Smacking 'does no harm if a child feels loved': do you agree?

(524 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 18-Apr-13 21:30:49


We're wondering how you feel about new research that suggests smacking does children no harm as long as they know it is for the right reasons and feel loved.

The publication of this study - which focused on teenagers, it must be said - is causing quite a stir, with, according to the Telegraph, 'parenting groups and charities [reacting] angrily to the findings, [and] maintaining that a child can suffer long term damage from physical discipline'.

In Britain, parents are not banned from smacking their children but it is illegal to inflict injuries causing more than a temporary reddening of the skin.

So, do you agree that smacking is fine, as long as it's tempered with a backdrop of love and affection? Or do you think that smacking is never the answer? Please do tell.

FarelyKnuts Thu 18-Apr-13 21:33:36

I think I would not smack an adult who was doing something I did not like/agree with so why on earth would it be ok to do it to someone smaller and totally defenceless against me?
There are other ways to discipline that do work.

YoniOno Thu 18-Apr-13 21:33:51

If you resort to violence, you've lost and the child knows it. Have never and will never hit my children. It's abuse of power, pure and simple. It's scary how desperate people are to justify what is basically an animal instinct to lash out when things don't go your way sad

EleanorFarjeon Thu 18-Apr-13 21:34:18

I don't think there's ever a right reason to hit a child.

It's grossly hypocritical and poor, lazy and often, abusive parenting.

SirBoobAlot Thu 18-Apr-13 21:34:57

There is no right reason to hurt a child.

If the only way you can deal with your child is to injure them, then you need help.

claraschu Thu 18-Apr-13 21:35:40

Being hit is humiliating. Being humiliated is never good.

Parents hit children because they are incompetent or angry.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Thu 18-Apr-13 21:37:17

Well, I don't think I'd feel very loved by my husband if he gave me the odd backhander, so I would have to say that I disagree that hitting someone has any place in a loving family relationship.

I was hit as a child and I can tell you that it did NOT make me feel loved. It made me afraid. Angry. Helpless. And I am 39 years old and I still flinch if someone makes a sudden movement.

My dad once said it made him feel sad that I flinched from him.

hmm well you and mum shouldn't raise your hand to me then, should you?

I do not think that hitting is ever the right thing to do. I don't think your child should fear you and I don't think that causing physical pain to someone is ever a loving thing to do.

claraschu Thu 18-Apr-13 21:39:52

I hate the work "smack". It trivializes violence and is very insulting.

SirBoobAlot Thu 18-Apr-13 21:40:08

And as for the fact it was aimed at teenagers... I'm 21. It's only in the last two years that I've recognised the damage some of the decisions my parents made, including smacking, have caused me.

If you'd have asked me a few years ago, I'd have told you I deserved it.

I didn't. No child deserves to be hit. No child deserves to run off and hide in a corner when they drop something because they don't want to be smacked. And my parents 'only' smacked for 'serious' things.

Because I was taught that I had deserved to be hurt by being smacked, when my first boyfriend hit me when I disagreed with him, I didn't tell anyone. And that is about the summary of the majority of my relationships, until I started to see the reasons for it.

No. It is never okay to hurt a child. Ever.

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 18-Apr-13 21:42:30

I will start by saying i've never smacked my three.

My dad did however smack me. He's a very calm and kind person. I'm very strong willed and as a child sometimes a fog would come down that would stop all rational thought. A controlled smack without anger could shock me back to a rational way of being where we could reason through my behaviour.

The smacks I received from my dad weren't the sort that left a mark. I did feel very loved. I've not become a smacker as a result but if I'd been my own challenging child maybe I'd have tried it as a tactic.

My bigest problem with physical punishments is I think very few people are able to stay truely calm on the inside when possibly tired and faced with a challenging child. Therefore moderation of force, for most, is not easily achieved. Its easier, on balance, for all not to smack than for some to not understand the difference between a quick shock and abuse.

YoniOno Thu 18-Apr-13 21:45:38

I remember one specific occasion - I was to be picked up by my dad instead of my mum after dancing lesson, so was about 7 I think. He parked round the corner and waited in the car instead of coming in to get me like mum usually did. I was probably told to expect this, but being a child I forgot. Anyway I played outside for maybe 20 mins with friends then saw his car and went running towards him, having had a ball and full of fun. He opened his car door, hit me across the hand without saying a word and told me to get in.

The shock, the shock of it, even though both he and mum had hit me before. I had no idea what I had done wrong, there was no warning and it was so unjust. I cried all the way home and ran to mum to tell her and she wasn't sympathetic.

My parents weren't abusive in general, but this still stings and damaged my relationship with my dad.

If you hit your children, you don't know if there is one hit that will break their trust, that will really hurt them emotionally and shock them. Dad certainly didn't know and never did.

So I'll never be hitting my children.

Floweryhat Thu 18-Apr-13 21:46:14

Violence = bad. Full stop.

I wouldn't hit an adult, why would I hit a child?

AnAirOfHope Thu 18-Apr-13 21:46:36

It is never ok to hit a child. Fear teaches nothing good. Its not what i want my children to see or go thru or live with.

HuwEdwards Thu 18-Apr-13 21:47:03

I don't smack my children, it wouldn't feel right and I feel I'm a competent enough mum to know how to discipline differently. And if my competence starts to wane, they are now to big to smack anyway - and that's just one point against smacking, that it's not a longterm solution

I was however, smacked as a child - not beaten, but a slap was doled out quite liberally, mainly by my dad, don't remember my mum smacking me. I adored my dad. He was my hero, I was confident he could fix anything for me, that he would stand up for me and protect me. But the thought of incurring his wrath was always a deterrent for me.

He's dead some years now, and I remember him with absolute love, not fear. So, whilst I don't condone smacking, I think it is possible to be smacked and loved.

Odd that this focused on teens, I don't remember being smacked beyond the age of about 11.

sleepythegiraffe Thu 18-Apr-13 21:53:44

No, hitting anyone is inexcusable. I do not expect to be hit, why should my children? Lazy parenting.

