Smacking — archaic or acceptable?

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.


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2 comments on “Smacking — archaic or acceptable?

  1. You raised a very good point about smacking. I too am against smacking as I believe it harms the well being of the child. Recently, I came across some research to support this belief.

    A study on spanking was even featured on CNN’s website uncovered that spanking can lead to long – term bad behaviour and anti – social behaviour. The study interviewed the mothers of 3000 children to compile this study.They also found out that Corporal Punishment is ineffective and was responsible for more anti – social behaviour, which would be evident in later years.

    Another study conducted by Will Meek PHD also argued that spanking children had negative effects on their well being .He found out spanking was no more effective than any other disciplinary measures which didn’t use physical force. Overall, he observed that spanking could cause emotional and behavioural problems and even increased aggression in children who would use violence to solve their problems.

    There was even more disturbing evidence to suggest that spanking could even lower a child’s IQ in a study conducted by Professor Murray Straus

  2. Thanks for your comments Rhys. The information you’ve posted certainly reinforces just how detrimental and far-reaching the effects of smacking can be on our children. Greg.

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