There's been some recent debate about smacking as a form of discipline. I was smacked (gently) as a child and have not yet decided what to do with my one and three year olds when they're older. What are your thoughts on the debate on smacking? 

smack-300x210Smacking is often a topic in hot debate in the news and on social media. There are some very passionate views to support both sides of the debate. On one it is seen as a form of child abuse and on the other, often you hear ‘I was smacked as a child and I turned out fine’.

In my 20 plus years as a psychologist, I have yet to hear a parent say that they ‘liked to smack their child’ and that ‘smacking stopped the behaviour’. Most parents say that they smacked out of their frustration, own annoyance and then wonder if it was the right thing to do. Typically I hear the question being asked – is there a better way?

My answer is yes, certainly! Definitely smacking is a form of discipline often used because as a parent because you are annoyed, frustrated, cranky, shaking with anger and/or have little knowledge of what else you can do to stop this behaviour. Firstly you need to realize and see the role your own frustration has in smacking and then you need to educate yourself of a range of other parenting strategies that are available. Then you need to pick and choose which one to use in what situation. You may not always choose the right one or the best one, but that is part of learning and as a parent you constantly learn. Today we have the availability of information in bucket loads and lots of different organizations or psychologists that can teach us parenting strategies to ease the frustration of knowing what to do with difficult behaviour. So learn other strategies to use that are much more effective when dealing with children.

There are many: be sure to include 1,2,3 magic a time out strategy, planned ignoring, teaching, explaining what you want first to set your child up to choose more successful behaviour, praise and encouragement – be sure to be specific, positive & emotive parenting and a good dash of respect. If you use a combination of these strategies, undesirable behaviour will fade away quite quickly and you will enjoy your parenting so much more. There is no need to smack a child at all - even in dangerous situations. You can encourage and change behaviour in others ways very, very effectively.

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