Shallishanti Thu 18-Apr-13 21:54:56

would help if the telegrapn had given a link- haven't the energy to track down the original research....but, I'd say
1. this was done with mexican american teenagers and they admit that violence against children (as I would term it) is more tolerated in that culture
2. a strong attachment gives some protection against the damage violence causes, which is not surprising, and more likely to be the case if the child looks around and sees that such violence is 'the norm'- if you get hit AND you know that your friends don't, feeling loved is less likely to help you not feel worthless, humiliated, angry.
3. That might explain all the people who claim 'never did me any harm'- they are from earlier generations or different cultures

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 18-Apr-13 22:02:35


would help if the telegrapn had given a link- haven't the energy to track down the original research....but, I'd say
1. this was done with mexican american teenagers and they admit that violence against children (as I would term it) is more tolerated in that culture
2. a strong attachment gives some protection against the damage violence causes, which is not surprising, and more likely to be the case if the child looks around and sees that such violence is 'the norm'- if you get hit AND you know that your friends don't, feeling loved is less likely to help you not feel worthless, humiliated, angry.
3. That might explain all the people who claim 'never did me any harm'- they are from earlier generations or different cultures

Hi Shallishanti. Think the orig research is here but I can't get the link to work right now.

Full citation: Miguelina Germán, Nancy A. Gonzales, Darya Bonds McClain, Larry Dumka, and Roger Millsap Maternal Warmth Moderates the Link between (2013) Harsh Discipline and Later Externalizing Behaviors for Mexican American Adolescents, Parenting: Science and Practice, DOI: 10.1080/15295192.2013.756353

Tee2072 Thu 18-Apr-13 22:04:06

I will never smack my son. I don't want him to smack me, so why would I be allowed to smack him?

It's bullying, pure and simple.

ReallyTired Thu 18-Apr-13 22:06:09

I think the negative affects of smacking get exaggerated. There are other forms of abuse which are far worse than smacking like verbal bullying, saracim, favourism, or complete lack of discipline to name a few.

However smacking is not OK. Children who are smacked tend to be more aggressive and they don't learn socially acceptable ways of resolving conflict from their parents.

Very few adults who were smacked are violent. I don't think that the affects of less than optimal parents are as bad as we think.

NinthWave Thu 18-Apr-13 22:08:09

My parents smacked me and each time it felt like a betrayal. How can someone who loves me be voilent towards me?

I will not and never have smacked my children.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 18-Apr-13 22:12:27

Smacking = hitting

If we smacked someone in the street (using flat of hand,leaving no mark ) we'd be done for assault.

Why it not OK to smack adults, but it is ok to Hit children.

Shakey1500 Thu 18-Apr-13 22:14:22

I was beaten black and blue as a child on a regular basis.

I tapped my DS on the hand when he was about two and felt physically sick. I was mortified at my behaviour, was instantly catapulted back to my childhood and vowed never to raise a hand to him ever again.

There simply is not one valid reason/excuse/justification or explanation that will ever make it acceptable.

I just can't get my head round it. Either the smack comes from a position of anger, which is clearly a bad idea, or it comes from a position of total calm and reason, which makes me feel slightly sick.

To my mind, a child is either too young or too old to be smacked. "It didn't do me any harm" isn't a good enough reason for any other area of parenting so I don't understand why smacking has this special status.

Nerfmother Thu 18-Apr-13 22:20:13

I don't do smacking, I think its a bit grim. I don't understand smacking for something like running into a road or touching the fire - surely that's a lesson that your child can't yet comprehend safety and risk, and that you need to be close by?
Otoh, I can't get excited about it: I think banning it would lead to awful anxieties for parents who are essentially doing a good job, and less time for professionals to focus on actual physical abuse of children. I don't think smacking leads to beating, I think some people use it like the naughty step etc.
Lots of things are probably worse - I remember a horrible comment from my aunt much more than the smack I know I received from my dad.

HuwEdwards Thu 18-Apr-13 22:21:24

You can't draw parallels with 'smacking people in the street'. Neither would you tell someone in the street to do their coat up or that they were eating too many sweets.

I don't think a smack comes from just anger or calm - it's rarely that black and white. It can also be from fear, frustration, and probably many other emotions.

I still don't think smacking is right, but I don't think it's helpful to reduce a sometime complex emotional situation to that level of simplicity.

Corygal Thu 18-Apr-13 22:24:53

I'm 45. If my mother gets within 2 foot of me, I flinch.

She would say I have always been very loved.

piprabbit Thu 18-Apr-13 22:29:13

Either you hit your child first and explain the 'right reasons' later - by which time they have already been scared, hurt and humiliated, or you explain to them before you hit them 'I'm hitting you because you did X and I love you very much' which seems frankly creepy to me and allows plenty of time for the fear to build before the punishment happens.

Doesn't really work for me either way. Hitting a child implies a parent has lost control of themselves, if you hit a child while fully in control of yourself then it makes me wonder why you didn't take the time to think of an alternative.

Meglet Thu 18-Apr-13 22:30:20

Yes, I pretty much agree with the article. Mine get smacked sometimes, usually when all hell has broken loose and I'm being constantly ignored. If there's a choice between a smack or everyone being late for school / work then a smack is the least worst option.

I tell my children I love them every day and they talk to me if they are worried about something, so (so far) smacking hasn't destroyed our relationship.

Now the children are school age I know many parents who smack. It's far from perfect parenting but real life isn't perfect and children push your buttons to the very limit.

Snog Thu 18-Apr-13 22:34:55

My parents both loved me and smacked me as was fairly common at that time. They would say it did me no harm.
I would say it was abhorrent and was emotionally damaging to me.
Over my dead body would m own child experience this. In my eyes it is physical abuse. End of.

AmberLeaf Thu 18-Apr-13 22:35:15

smacking is fine, as long as it's tempered with a backdrop of love and affection?

That sounds so messed up!

