Skip to comments.Why smacking is a hit again
Posted on 02/25/2008 8:57:10 AM PST by qam1
At lunch recently, a father of four who works in publishing told me he occasionally gives his children "a clip around the ear".
The threat of minor violence, he said, was the fastest way to get his brood into the people carrier if they were all to get out of the house on time. It wasn't so much the fact that this otherwise modern thirtysomething father would slap his children that shocked me, but the fact that he spoke about it so openly. A decade ago, he might have been worried that I'd call social services - or at least recommend an anger management course.
In the 21st century, however, discipline is in. Thanks in part to the rise of television programmes about parenting, such as Supernanny and House of Tiny Tearaways, naughty steps, finishing what's on your plate and strict bedtime routines are back in vogue.
And this week the Sentencing Guidelines Council, which sets down rules for Britain's magistrates and judges, called for leniency in sentencing parents who are brought to court for smacking their children - a sea change in attitudes from just four years ago, when the right to a defence of "reasonable chastisement" was removed under the Children Act.
As a mother of two, I know how testing small children can be. The closest I came to lashing out was when one of mine almost ran into a busy road. I stopped her just in time, but I was so lost for words, so horrified at what might have happened that a smack felt almost natural - the only language either of us might have understood. Although I stopped myself before the message transmitted from brain to back of hand, because I feel slapping is a lazy form of discipline, I couldn't promise I would never lash out. So when friends confess, as many have, that they have hit their children, I find it impossible to be too judgmental.
My generation grew up in a culture in which smacking children was commonplace. Talking to friends, it is clear that they all remember, in vivid detail, when they were smacked. My primary school in the 1970s offered the slipper - in front of the school - or the cane for the very naughty.
Now those days are back - for some families, at least. Smacking is no longer taboo. Recently, on mumsnet.com, the popular parenting website, whether or not to smack your child was the hottest of topics. "I don't, because I don't like it or find it a necessary way to discipline my children," said one mother. "But others find it effective and don't have a problem with it."
Said another: "I have smacked my son twice and he is four. Both times it was for something quite serious. I have threatened a smack when I have been tired or ill, but not followed through."
Another mother said: "I smacked my seven-year-old disabled child when he was trying to gouge out his father's eyes, quite deliberately. My husband was strapping him into the car and couldn't defend himself. Violence with violence. Not great. But I did it."
Justine Roberts, co-founder of the site, says women are becoming more open about their anger towards their children: "A few people are saying [smacking] is a strategy for managing their children and it's the only effective one they've found. But most admit they've done it once or twice in anger but feel awful about it. There's a huge amount of sympathy for parents who are being pushed to the limit."
None of my friends needed any persuasion to off-load a little guilt about parental crimes. One, a 37-year-old marketing director, said: "It was three years ago when my daughter was two and I have never, ever forgotten it.
"We were with my husband's family and we'd had a taxing day on the beach. My daughter was hot and sandy and exhausted and so was I. I was trying to change her nappy and she just would not stop wriggling. Suddenly I lashed out and whacked her on the leg. She was stunned and just froze. She stared at me and all I could see was that she had been humiliated and betrayed. I felt sick and then cuddled her and said sorry. I'm ashamed to admit that I said: 'Please don't tell Daddy'."
Another, a 40-year-old novelist, told me: "One afternoon after school I held on to my 10-year-old and just shook him. I felt very stressed about work and my relationship, and he had broken an expensive toy. I felt terrible afterwards, apologised and promised to myself never to do it again. I think it's really bad parenting to hit children."
Children can't defend
While some parents may be more relaxed about corporal punishment, Elizabeth Hartley Brewer, an expert in child development and parenting, believes that such attitudes must be resisted. "Children can't defend themselves verbally or physically," she says.
