4 October 2011
Is It Ever Right to Smack Children?
How we discipline our children remains a contentious issue. In previous times it was perfectly acceptable and well regarded to physically punish children for inappropriate or naughty behaviour. However today smacking a child in public is seriously controversial and if considered outside the realms of "reasonable chastisement" could entail up to a five year prison sentence.
William has recently turned two and as predictable as ever he's reached the age where he seems to be putting our authority to the test and tries to challenge us at every given opportunity. This has led my husband and I to seriously consider how we are going to work our way through the terrible twos and beyond. We opted to use the naughty cushion as our method of discipline, combined with positive reinforcement for good behaviour and have done so since William was about one. When used consistently with a calm, firm manner it seems to work but there are times it doesn't. This may be due to inappropriate or over use or it could be there are other more effective ways we do not not know about and have therefore not considered. Everyone seems to have their own way, either based on their own childhood experiences or beliefs they have mustered along the way.
But what's the right way and what happens when you strongly disagree with the methods of fellow parents? One of my closest friends and I have always had very different ideas on how we would bring up our children and accepted we would do things differently, without criticism or judgement. Of course our major difference is how we choose to discipline our children. It's simple, I don't believe in smacking, she does. To date it's not been an issue as our children are two years and seven months but as they get older our polar opposite views and the practicalities of enforcing are individual methods may become more of a challenge.
I do not want my children to witness her children being smacked as I believe it conveys a message that its acceptable to hit people if you do not think they are behaving appropriately. I also couldn't watch her smacking her children as I think it would make me angry. I'm no earth mother and do not believe in a nanny state but in my opinion when a child has behaved in a way you feel you feel warrants smacking, at the time you need to act i.e. immediately at the time of the offence, you are likely to be angry so you may hit them harder than intended. Aside from that, even the thought of a full grown adult hitting a defenceless child makes me seethe and goes against everything I believe in. I can't help but feel the parent has in some way failed to provide their child with the necessary boundaries and discipline in the first place, so resorts to hitting them in a last vain attempt to rein back some control. Very strong I know, but like I say just my opinion.
So what you think? Am I being naive as I've yet to reach the really difficult ages where only smacking works or like my current opinion, do you think children should never be smacked by way of punishment? I would love to hear your opinions and the methods you use. The next few months in the the Le-bon Olive household are going to be very challenging with William at a difficult developmental stage and our new baby imminently on the way, so I look forward to hearing what you have to say.
Wish me luck