Its like you are setting your child up to think that being hit within a loving relationship is good and long as it is 'deserved' hmm

SirBoobAlot Thu 18-Apr-13 22:35:44

You think hurting your children is better than being a bit late, Meglet?


timidviper Thu 18-Apr-13 22:39:12

I'm surprised that there is nobody expressing a different point of view and do wonder if smacking has become one of those issues where no-one dares put their head above the parapet. Are there smackers out there but they just keep quiet for fear of being savaged?

My DCs are all grown up now but, when they were small, smacking was much more acceptable and I think most parents used a slap on the hand or the leg as the last resort of punishments. I'm not aware of any damage it has done to them, they seem well-balanced and are pleasant, successful young adults.

I agree it is a complex issue and also that there are far worse things, like emotional abuse, verbal cruelty, etc

Snog Thu 18-Apr-13 22:39:13

I feel physically sick just thinking about children being smacked
I would welcome further legislation to protect children
Abuse from your own parents in the name of love is pretty damn sick

Meglet Thu 18-Apr-13 22:40:31

sirboob I'm a single mum with a mortgage and a roof to keep over our heads. In this climate the very last thing I can risk is being anything less than perfect at work. The children know how they should behave, if they don't then I don't really have a choice but to be really strict. It's far from nice but screwing up at work would be far far worse.

CognitiveOverload Thu 18-Apr-13 22:42:45

Smacking is not fine. It's not acceptable amongst adults why would it be acceptable to physically abuse a child?

Snog Thu 18-Apr-13 22:43:56

Nobody is defending emotional abuse or verbal cruelty! The fact that these exist doesn't make smacking ok! What twisted logic is that? Smacking is physically and emotionally abusive - I recognise this as a victim of it. My parents are unable to acknowledge this as perpetrators.

Canihavesomemore Thu 18-Apr-13 22:45:32

My dad used to smack me and that developed into hitting me when he lost his temper. I smacked my son twice... 3rd time I did it was because I lost my temper, I then realized I had hit him sad (an irrational lash out is how I define it) and never laid a hand on him again. Nobody should ever think they have control on that outdated disciplinary method, there are other proven methods out there now accessible to us all

Snog Thu 18-Apr-13 22:46:07

Meglet are you saying you will lose your job if you don't smack your kids?

BOF Thu 18-Apr-13 22:47:36

I think the point about the cultural backdrop is very important. In this country we have been moving away from viewing physical chastisement as acceptable for quite a while now. I can't really see that a teenager here and now who was smacked when younger would interpret their experience as part of loving discipline, when so many of their peers will have grown up believing it to part of a spectrum of abuse. I'd imagine it would cause them to view their parents as uncaring and incompetent, or worse, think of themselves as less loveable than the rest of their friends who were brought up without violent punishments.

Sparklyboots Thu 18-Apr-13 22:51:11

I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer about 'long term damage'. I just think it's wrong in principle; I think the idea that I should be able to use my physical power to enforce my ideas is wrong; the idea that I'm allowed to model a behaviour that would be totally unacceptable in the child is confusing; and that teaching my children that hurting someone 'for their own good' has any place in a loving relationship is wrong.

I was smacked; and I was loved, but I didn't think I was loved while I was being smacked. Also the threat of this kind of punishment meant that I spent little time reflecting on the value of a particular standard or requirement and a lot of time worrying about how I could be seen to be meeting it. I'm not sure that this is the effect I want my parenting to have on my own children.

Sparklyboots Thu 18-Apr-13 23:00:41

Also, would be interested how you evidence the relationship between smacking in isolation and 'long term damage'. How is 'long term damage measured'? My own parents are from the 'never-did-me-any-harm' brigade, and are productive and largely well adjusted members of their communities. But they have some very strange ideas about what a loving relationship looks like and tolerating hurtful behaviour is part of them. Can't help relating that to their experience of 'love' as including deliberately hurtful behaviour by the person who 'loves' them. Also think it would be unlikely they'd qualify as 'long-term damaged' in any measurable sense.

SirBoobAlot Thu 18-Apr-13 23:05:07

I hate the ''it never did me any harm'' argument. It obviously did harm you if you now think it is acceptable to hurt a child.

And certainly then tolerating hurtful behaviour because you are tuned to believe it is acceptable classifies as long term emotional damage IMO.

Anything that diminishes self respect is a bad thing.

DialMforMummy Thu 18-Apr-13 23:16:44

I am against violence. How can you tell an impulsive child not to hit if you hit him/her yourself? Not a great model, is it?
The only times I ever was tempted to hit my DC is when I was very stressed and lost my rag. What would he have learnt from me hitting him? Nothing that could not have been learnt with other ways of managing his behaviour.

coppertop Thu 18-Apr-13 23:17:15

"I hit you but it's okay because I love you."

I can't think of any other situation in life where this sentiment would be okay.

If an adult can't solve a problem without resorting to hitting, what hope is there for a growing child? confused

Madratlady Thu 18-Apr-13 23:25:45

Whilst I wouldn't smack my children, because I think it sets a bad example and is nearly always completely unnecessary, I was occasionally smacked as a child - not hard and usually when doing something dangerous or very naughty. It hasn't done any damage, I don't feel betrayed or abused and I do feel loved and have a close relationship with my parents.

There is a difference between using a smack as routine punishment and in exceptional circumstances. I disagree with claiming that all parents who smack are abusive as well; beating a child is abuse, a sharp tap isn't right but probably doesn't come under the heading of abuse.

My parents generation (I'm in my early 20s now) were more accepting of smacking and my grandparents generation even more so. If everyone who was occasionally smacked was 'damaged' then the majority of people of some ages would be 'damaged'.

AmberLeaf Thu 18-Apr-13 23:44:20

Lots of people are damaged though!

As far as being capable of recognising what makes a healthy adult relationship anyway, your parents and how they are with you is your first model of a relationship. I think that this sort of attitude must have an effect on the self worth of a person, even right into adulthood.

SwedishEdith Thu 18-Apr-13 23:53:15

I think it's irrelevant whether or not it does harm - define "harm"? It's an act of violence = wrong.

siiiiiiiiigh Fri 19-Apr-13 00:02:36

Be careful of demonising sleep deprived, harassed, frustrated parents as monsters.

