consequences for our children’s behaviour we are doing them a disservice, and in my view, that is where the real abuse lies.  So many parents want to be friends with their children from a young age and please them in all instances; this will only result in a future generation where the adults of that time have little or no concept of the real world, its boundaries and expectations.



These views are entirely personal and subjective. As a parent I try to always be objective in the way that I see things.  However, not imposing boundaries as a parent, in my (strong) view, is in fact a form of neglect.

What are your views on this?




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9 comments

  1. An interesting take on the subject. Most people seem to disagree with smacking, but I'm sure most parents resort to it at some point. I know I have on occasion, but I've always regretted it. I want to believe that there's always an effective alternative. Having a no-smacking policy is not the same as not setting boundaries.

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    1. I couldn't agree more; smacking an easy way to deal with something which may require more love and input. The main idea of the post was to provoke some thought and to highlight that as parents, we have a choice on how we choose to discipline.

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  2. this is a very low quality article. i made my comment on reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/raisingkids/comments/1g89vi/should_we_be_smacking_our_children_as_a_means_of/cahqtn4

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    1. I fear that you have missed the point. I'm not too sure which comments belong to you on Reditt, but I'm leaning towards the one where my writing is slated and I'm labelled a troll. The views of others are interesting to read, hence writing the post. What you've very clearly missed in your hasty response it that I have focused more on the idea that we have the ability as parents to decide what is and isn't appropriate.

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    2. I guess all I can do is invite you to read my other posts to assess the quality of my writing. I'm not too sure that you clearly understood exactly what I was getting at and hence labelled by writing as poor quality...pity one cannot always view the comments of others without having a dig at the author; I am interested to know what qualifies as a high quality article vs. a low quality one, and I am even more interested in what qualifies you to make such a judgement. I really appreciated your comments; I thought you had a valid point - pity about your arrogance in assuming you have the authority to comment on someone else's writing style.

      You yourself admitted to smacking your child, and then you have the audacity to tell parents who use this method, sparingly of course, that they should "turn their children in"...mmm. Anyway, as I've said, you missed the point completely; it's about appropriate measures based on cognitive reasoning, not thrashing one's child.

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  3. When my daughter was about 15 months old, she darted out into the street. I smacked her once on her diapered behind, she cried, more because I smacked her than because it hurt. But I wanted to make damn sure that never, ever happened again, and it worked. I think I smacked her once or twice after that for a couple of other serious things, but after she turned 2, probably, it seemed like she had enough reason to work it that way instead. Then there was the era of "Do you want a spanking?", which always stopped any kind of bad behavior. The last time I did that was probably when she was 8 or 9. After that there were other means of getting her to behave.

    She always knew when she was in the wrong, and respected our judgment and punishments, because we were just and thoughtful. We also listened to her reasoning, and sometimes changed our minds when it was clear she was in the right. Granted, we just had the one kid, other kids might be different, but in our case it seems like honor and justice were the twin pillars of discipline.

    Today she's just finished her third year at med school, so I guess we did something right.

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    1. This is the exact same approach my wife and I use. I fear that my poat was taken completely out of context by some. I hope you get the time to have a look at some of my other posts.

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  4. Thought the post was well written and offered a very honest and open opinion on the subject. Ignore the trolls! @Anonymous you clearly missed the point of the blog.

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  5. My view on spanking - as long as you're thinking long and hard about it, you'll come up with the right decision. It's the ones that hit without thinking (even the "this is how I was raised" people) that I worry about. But spanking or no spanking, I think the key is thinking about whether it will work for you and your family and whether you've got any other means to exhaust before doing it. Or, whether you've decided to do it issues-based (so the punishment fits the crime). But like I said, if you're thinking, you're doing it right.

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