‘I was smacked as a child and it didn’t do me any harm’ – is a MYTH. Read WHY!

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There is a “definitive link” between smacking children and behavioural difficulties, a new study has found.

Researchers at University College London, who reviewed 20 years of research on the topic, found that physical punishment is not effective in improving children’s behaviour, and instead makes it worse.

I have been on Channel 5 News, BBC Radio, LBC and interviewed a great deal this week as a new survey has comprehensively found that smacking or spanking doesn’t work and is damaging to children’s self esteem, confidence, wellbeing and trust in you.

You can listen to my interviews to get a flavour of what I think about smacking children but I think my image above sums it up.

I have written a great deal about positive parenting and better ways to raise happy, confident kids with strong self esteem and good mental health and smacking has been shown time and time again to damage all of these things in a child.

The most comprehensive study from the University of Texas followed 160,000 families for 50 years and the research showed CLEAR evidence that smacking or spanking is HARMFUL to children.

The more children were smacked, the more anti social behaviour they displayed, the more aggression they showed and the more they suffered from self esteem problems, anxiety, depression and lack of trust throughout their lifetime.

If I had a £ for every time a parent or a journalist said, ‘But I was smacked and it didn’t do me any harm.’ I’d  have a wardrobe full of Jimmy Choo shoes!

But we are in a position of trust – young children in particular have no self regulation as their brains are not yet fully developed and they make mistakes, get overwhelmed by their big emotions of anger, frustration and fear and they need us to support them by going alongside them – ‘talking and teaching’ them how to manage those big emotions over time so that they can self regulate their own behaviour as they mature.

Click on the links below to find more alternatives to smacking:

The Alternative To Smacking’ Checklist.

Why Is Smacking Wrong?

Is it OK to smack your child?


Sue Atkins, parenting expert, and Katie Ivens, campaigner, debate whether it is ever necessary to smack your children.




Sue Atkins talks about smacking your children and alternative methods of discipline to Holly Willoughby and Eamonn Holmes on This Morning


Here are some ways to help your child develop ‘discipline’ and ‘self discipline’ while you’re being a positive parent.

Positive parenting isn’t a vague concept of being nice to your children, when they don’t deserve it!

It’s a parenting philosophy and a way of thinking and it’s based on the idea that our relationship with our children is the most important thing, and that we can help and support our children to develop self discipline.

Positive parenting isn’t flaky parenting, trendy parenting, or permissive parenting.

With positive parenting there is a choice on focusing on firm, fair and consistent discipline and the goal is to raise a adult who follows the rules, has strong self esteem and confidence and good mental health and wellbeing.

An adult who follows the rules and respects others, not out of fear, but because it’s the right hing to do.

  • Set firm, fair and consistent boundaries


  • Children are not attention seeking – they are connection seeking. Come off your mobile phone, stop what you are doing and connect with them – what’s really going on underneath the behaviour? Anger, fear, frustration, boredom, being ignored?


  • Be firm but kind – be patient and see their behaviour as an opportunity to t’talk and teach’ them how to behave or act or express their big, strong, overwhelming emotions.


  • Decide what rules are important to you and your partner, if you have one, and then tell your kids what they are!! They’re not mind readers !


  • Avoid shaming and blaming your child – it damages their self esteem and confidence.


  • Try thinking about consequences and choices rather than punishment – punishing your child makes you the enemy, particularly if you are in a battle of wills with your kids. Think Connection rather than Control. It doesn’t make you any less a parent if you want to teach your kids through patience rather than control.


  • Use positive reinforcement rather than constantly nagging! Catch them, doing something well or good – like putting away their toys or hanging up their coat. Were they kind to their sister and helped her with her homework?


  • Model Respect – kids copy what we do, how we speak about others and how we speak to them. If you want them to be respectful – act respectfully.


  • Look to understand not control – strive for empathy and kindness, patience and love. Kids often seem to be misbehaving to spite us – and yes, kids do push our buttons, wind us up and can be exhausting but they are not doing it to make our lives harder. So, get plenty of ‘Me’ Time away from them to keep a balance in your life. Go for a run, meet a friend for a coffee or meet for a glass of wine. It will recharge your batteries, give you more patience and help things stay in perspective.

The goal of positive parenting is build and maintain your relationship with your child, while raising a person who will do good in the world and grow up to be a happy, confident child, teenager, adult and parent! 

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