I've smacked all 3 of my kids - of course it's not right, of course there were better options available, but, with three small kids being defiant and darting into a was the least worst sceanrio.

Yep, if I'd been more rational I'd not have rapped their chubby wee knuckles. But, I was knackered, frightened, and at the end of my tether.

Not proud of it. But, they didn't get knocked down, and needed to learn not to run into a road.

I truly think that's different from abusing your kids, and, whilst I'm sorry that so many of you have had awful experiences, I'm not apologetic for what I did. At that moment, it was all I could muster up.

EmpressMaud Fri 19-Apr-13 00:07:37

No, I don't believe it is ever right to hit a child.

conorsrockers Fri 19-Apr-13 00:25:52


Interesting article, but unlikely to be intelligently debated/discussed here.

Respect to Meglet for bothering to be honest.

Goldmandra Fri 19-Apr-13 00:36:15

smacking does children no harm as long as they know it is for the right reasons and feel loved.

Denying a child food as a punishment does them no harm as long as they receive adequate nutrition the rest of the time but it doesn't constitute an effective or acceptable sanction.

There are plenty of things we could do to our children which can be shown to cause no lasting damage but it doesn't mean that to do them is a good idea.

I have smacked my children on a very few occasions, e.g. the day my DD tried to put a family heirloom (given by my aunt whom I miss very much 12 years after her death) through a wall. I lost control and I bitterly regret doing it.

It is good to know that research indicates that I have caused no lasting damage because she feels very, very loved and knew that she had done wrong. However I will continue to be appalled at my own lack of control and will never see smacking as desirable or effective.

minibird69 Fri 19-Apr-13 00:51:28

Siiiiiiiiigh i agree with you. I think there is a difference between abuse and a parental smack, they are on a different part of the emotional and physical spectrum, though those who have been genuinely abused may not be able to discern. Actually where the line is is hard to define because it is subjective which is why so many have zero tolerance. I also agree with BOF.

twofalls Fri 19-Apr-13 01:53:26

I just don't see how it can be justified. All you are doing is teaching them that it is ok to hit or be hit.

Full text of original research here:

ChompieMum Fri 19-Apr-13 07:10:35

How about this proposition then

Domestic violence does no harm as long as it leaves no mark, is done for the right reasons and is offset by the love of your partner.

How on earth is hitting a child any better than hitting an adult? They are smaller, more vulnerable and less able to defend themselves. For those who are unable to control their children without smacking, parenting classes are needed. I have never hurt/frightened my children and they are extremely well behaved (not perfect of course though!!!!).

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 07:23:08

I agree with Chompie, you can't smack a partner saying, 'it is OK because I love you'! You only get away with it because they are smaller- no one does it once the DC is big enough to hit back and hurt!
It is lazy parenting.
Those who say 'it did me no harm' are quite wrong- it obviously did harm to leave them thinking 'it does no harm'
Either hitting is right or wrong- you can't have exceptions just because they are your children. ( you can't smack other people's children).
If a teacher can manage 30 children, some quite challenging, without smacking, a parent should be able to cope - if not there are parenting classes.

Forgetfulmog Fri 19-Apr-13 07:34:22

How can your child feel loved if you smack them? How then are you supposed to teach them that hitting people is wrong, especially in anger, if you hit your child? If you wouldn't hit an adult, what makes it acceptable to hit a child?

lljkk Fri 19-Apr-13 07:35:24

I don't think you'll find hardly anyone to agree with the research.
Smacking is unacceptable on MN and this attitude does not reflect real life (yet again).
I don't have an opinion about smacking, except that it looks an awful lot like ordinary traditional human parenting (worldwide custom), and I can't believe that everyone who was ever smacked as a child felt abused & unloved.

So I sometimes think MNers are strange, maybe very hysterical, to completely ignore all that.

Forgetfulmog Fri 19-Apr-13 07:40:40

Really tired - "very few adults who were smacked are violent" - how do you know this? Are you referring to the modern age of adults (& by that I mean 20-39ish yr olds) or our parents.

My mum smacked me; her mum smacked her. I, however, do not intend (& hope I never do) smack my children as I remember the fear I felt when my mum smacked me.

BelleDameSansMerci Fri 19-Apr-13 07:45:39

Absolutely not acceptable. I don't understand why anyone thinks it's ok to hit someone. Especially a child. Why would you do that?

BelleDameSansMerci Fri 19-Apr-13 07:49:03

lljk - you think it strange that some of us don't hit our children? I think it's strange that you think violence is acceptable. The reference to "human parenting" is ridiculous. You may as well refer to domestic violence as "human relationships" given its prevalence. Just because something is distressingly common doesn't make it acceptable nor does it follow that those of us who do not behave that way are strange.

GizzaCwtch Fri 19-Apr-13 07:51:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 19-Apr-13 07:51:37

Having grown up with this method used as a punishment, its something I would never do. I still flinch when i see people smack children so it obviously does affect adults in later life.

Its against the law to smack another adult yet we allow people to do it to children who have no form of self defence or any means of removing themselves from the situation. Physical punishment is very wrong and there are many other ways of dealing with children without resorting to violence.

GizzaCwtch Fri 19-Apr-13 07:54:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Badvoc Fri 19-Apr-13 07:57:30

Lets call,it what is it, shall we?
It's not smacking.
It's hitting.

TheFallenNinja Fri 19-Apr-13 08:28:54

The whole study is taken from a very specific ethnic/social/economic group and, reading between the lines, is a thinly disguised means of explaining away the behaviour of this group, rather than attempting to understand how smacking has continued to be used as a method of discipline within said group.

It looks like a defensive counter justification.

I am pro boundary/consequence discipline and anti smacking.

Give a child an opportunity to change the behaviour, then follow through with the consequence.

siiiiiiiiigh Fri 19-Apr-13 08:34:43

If a teacher can manage 30 children, some quite challenging, without smacking, a parent should be able to cope

I didn't cope.

