Is it OK to smack your child?

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

Smacking is back in the news again.

Bringing up happy, healthy, polite and caring children has never been easy. Everyone gets angry with their kids at some time or another – it’s normal – it’s healthy. Kids know just what buttons to push and they push them! I know mine do!

But what sort of message are you sending to your kids if you hit them I wonder?

It’s OK to get physical when you feel annoyed, frustrated or angry? And because you are a role model in everything that you do…. guess what your kids will do when they get annoyed, frustrated or angry……. lash out too.

I know lots of parents feel a little “tap” never hurt them …… but times change, we evolve and a little smack can escalate……. I think a mum who came on one of my workshops put it really well when she said, “I didn’t smack my 13 year old son, but I did smack my 10 year old daughter because she was so strong willed. One day when I smacked her, she said, “That didn’t hurt!” I knew then that I mustn’t smack her again because of what might happen.”

Of course anger is an honest emotion, but it’s what you choose to do with your anger that’s important. How about just asking yourself some simple questions:

“Is this the best way to show my love and respect for the most important people in the world?”

“Is this damaging our relationship and their self esteem if I keep on smacking them?”

“What age is it OK to smack…. a baby, a toddler and teenager and at what age will I stop?”

Why not imagine you have a video camera on your shoulder instead and begin to notice your trigger points to your anger and ask yourself:

“What presses my buttons and makes me throw a wobbly?”

A technique I use with the parents I work with is to keep a diary for a couple of days or a few weeks, to notice your triggers.   You can download my free “Anger Diary” to help you notice your triggers.

Then ask yourself a better question rather  than just  feeeling guilty.

“What could I do a bit differently to make sure the kids know what I expect? Could I be a bit more specific and clear in what I say to them?”

“How else could I discipline the kids without smacking them?”

Maybe it’s just about going to shout in the garden, pounding a pillow, or going for a run instead until you’re back in the driving seat again.

“Every now and then go away…for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.” – Leonardo da Vinci


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