I heard on the radio recently that Wales are looking to follow Scotland and ban parents/guardians from hitting their children.
First things first, smacking, hitting, tapping, striking, spanking or however you say it in your neck of the woods, to me in this post will mean nothing more than a hit enough to shock a little but not leave marks. How an average person would assume a tap on a childs hand or a smack on their bottom to be. Enough to get their attention but not to leave them with any marks.
I know different terminology can mean different things in different areas. I’ve spoken about this topic on my Instagram Stories and a few people had suggested they call it ‘hitting’ rather than ‘smacking’ as smacking sounds worse. I want to concentrate on the action rather than the terminology.
Another thing to clear up after reading lots of your thoughts on this, is that we’re talking hitting as a technique of discipline. A few comments suggested they would grab their child’s hand/arms if they were to walk out into a road or slap away their hands from a hot surface. In my opinion that’s a natural reaction to stop a dangerous situation from happening.
I’m going to assume you had your mind made up as soon as you’d read the title of this post. When I posted a poll on my Instagram Stories I expected the results to be 50/50 or at best 60/40 one way or the other, I didn’t think there’d be much in it. The results came in and it finished 61/39 in favour of ‘NO, IT’S WRONG’.
Before putting this out there for all of my Instagram friends to have their say I did declare my thoughts and feelings too. I didn’t want to open this can of worms and sit in the fence until the results came in.
My personal preference in the way I choose to parent in regards to discipline, is to NOT hit my children. For those of you reading that know we have three children, I’m referring to only Corben on this topic. The girls were 6 and 7 when we met and being only part of their parenting set-up, hitting is something that definitely does not come under the ‘Step-Dad’ role.
So I’m on the NO HITTING side and here’s why…
It’s a fact that children learn from their surroundings. They’re always listening and watching their parents every move. We know this to be true which begs the question, if we show them we’re angry or disappointed with something they’ve done which we don’t like, by using hitting, surely they will learn to repeat this when others do something they don’t like?
I’ve seen a few responses to this such as ‘I only give them a clip when they’ve done something REALLY bad’. This leads me on to two further questions. One being, where is the line of what’s just bad and what’s really bad? The second being, are they old enough, developed enough or mature enough to understand the difference between bad and really bad?
My worry being that as adults we may very well be able to answer the question of where the line is. Malicious behaviour or dangerous behaviour may warrant a slapped hand or smacked bum. Can your child then understand this and put this into action at school, play group, with their siblings or wherever it is they are interacting with others?
I’d imagine most people explain to their children that violence is never acceptable. Then hit them when their behaviour ‘warrants’ it… I don’t get that.
I will add again, just so I don’t get moaned at in the comments, I never judge anyone else’s parenting and I’m not even saying my point of view is right, I’m simply explaining my preference and style of parenting and I’m always hugely intrigued to hear other points of view no matter how much they differ from my own.
Another thought that came up during a discussion with Donetta was, how come we see children different to adults. You’re not allowed to go around hitting another adult when their behaviour is wrong are you. If another adult decided to throw a drink over you, you’d be the one in big trouble for lamping them wouldn’t you. How come we decide whether hitting children who can’t understand the reasoning in most cases or defend themselves is right or wrong?
Disclaimer. I’ve hit Corben once. He had been an absolute nightmare all day, wouldn’t listen to anything I said to him and was genuinely being nasty and spiteful. Any parents reading this will have had those days where you simply don’t know where else to go with days like this. It was awful. I gave him a smack on the bum as a last resort and immediately felt like the worst person on the planet. Was hitting my own little boy the only option I had left in my armoury, really. Or had tiredness, stress and general parenting taken it’s toll and his behaviour that day took the brunt of it.
Another point I’d like to put across is that naughtiness is very subjective. I’ve learnt this a lot over the last 5 years. What some parents I’ve spoken to would call naughty, I would call learning. Kids don’t always know what they’re not supposed to do until they try it much of the time. They’re learning on the job, just like us parents are. They’ve not tried tipping their juice all over their dinner you’ve just spent half an hour cooking before, or touching fire which looks pretty cool doesn’t it… They’re learning as they go and much of the time won’t understand something properly until they’ve tried it. Hopefully they’ll never try touching fire and you’ll be on hand to stop that but I hope you understand my point.
Last thing on this, does hitting a child as a form of discipline even work? I very much doubt it would with Corben. It would sting a bit, he’d cry a bit, then forget. If I threaten to take away his favourite toys however, this is a tactic that works almost every time!
I’m massively intrigued to hear your thoughts on this as it’s such an interesting topic, let me know in the comments…
David – @dadvworld