When my kids were small, I didn't cope, was hanging on by the skin of my teeth most of the time.

I'm not sure that it's helpful to compare teaching - a job performed by a skilled professional to parenting - something most of us are making up as we go along, and are doing our best, hoping it all works out.

I have smacked my kids in extremis.

If you have never been pushed to shouting, or smacking, or any behaviour which would be defined as domestic abuse in an adult relationship, by your kids then I am in awe.

But, don't feel superior to me. I am doing my very level best - it might not BE the best, but I do think it's ok to make mistakes and for your kids to see that adults can screw up, be remorseful and apologise.

Quite a valuable life lesson there which is denied to the offspring of Perfect Parents.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 08:44:10

You can go to parenting classes- I did and they are very useful.
I think it a mad world if other people would get prosecuted if they smacked your child and yet you can do it because 'it is part of a loving relationship'. hmm
Logically you either smack children or you don't- you can't have a system where you only smack if they know that you love them really!

I have occasionally smacked mine, but usually as an absolute last resort and it's certainly not a regular or preferred item in my parenting toolbox. It is a loss of control, not something I'm particularly proud of and not a method I'd recommend.

I do think MN can be a bit hysterical about smacking though, with shouts of abuse etc. No, you wouldn't hit normally hit an adult, but adults don't usually wind you up to quite the same extent that children do. Adults have learned to behave and socially interact in an acceptable way that doesn't cause the same levels of stress and frustration that parenting can. So no, smacking isn't ideal, but it's understandable (no doubt many will disagree with me).

I was regularly smacked as a child, I have no negative memories of it, I can't remember any of the actual smackings. I have more vivid memories of being left to howl in the dining room whenever I threw one of my frequent tantrums.

So, to conclude my waffling: I don't think this article is helpful, I don't think smacking should be something parents rationally plan out and act upon while telling themselves it's okay and their children are still safe and loved. While I accept that it happens and completely understand why, it should always be something you feel remorseful about afterwards. And should apologise for.

Perhaps if it never had been used a regular method of discipline in the past, it wouldn't occur to parents to ever do so now.

Pan Fri 19-Apr-13 09:18:01

Why on earth should one positive aspect of life (being loved) be "off set" by a very negative aspect (being hit), when this negative aspect is utterly avoidable and damaging? The authors appear to be confusing issues in the way they conducted their research,imo.

Startail Fri 19-Apr-13 09:19:13

I agree totally that smacking within a love and secure background does no harm at all. Its how most of my generation were brought up and, on the quiet, I think it's how many of us bring up our own DCs. Modern parents don't admit to smacking their DCs I suspect many occasionally do. Certainly among my DFs the ones who wouldn't get all lentil weaving on the subject had better behaved and happier young DCs than the DF who did.

A quick slap and get on with life, it's not a perfect solution, but it works.

Long drawn out withdrawal of privileges or periods sat in the naughty step are just as harmful to a relationship, perhaps even more so. No TV for the day is a constant reminder that Mummy doesn't like me I'm naughty.

Most young DCs misbehaviour is limit testing, they need to be told to stop, but they don't need to sit on the naughty step thinking about it. They just need to understand that when mum says stop jumping on the furniture or don't run off or put your shoes in now she means it. Neither of you needs a deep discussion of why. DCs aren't stupid they know why.

As for hitting being humiliating, so is being yelled at or picked up and shoved on the naughty step or sent to your room. Even a parent counting to three is humiliating. Being caught doing something you shouldn't is humiliating full stop.

siiiiiiiiigh Fri 19-Apr-13 09:21:13

Exotic I'm pleased that you found the parenting classes useful - but, I think you are missing my point.

My parenting is based on love - but, sometimes, I am too tired or harassed or distracted or, pure angry, to do what The Book Says. With 3 kids in 4 years, I was quite often tired, harassed, distracted and angry all at the same time.

I resorted to doing my best. It is not always The Best.

It's very easy to judge, and not so easy to own up and say "sometimes, parenting is hard and I make mistakes"

Eskino Fri 19-Apr-13 09:21:57

4 children and 23 years of parenting and I have never hit my children. I haven't got it in me to use violence, least of all towards the ones i value, love and cherish most of all. Those that do, do so to assuage their own anger and need to cause pain, nothing to do with discipline.

EauRouge Fri 19-Apr-13 09:31:17

No, it's bollocks. My dad loves me but I will never forgive him for hitting me as a child. Maybe some children are not harmed but children are not all the same. Not worth the risk IMO, there are plenty of ways to parent that do not involve violence and fear.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 19-Apr-13 09:33:20

On the flip side, whilst I don't advocate smacking, I think that there are worse styles of parenting.

The parenting relationship is one of dictatorship not democracy. Some children seam to run their parents lives and need reigning in.

When I was little if an adult told me off I'd be petrified they'd tell my parents and I'd get another telling off. Now strangers are chastised for encouraging children to behave in an appropriate manor.

My sister and I were once caught leaning over someones low front wall with our heads in a plant routing around for snails. The owner came out and shouted at us - nothing desperately aggressive probably something along the lines of 'oi, what are you doing to my bush'. We were so embarrassed/ scared by being shouted at by a neighbour we both went home heads hung low. When we got home we were very sheepish so my dad sat us down to find out what had happened. My mum was so angry she had to leave the room (or so we thought, but as it turns out, now we're parents ourselves we know she used to leave the room when she couldn't control laughter).

In my opinion to grow up with a complete lack of respect for society is far worse than to grow up having had the occasional light smack.

I'm not sure that the smacking debate is the one that energies should be focused on.

80QuidYoniJob Fri 19-Apr-13 09:40:36

I used to get smacked on a nearly daily basis when I was younger. My mum denies she ever smacked me. My younger brother has never been smacked.

It upsets me so much that me and my older brother were targeted and that she can't even admit that it happened.

I would never ever smack my children.

lisianthus Fri 19-Apr-13 09:45:20

"I just can't get my head round it. Either the smack comes from a position of anger, which is clearly a bad idea, or it comes from a position of total calm and reason, which makes me feel slightly sick."