"Psychologically, smacking can do them enormous harm. And it's a lazy way to look after children. Physical punishment can delay and confuse moral development and does nothing to preserve their self-respect. When I've talked to children who've been hit, every one of them can remember when it happened. When my daughter was about two, I lashed out about something and I regret it enormously. She was totally let down by me and burst into tears."
Those who have never lost their cool and hit out should not be feeling smug, however. There are, Hartley Brewer admits, worse forms of punishment for children. "Some of those horrible TV programmes have made people proud of disciplining their children, regardless of how they do it," she says. "I've met people who don't hit but think it's perfectly OK to make their child wash their mouth out with soap or even eat their lunch naked as a punishment. As for the naughty step, that can be just as damaging as a smack if it is used to humiliate a child."
Imperial Leather for supper hardly counts as "reasonable chastisement". Perhaps if modern mothers knew more about such extreme parenting styles, we'd stop beating ourselves up about the occasional outburst.
If you’ve read the responses in this thread then you’ll know that’s not what people are talking about here.
Reasonable discipline, including minor corporal punishment, should be part of a parenting style. I work around children in a very liberal environment and some of these kids or the very worst. Some of them really do need a humiliating smack on the behind. There is nothing wrong with them learning about humble pie.
As far as people remembering getting punished...good. The question is did you repeat the bad behavior the next time?
When I ride bikes with my kids, especially when they were younger, I was an absolute tyrant. In no uncertain terms, I am the absolute law. “If I say STOP, I want skid marks. I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe, including knocking you off your bike.”
When my son was about 5 or 6, we were riding on a side street and he began to drift out with a car coming, (not too close) I grabbed the scruff of his shirt and yanked him off his bike as I was riding. Guess what? He got the message.
Lady, we're not trying to set up some sort of "fair fight". We're trying to give appropriate punishment so that our kids grow up right.
I’m with ya! That’s what kids know. When out and about, it could be a life saver.
The big chick who gets hit in that gif is only eight years old. She's enormous for her age.
Heck, I still won't try my father, and I'm 30 years younger and quite a bit bigger than him. :-)
Of course, it's been a few years since he's given me an attitude adjustment via my rear end.
The shocked look in her eyes was matched by the ashamed look that came over her in the next couple of seconds.
She apologised to her mother, told me she was sorry, and nothing more was ever said about the situation.
Would I have done it? You bet I would have.
My children were raised to respect their elders, ESPECIALLY family elders, until they were given a GOOD reason to NOT respect them - I would have knocked her block off, and she knew it.
For this idiot who lashed out in anger at her child over issues in her own life, yea, she shouldn't hit her kids because she has no self control! What blows my mind is that these immature bafoons think that because they are children in adult bodies, that everyone is, and that because they could not control themselves that everyone else who has ever laid a hand on their child has done so in anger.
I have struck my child on many different occassions, never in anger, and always with the child knowing full well why he was getting it. I have never shook my child because or spanked my child for breaking a toy, or takin out work frustrations on him physically... This woman needs therapy and away, and should not be telling the rest of us that because she can't control her temper, that the rest of us are being irresponsible when we discipline our children out of love and respect.
Other than a quick flick to the back of the head delivered at the moment of certain infractions (generally mouthing off) which are far more shock than any physical pain, have I ever disciplined my child physically where it did not tear my heart out to do it. However I did it, made sure they understood why they were getting it, and made sure they understood that I took absolutely no joy in doing it, but if I allowed them to behave in the ways that got them this punishment without disciplining them for it, I would be neglectful in my responsibilities as their parent.
I always thought my parents were hypocritical liars when they would say "this is going to hurt me more than it does you" before I got what was almost always a well deserved licking. The first time I had to spank my child, for a well deserved and known infraction, I came to realise they were telling the God's honest truth.
I do not condone random and unwarranted violence against children, I do not condone physical punishment delivered in anger.. in fact, one of the greatest lessons the child is taught in times when capital punishment is going to be laid down, is the time they must spend in their room thinking about what they have done, and waiting for the fate they know is coming. This ensures that I or my wife have calmed down completely before punishment occurs and as the saying goes the waiting/anticipation of the punishment generally far effective than the simple punishment itself.
