Smacking children

There's nothing like a good smack!

I strongly feel that in the correct situation, a smack is a good deterrent and also provides a poignant reminder of inappropriate actions.  Obviously, beating a child, repeated hitting and having a child live in fear of a slipper, belt or other implement is NOT appropriate in any circumstance.

Is it hypocrisy to teach children not to smack or lash out at others by smacking them yourself?  Generally yes, if a parent smacks their child the likelihood of the child seeing this
as acceptable behaviour has been increased.   If all problems were initially solved by physical violence the playground would be a truly unhappy place.

A holistic approach is surely the only way forward with smacking as the 'death penalty' of the household rules system- the ultimate deterrent.  If the parents set the correct example of how we treat each other and mutual expectations, the likelihood of a situation leading to smacking is already reduced.  Talking about unacceptable actions, 'don't bite' and showing the consequences and asking the child to put themselves in the particular situation is a good first step.  From there, a loud clap, withholding either treats or fun activities would be the next step and then either a 'naughty corner' or chair or exclusion to the bedroom/laundry room could follow.  Each of these strategies must of course be accompanied by a discussion to ensure the child understands what was not acceptable and how they could better have dealt with the situation.  This has got to be the preferred option.

What about when the toddler takes a metal fork and decides to see how well it will fit into an electric socket?

Here, in my mind, a smack is appropriate.  There needs to be a lasting reminder of this DANGEROUS action.  A toddler may not have the vocabulary or reasoning capabilities to discuss the rationale of electricity but they will more likely associate the electrical point as a no go area.  In a situation where there is danger and a young child, smacking is an option.  Also as an ultimate deterrent which is very rarely used, the threat or understanding that a child could be smacked for unacceptable actions is important.  A parent has to follow through with discipline the same way as providing a consistent bed time routine, answer to requests for sweet food or can I have a ..... on a day to day basis.

The older a child gets, the more sit down, discussion and providing alternatives to the action they have taken eg. suggesting walking away, reason or diffusing a situation are ways to prevent situations that would have lead to a smack.  It is obvious that smacking does not have a place in adult life, although there are some people and bosses who probably would benefit from a good smack, children see it doesn't have a place in everyday adult life.  We have to guide our children towards this understanding and correct form of social convention.

As a smacked child and a smacker, my understanding is that hitting or abusing a child is very different from a smack to show something is dangerous or unacceptable.

How about you, do you agree or am I a violent parent who needs to keep my hands to myself?



  1. Great post. I think there needs to be an understanding that children don't understand logic. YOu can't talk them away from shoving that fork into the socket. They don't "hear" what you're saying.

    Yes a smack works. We use the time out system unless they are fighting with each other - I don't mean bickering, I mean actually fighting and then they get a good whack on the bum and have to kiss each other. They hate the kiss worse than the spanking : ) shows how hard we spank.

    I am against beating children, but as a person who has been smacked and a smacker, like you, I think every situation is different and some of them need the urgency a smack contains.

    Great post! Thanks!

  2. I have parented for 30 years. We started out as spankers but phased that out in favor of time-outs and later groundings worked very well. Although I'd definitely swat a child's hand away from danger, my instinct made it feel wrong to hit my child.

    On a lighter note, Our youngest is such a homebody that as a teen-ager we started threatening that we'd make him "go somewhere"...all in fun of course.

  3. I got "smacked" as a child, but chose (along with hubby, of course) not to do it as parents. Don't get me wrong... I realize there's a difference between a quick smack on the bottom or swatting a child's hand away from a hot stove and beating or abusing a child. For the record, I don't think you're abusing yours.

    I don't feel at all damaged by the "spankings" I received as a child and I've never resented my parents for doing it. That was a different time, though. The teachers and aides at school back then were not taking kids aside and outright asking them if "someone was hitting them". They do now. And I've seen a number of good parents who were barely touching their children, get dragged through the child social services system and come out the other side branded as child abusers. Not fair, I know. But it's a reality in many cities and towns.

    This is a tough call. Can any of us guarantee that there are no scars, physical or emotional, being left on the child who's getting smacked, IF the outside world is telling them on a daily basis that it is abuse? How does a parent counter that? Not trying to use scare tactics here. Just trying to look at it from a realistic perspective.

    Even if you homeschool, your children are bound to be involved at some point in activities outside the home. What happens when an authoruty figure asks them point blank if Mommy of Daddy "hits" them? Do you advise your children to lie to others to protect your rights as parents?

    What do you tell your child when they come home from school or an extracurricular activity and say, "My teacher/instructor said you are abusing me and that it's wrong"? Or worse yet, this person has already called child protective services and/or the authorities?

    I wish I had the answers, but it's a very complex subject. Kudos to you for taking it on in this post. I believe it's a subject that really needs further serious discussion. I know you're not the only parents out there who have made the choices you have. I'm sure there are more than anyone realizes.

    Hope you didn't take offense to anything I've written. It's not in ANY way a judgement or criticism of your parenting. Just food for thought, if you will. Great post!

    ~Mrs B

  4. This is such a hot topic and so important. I personally did not smack my kids. Even that young kid with the plug ... I would have jumping toward him or her, saying no VERY firmly and quickly removing it. Kids read verbal and nonverbal messages - they understand "NO" when you mean it.

    You make such a good point that as parents we need to model and set the tone. They learn by observing even more than they do by listening - you are so right!

    This was a great post! I will be back.

  5. My behind was swatted a lot as a kid... but that's because, for the most part, I deserved it. I was incessantly mischievous, strong-willed and challenged my parents at every turn. If they hadn't resorted to smacking, I would've been an adult terror for sure... and possibly wearing an orange jumpsuit by now.

    Thank God they didn't spare the rod :)


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