^^ This.

Smacking is not OK. It can easily wind up as being the default parenting method, the thing you do every time as it's easy. People who say smacking is OK might not think this if smacking is what happens for every single trivial misdemeanor. Also, you tend to get people saying that it is their "last resort". Well, what do you do if the smack doesn't work? Hit them harder? Hit them with a stick? The concept of smacking just doesn't work from even a logical standpoint.

my ds had the odd smack between i'd say 18months and 3 years. ranging from a tap on the hand to emphasise the word 'no' after said hand has been stuck in an inappropriate place for the tenth time to the detriment of their safety or someone else's belongings, to a warning, warning, warning, smack on the thigh at the higher end of that bracket.

i don't think i've ever smacked as a result of 'losing it' - when people talk about losing it they're talking about something else that i don't mean when i say 'smack'.

i would never 'lash out in anger' at anyone least of all a small child.

when this gets discussed on here it tends to get polarised and language becomes as emotive as possible to hype things up. i don't see a similarity between me tapping a toddler with limited cognitive skills on the back of the hand whilst saying no firmly as a means of teaching something and someone angrily punching their partner in the face to feel powerful or relieve their own fucked up rage.

beyond 3 i don't think i've ever smacked ds. it wasn't necessary or appropriate by that age. it was a tool in the box for the high mobility and capacity for damage to themselves and others and low sense and cognitive abilities stage which is quite a short window of childhood thank god! it was sometimes very effective in the same way as clicker training is in the sense that it reinforced a behaviour - a two finger tap to the back of the hand whilst saying 'no' to a destructive behaviour - it's hardly violence imo.

but i suspect when i say 'i have smacked' on here people envisage me raging across the room with a red face roaring and lashing out like a crazed madwoman who should be put in a cell.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 19-Apr-13 09:52:58

Well put swallowedAfly.

i also think it's important to observe the fact that these discussion are never representative as people who don't smack are very keen to talk about that and get very emotive about it whilst most sane people who have smacked/do smack are scared off from commenting because the tide is so loudly and righteously against them.

no one can stand against the wrong, wrong, wrong, violent, evil ra ra ra posts effectively because they're so much more persuasive on a moral righteousness level.

it's also harder to explain the oppressive weight you see upon children as their mother goes on and on and on with her parenting manual talk at some poor small child whose spirit is dying under the weight of the endless, too many words, emotional pressure of it. it's hard to put that picture in words so effectively as it is to demonise a tap on the hand.

i would rather have had a quick smack when i got totally out of my head as a toddler than sit and listen to that lecture personally. ineffective streams of emotionally loaded words coming at you to try and make you feel bad (you guess) or to need you to fain more sorryness (what is it i need to say to get out from under this weight) when you've already forgotten what the hell it was about and just want to get on with the day.

again that's another extreme but one i've seen a lot of and felt such pity for the poor child straining under it.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 09:59:27

Yes, I don't mind at all when my DH smacks me if I haven't got the cooking quite perfect, or if I have backchatted him, as I know there is a backdrop of love and affection.


Seriously, perhaps smacking does less harm if done by a loving parent but violence is never positive or acceptable. I simply don't understand how you can accept it is possible to be violent in a "loving way" unless you go back to finding husbands beating wives a reasonable way to go.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:00:20

Oh swallowedafly Well put! I much prefer a quick smack from DH than a big sulk from him or a lecture.

i should clarify though that i also actually potty trained my child rather than let him walk around in nappies for three years and was in no way up for 'baby led weaning' so i am a demon mother by MN standards.

i'm guessing you're not 2yo though the cognitive skills (back with the tabloidesque emotive and totally inappropriate analogies) are familiar grin

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:01:14

and I hate it when he tries to talk to me with emotionally loaded words. Bring on the smacking!

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:02:12

sorry, I didn't realise your 2yo was stupid. Mine weren't. Of course if they had been, then smacking would have done them no end of good.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:04:03

Seriously, think through what you have said. You have advocated smacking for those with low cognitive skills. How do you distinguish between toddlers and adults with cognitive disabilities? I presume you don't believe in smacking adults with learning disabilities? If not, then why toddlers?

GirlOutNumbered Fri 19-Apr-13 10:05:56

I wouldn't smack my own children, just because I think the research has shown that modelling good behaviour is far more affective, so I can't smack my child and then expect him to to hit others.

Howeve, my mum did smack me and I don't believe I have suffered any effects and I love my mum dearly, she is awesome.

yes of course i'm saying we should whack people with learning disabilities hmm that's exactly what i said.

just to be very clear about the nonsense of the domestic violence analogy - adult sexual and domestic partner do not have the job of disciplining, socialising and teaching each other the very basic skills and realities of life - one hopes their parents will have done that for them. there is no comparison.

i must flee the rita skita-ism - it is my 'thing i like least' about mumsnet as it throws out logic, common sense and rational interaction in favour of spin and bollox. much like politicians favour.

kelb6180 Fri 19-Apr-13 10:09:29

I don't agree with smacking a child, there are far more better ways to teach a child right from wrong.

If your child smacks another child, you'd tell them off as its wrong, where it seems acceptable for the child to get a smack from an adult! Mixed signals IMO

Smacking I'd ok if you show your child they are loved... So in 20 years time it's ok for them to get hit in an abusive relationship as long as they feel loved.. That's the signal this lets off!

I once saw a mother smack there child because their child hit another child WTF!! Unacceptable!!

The study doesn't say that smacking "does no harm" if a child feels loved. It says that smacking does not result in a greater incidence of antisocial behaviour if a child feels loved.

I suppose out there there may be one parent whose rationale for not smacking is "No, I won't smack my child, because I am concerned that if I do he/she will go on an antisocial behaviour spree" but I can't imagine that it's a particularly common scenario.

