Is smacking an effective, or even acceptable, means of disciplining your child? Popular opinion is shifting to the negative, and arguments for this stance continue to mount.
One international study, led by Professor Kang Lee, was reported recently in the article, ‘Spare the rod and save the child’. In comparing the performance of children at schools practising physical and non-physical discipline, it was found “the ability to control behaviours, to switch from one task to another, and to plan actions” were all stronger in children raised under positive parental control.
Professor Lee went on to explain that “these skills are essential for a child to succeed in school … and of course in the future, in many job situations.”
So by smacking your child, could you be hindering their opportunities for success in the classroom and beyond?
As a psychologist, I see smacking as outmoded, more often than not a response borne out of frustration and used as punishment rather than to educate or retrain.
To overcome the perceived need to smack children, parents must be more proactive and anticipate where a situation is heading before it deteriorates to the point they feel there is no alternative. A good strategy is to remember that there are far more positive techniques to employ; techniques that provide ongoing reminders that actions have consequences.
I have asked a number of kids whether they would prefer 30 seconds of pain or the denial of certain privileges. They all chose the former, with the primary reason being that the consequences linger long after physical pain subsides. Of course, the psychological consequences of smacking should be paramount.
So, while disciplining your child is certainly an important, and often very necessary, component of successful parenting, physical punishment should be avoided. Instead, consider confiscating phones, banning TV or restricting recreational activities.