In the past a child would be sent out to get the switch that their butt would meet... this time served the same purpose, reflection of the child on what they had done wrong, and time for the parent to calm down from whatever anger the infraction may have brought.
If you have to hit your kid to make him mind, you’re a bad parent. It only means that you haven’t invested the time and love over the years to earn his respect and get him to stop when you say stop. Once you’ve reached that point, you may have no alternative but to use corporal punishment to change the situation, but it still means you screwed up in getting to that point to begin with. That’s been my experience, and, yes, I did have to spank my kids a couple times. But I think it was my fault for letting things get out of hand that I had no other choice. I should have done better.
Articles like this exist because certain idiots can’t distinguish between a swat and beating a child to death.
Did I ever get spanked? Yeah. I took my younger siblings swimming in the pond. I was about 6, they were 3 and 2. Never mind that a 6 year old shouldn’t have been watching a couple of toddlers, but that’s another story. Sister told, and I got my butt blistered. Did I ever go swimming in the pond again? Yes. Did I take them? No. Lesson learned. Somewhat—I always was a stubborn child! :)
I think the new generation is called “the Millennials” I sort of like it.
There is a world for children who have never been spanked.....
I can respect a parent who themselves were victims of true abuse being reluctant or refusing to ever strike a child. However to claim that any physical act against a child is abuse is nonsense. I would never lash out at a child in anger, and that's the biggest problem with the saps in this article... every one of them was unable to control their own tempers, and because they lashed out in anger at their children, they think everyone who ever lays a hand on their child does so in that manner.
I’d love to know the back story of that clip. That’s a good hit.
I have pinned my mouthy 17 year old with the same look and move!! LOL I didn’t have to follow thru either—the shock value of Mom losing her temper and posturing was enough. Children would be much easier to raise if we could put them on a leash and just yank them up short like a dog learning obedience! I say that tongue in cheek, of course.
"I have met my grandchildren, and they aren't fit to live with!"
Sparing the rod really DOES spoil the child.
I have one to offer as evidence!
1st. Ran into the street
2nd. Punched my sister
3rd. Talked back to my mother (I can still ‘feel’ that one)
4th. Went off with my friends and didn’t tell my folks and was gone all day.
5th. Took the Lord’s name in vain
6th. Ran around with a knife in my hand
Am I a mentally unstable, frail and disturbed person today who is greatly fearful of my father? Hell no, if fact, I thank God every single day for my father (Retired Airforce Ping BTW) who LOVED ME enough to ‘discipline’ me when I did something that was inappropriate. After getting spanked, I never did one of those things ever again and it’s made me a better person.
I see my cousin’s kids, and they’re spoiled rotten and run all over her.
I don’t agree with that completely. Even the best child who completely respects their parents will do things that are just not something that admonishment is appropriate. Children are children, even the best of them will do stupid things.. and when those stupid things put themselves or others at incredible risk needlessly a child must be disciplined in an appropriate way... and yes at that level spanking can be warranted.
Children are children, lack of respect or love is rarely the motivation for bad decisions or behavior. It certainly can be in some situations, but I know tons of children that love and are well loved and absolutely respect their parents who still do things they should not.
Kids are kids, they will, even the best of them, do things they should not.
What I have found about spanking though, that is in general, if you apply it early and consistently, you rarely have to do it as they get older. Yes there are some stronger willed kids who are sadly more likely to have thier hides tanned more that others, but generally, consistency in discpline and rules/expectations is more the key than anything else.
If you don't know the difference between "hitting" and "spanking" then it may be good that you don't do it.
Kids should not grow up learning that nomatter what they do, the punishment is the same.
Boy, am I behind the times. I thought “redirection” was all the rage.
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