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 10:13:26

swallowedafly Because a small child has "limited cognitive ability" Is not a reason to smack them; MY DM was unusual in the 50s she and DD did not hit us or go on and on at us; we had boundaries though. BTW we have not grown up as weirdo lentil weavers. My 3 DCs were not smacked (you just remove a child from the electric plug or whatever by giving them something else to do and saying NO, it doesn't need reinforcing with a smack).

As for smacking a child who's run into the road shock it's more because the adult knows THEY were wrong by not having the L.O in reins or leaving a door open.

dawntigga Fri 19-Apr-13 10:13:42

I have hit The Cub and felt really awful about it afterwards, it was about my anger not his behaviour. Violence in never the solution to anything. ANYTHING. And, ime, smacking children is 99.9% about the adults anger not what the child has done. There are equally effective ways of providing consequences that don't involve hitting.

Hitting from my parents only ever made me fear them, of course my parents were as much use as a porridge condom when it came to being parents. I don't want my child to be afraid of me, I want my child to know that actions have consequences, outcomes for actions depends on the quality of the choice, poor choices = bad outcomes. It's a much better life lesson than if you are bad you get hit.


anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:19:00

"yes of course i'm saying we should whack people with learning disabilities that's exactly what i said."

but the only reason you have given for smacking your 2 yo was a reference to his/her limited cognition. If you are ruling that out as your justification, then what are you left with? (A serious question - why on earth would you think that hitting a small child is acceptable and any different from a man beating his wife - you can do it only because they are smaller than you and because you want to "teach them" something).

People always bring up the "he was about to run into the road" argument (very rare), but we wouldn't dream of teaching an adult with learning disabilities not to run in the road by hitting them....

MintyyAeroEgg Fri 19-Apr-13 10:20:41

I really dislike your username anorexiamum.

echt Fri 19-Apr-13 10:22:35

Hitting a child is OK in the backdrop of love in precisely the same terms that the sexual abuser of a child couches their "love" in terms of affection in order to cloud the issue in their own mind, and crucially, in the mind of the abused child.

Hence the claim of the smacked : it never did me any harm. Er..yes. it did.

The question is, how is it ever OK to hit someone because they can't hit back and are smaller than you? Because that's at the root of this. If women could fight back on equal terms with men, would they be quite so beat up? No. If your kid could slap you back would you do it? No.

vile isn't it

echt Fri 19-Apr-13 10:26:02

The arguments about limited cognition as a reason to strike a child sanction the hitting of the demented and SN people.

Not so clever now, swallowedafly

lisianthus Fri 19-Apr-13 10:27:20

See, that's another issue I have with it. When any corporal punishment is regarded as acceptable, you get some people who think that smacking consists of a tap with two fingers on the back of the hand, through those who give a hard slap on the arm, those who pull a child's pants down and smack his/her bare bottom and finally those who whale the tar out of their kids with a belt. When smacking is OK it allows the worse end of it to camouflage themselves as "just doing the same as everyone else".

Even back in the day when the majority of parents smacked their kids, I'll bet that there were those who thought smacking was OK but still would have been shocked at how often some kids were smacked and for what trivial causes, even if the smacking wasn't a harder smack than they did (but rarely) themselves. And those who smacked all the time or smacked harder than other parents were able to tell themselves that what they did was OK as "everyone smacks, don't they?".

It is safer for all children if all hitting is wrong- no-one gets to kid themselves that what they are doing is OK really, and no-one assumes that the guy whaling the tar our of his son behind closed doors just taps the child lightly with two fingers because that is, to them, what smacking means.

blue22 Fri 19-Apr-13 10:28:16

I don't smack - I'd feel hypocritical telling my DDs that hitting is wrong if I did it myself.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:30:21

mintyaeroegg and swallowedafly those are very personal and hurtful comments. Why do you say that? And irrelevant to this thread. Resorting to ad hominem insults is the last resort of those with no substantive arguments.

This thread upsets me just reading it because I remember being smacked (bottom, hands and legs) up to the age of thirteen. I also identify with Shakey, when DS1 was two, I slapped him on the leg and I was so upset I couldn't sleep that night so I woke him and I cuddled him and let him know I love him. I lost control in that moment. I am not and will not be like my parents. If anything that frustrating has happened since then, I walk away, let DS1 calm down and have a chat with him. At most I let him know the consequence of bad behaviour is missing out on a treat/outing unless he calms down/apologises. The sad thing is DH had the same for a lot longer in his childhood. He left home at 17. I think it was the norm in the 70's and 80's. I didn't get on with my father until I was in my mid-20's, it took a long time to forgive.

MrsBungle Fri 19-Apr-13 10:35:01

I just have no desire whatsoever to hit my children or cause them physical pain for any reason. It's just not there in me. I don't understand it.

I was hit as a child. I had a great relationship with my mum and I felt loved and I loved her. I was scared of her at times, though. I remember the panicked feeling that I was about to get whacked! My mum has admitted since that she really regrets hitting us (she never left a mark or anything) and freely admits she did it because she lost control. I remember after being hit she would always come and say sorry within half an hour!

Smacking and hitting and physical violence (because that is what it is no matter how you dress it up) is not part of my 'parenting tool box' (wtf is that?!).

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:35:06

I have reported those most recent comments. This is a forum for reasoned debate, not for personal abuse that does nothing to contribute to the arguments (however keenly felt).

DamselWithADulcimer Fri 19-Apr-13 10:35:11

Agree with Huw.

anorexiamum is the mother of someone with anorexia. Why is it "vile" of her to acknowledge that fact?

BOF Fri 19-Apr-13 10:36:09

I understand your username, anorexiamum, only from looking up your posts (which I apologise for, but I was worried we might have a pro-Ana activist on MN who might trigger ED sufferers). I absolutely applaud you wanting to raise this important issue and safeguard our children. Is there a way you might consider rewording how to give it prominence in your name without it appearing at first glance to be something you are and are proud of? Do you see what I mean?

I hope I haven't offended you by bringing this up.

