she needs a good smack

Has anyone been given this advice before? I haven’t for my bubs (yet), but it’s something that I have certainly heard people say. I was chatting to a few people the other day: another parent and two people in their twenties who don’t have any kids. We were talking about the ABC mini series based on Christos Tsiolkas’ book The Slap and inevitably the conversation turned to whether or not we believed smacking a child as a form of discipline was the right thing to do.

I delicately picked my jaw up from the table when I realised I was the only one who said I wouldn’t hit my child.

I had never really thought about it before. I was smacked from time to time as a child, and I remember my sisters being smacked. I hadn’t paid much attention to things in the media about smacking – I have just discovered a quick google search brings up myriad of articles and opinions. I just knew without having to think about it, that it wasn’t something that aligned with my parenting style (which is, in fact, no particular ‘style’, just what feels right for me and my family).

I don’t know what research on the topic says, but to me, it’s just a matter of common sense. Children aren’t allowed to hit other children. Adults aren’t allowed to hit adults. Husbands aren’t allowed to hit wives and wives aren’t allowed to hit husbands. Children aren’t allowed to hit parents and we’re not supposed to hit animals and pets. Why, then, is it ok for adults to hit children?

Following the above sequence of right and wrong, it seems logical to me that in my position of responsibility as a parent and a role model, that I would not and will not hit my child.

When my point of view was expressed, I was asked a number of questions about what I would do when my child threw a tantrum in the supermarket, what would I do when she snatched a toy, what would I do when she was rude, what would I do when she disobeyed me?

I was also asked the question: Don’t you think a quick smack is better than screaming and emotionally abusing your child?

While taking a few deep breaths and quietly encouraging myself not to burst into tears (sookie!) I quickly noted to myself that I had obviously touched a nerve and had made people feel uncomfortable or inadequate by my viewpoint.

I think it’s worthwhile to note that there are millions of different ways to communicate a message to a child and just because I will not hit my child does not mean that I therefore am resorting to emotional abuse. I like to think that rather than considering everything Baby does as ‘naughty’ or ‘wrong’ or actions that need to be punished, I am more open to understanding her developmental stages and know that when she does something ‘wrong’, it is not because she is trying to be malicious or because she wants to be ‘bad’. Understanding more about each stage of development helps me to understand that a ‘tantrum’ might be because she is trying to tell me something with limited language skills, and I am missing the point. I might have been dragging her around all morning and she’s tired (so I put her to bed). She might snatch a toy from another child because in her mind she wants the toy and is not old enough to understand that there is a more polite way to go about it (so I show her, over and over again). She might climb on the furniture and put herself in a dangerous position because her body is urging her to explore (so I take her to climb on something else). She might  will and does draw all over our freshly painted white wall because it’s waiting there for her to express herself like an enormous empty canvas (so I get her more paper) … the list could go on.

I think it’s sad that parenting is such a political affair. There is so much judgement and criticism, that we sometimes forget to share positive, non-violent ideas and take care of each other. We forget that we are all trying to be the best parents we can be in a speedy, hectic, information soaked world, and none of us are going to get everything right.

Here are some thoughts I feel are relevant to this conversation:

:: Gentle Discipline – The Parenting Passageway

:: To Smack or Not to Smack – Pinky McKay on Belly Belly

:: Gentle Discipline, Stay on the Path – Natural Parenting

There are so many more I would like to add, but Baby is awake now and computer time is over!

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