The “smack your child or not smack your child” debate hit the news again recently with the Royal Australian College of Physicians calling for a legal ban on parents being able to smack your children. This is a sensitive topic with most people having very definite views on whether it should be allowed or not.
I’d like to start by saying in our household we do smack or at least we have done in the past. There I said it. My wife and I are on our way to our late 30’s and like many people from this era and earlier, we were smacked, hit and even sometimes belted! Sounds awful doesn’t it. Belted. But that was reality for many kids “back in the day” wasn’t it.
Even though we were bought up getting a tap on the hand or behind for various indiscretions, we have now chosen not to smack our children. I’ll point out that it’s not because either of us harbour any grudges towards smacking or the parents that administered said smacking. It didn’t appear to harm either of us or anyone we know for that matter, but that isn’t the case for everyone is it.
We choose not to smack because we simply find it ineffective. While it’s actually only been used for grossly inappropriate behaviour, after years of having it in the disciplinary toolkit, we’re shelving it. Or more to the point, we are trying to. I’ll be really honest now and let you know we haven’t mastered “not smacking”. Every so often we take “the easy route” and pull it out of our parenting tool kit. It’s used more of a threat these days and we seldom have to go through with it, but it’s still there and we don’t want it to be.
It’s because of this desire to get rid of smacking for good, that we’re always on the lookout for tips and tricks and we read a particularly good article on the topic just last week. The set of tips below is from an article written by parenting expert Michael Grose from www.parentingideas.com.au.
Alternatives to smacking:
1. Time out: This is designed to either give kids a chance to think about their behaviour or just break a pattern of poor behaviour. It doesn’t work for all but it’s a better alternative than smacking. It doesn’t have to be in their bedrooms; sometimes a chair or mat near you is enough.
2. Parental time-out: Make sure your kids are safe then go to the bathroom for a time if you are about to lose your cool.
3. Behavioural consequences: Implement a consequence (remove from a their friends if hurting them, go home if misbehaving in public) that is related to the crime, reasonable and respectful to kids. Don’t over talk while putting it in place and stick to your guns because kids can say things to make your feel guilty.
4. Tactical ignoring: Recognise some misbehaviour is to get up your nose so don’t let it work.
5. Pre-empt poor behaviour: I know kids can be unpredictable but smart parents will get on the front foot and minimise the likelihood of poor behaviour. Think ahead and prepare kids and yourself when you go into public spaces. Make sure your routines are child-friendly and make sure they get good attention when they are behaving well, because some kids mess up just to be noticed.
So there you go, some great tips to help you keep your promise to not smack your child if you’ve made it, like we have or to use as a great foundation for to start “not smacking” from. I view smacking as the “easy” parenting option. Doing things simply because they are easy doesn’t sit well with me. I’d rather take the harder route if it brings about better outcomes, particularly when it comes to my children. So if the Royal Australian College of Physicians say the right way is not to smack your children, then sign me up; my kids are totally worth it.
PS: If you can read the full article from Michael Grose here.