TeddyBare Fri 19-Apr-13 10:45:24

I grew up in Sweden which is a generation or two ahead of the UK on this issue. People of my generation were not really smacked. It wasn't illegal then but it just didn't happen. I would never hit my dc and I cannot understand any justification for it. There are times when they have annoyed me a lot but I'd never hit them for that. There are better ways to deal with issues.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:48:01

BOF thank you. No, of course you have not offended me through your sensitively worded post. I am going to namechange smile

I have to say that swallowedafly has had me in tears sad Anorexia is not something you would wish on any family, for any reason and using it as a stick to beat someone with seems very below the belt and unnecessary. I hope she didn't do it intentionally.

I will pm you with a fuller explanation (if I can figure out how to pm).

WowOoo Fri 19-Apr-13 10:48:07

I don't think smacking is the answer. I don't want my children to learn that lashing out is the right thing. I want to teach them that we need a bit of self control in order to get along.

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 10:51:52

IMO and E there is a strong relationship between being smacked or hit regularly as a L.O. and domestic violence.

If you grew up with violence as a norm why wouldn't you (especially if you don't think about it) bring it to your closest relationship as an adult?

i took it as a proana thing too sorry.

i had you in tears??? from saying vile? blimey. i'm sorry i misunderstood your name.

'she' is still here btw.

Forgetfulmog Fri 19-Apr-13 10:58:32

Can we all get back to the thread in question please without getting all personal.

Sorry MNHQ - not trying to step on anyone's toes grin

rowtunda Fri 19-Apr-13 11:00:48

I was smacked as a child by my mum who was a great mum. At the time I knew I was being smacked because I was being naughty, looking back it was probably the times when mum was at the end of her tether.

I don't know - my mum was a single mum and bloody good. She brought us up very well, knowing right or right. We were very well behaved children but I don't think that was because I got the occasion smack I think it was because she was a very firm mum who would not take any shit. It really didn't effect me as a child and I imagine there are literally millions of people like me who were smacked and still felt loved and had respect for their parents.

I'm 32 and what is more shocking to me was the memory of being in reception class at primary school and a boy being bent over the teachers knee and being smacked,that was so upsetting at the time to see at such as young age. It must have been just before physical punishment was banned in schools - in reception class, it was awful.

My mum was a teacher when you could still smack children in school (not that she ever did) but when I used to go to parents evening she would say in front of me to teachers, that she liked and trusted, that if I ever came home saying I had been hit by a teacher she would give me a smack as well because I shouldn't have been misbehaving.

I'm sure some people up thread would think that is awful and a terrible threat of violence but to me it wasn't and even now it isn't - it was mums way of telling me there was a right and wrong way of behaving. I suppose it was a different time then - but it really didn't do me any harm, and I was very well behaved!

I would be very upset if I smacked my children though - which I can't really explain. I think to me it would mean that I have 'lost it' and I am a different parent to my mother (I sometime wonder if I'm too soft and I'm going to end up with a monster because of it though!)

i stand by not liking it - in the same i wouldn't like 'downsmum' or 'aspergersmum' - it turns the child into a condition first rather than a person in my mind.

anyway enough on that and hope i haven't caused anymore tears.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 11:03:57

Apology accepted, swallowedafly. Yes, tears - having had a child who is so ill that at times it seemed she might well die is not something it is unaffecting to be abused for. I can see perhaps it's not a good name though and will change it - I would HATE anyone to think me pro-ana when it is so disgusting and destructive. I am off to namechange!

PS I still disagree about the smacking! Please think through why you find it acceptable - and then apply those arguments to adults.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 11:04:17

sorry, I meant "affecting" not "unaffecting"

Somersetlady Fri 19-Apr-13 11:12:02

i've read the whole post and cant for the life of me see how some people manage to balance their arguments.

life is complicated, children are a blessing but like all animals need to be shown the way in life and thats essentially all we are. do you see a grown lioness carry her peers by the neck or nip them? no?

as for the you can only do it to a child if its ok for an adult argument i regularly enjoy sleeping with my husband but it would be abhorrent to do that to a child.

and theres the screw. just because something is acceptable to do to or with an adult the same doesn't follow with a child. i would be equally repulsed if my DH wanted to wear nappies be placed on the naughty step, take his feed from a bottle and get me to push him around in a buggy......

I'm not for one minute suggesting that we all beat our children black and blue but that sometimes life is more complicated than forcing your own ideals on other animals.

oh and by the way i've been in public places many a time and seen other peoples little darlings and thought in my head for goodness sake just give them a slap.

growing up not able to have social skills, know your boundaries or follow the 'rules' be it of society or family, leads to a whole set of problems in later life of its own..............

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 11:20:44

Somerset My arguments didn't make you think then? I come from a line of non smackers and you'd think we'd all be uncontrolled and unsocialised but we are the opposite so there.

Lions are not a good comparison we don't have to go out and HUNT to eat do we? Of course a lion cub would be treated differently to a human baby.

Sparklyboots Fri 19-Apr-13 11:23:39

I think it's hard to have a clear debate here, because there is a tendency on both sides to make extreme examples of the other side and minimise their own practice.

For the record as a non-smacker, I do not use long lectures, emotional manipulation, or long drawn out punitive consequences, naughty whatevers etc. I say no, give a minimal functional explanation, and then repeat no, while physically preventing the child from continuing. Because my child is 2, and therefore has limited cognition skills, it takes repetition and my own intervention to prevent some things, like climbing up on the table next to an open window etc. If I am tired and harrassed it can wind me up to have to do so. But that's my tough shit, really, he's 2 and expecting him to fully understand and have impulse control is actually deeply unreasonable. At the same time failing to fully understand HIM and failing to exercise my OWN impulse control wouldn't strike me as the most rational basis for expecting better behaviour in the future.

I think harm discussions in case are a red herring; for me it's a question of principle. I am teaching the principle that hitting is wrong, that it's an unethical way to assert my boundaries. The fact that all the children you know who aren't smacked are basically feral, or all the adults who won't smack replace it with emotional abuse or extraordinarily punitive and abstract strategies just doesn't wash - I doubt it's true and you don't know everyone anyway. I'm sorry people are struggling in their parenting but don't think that means their children learn anything useful by smacking. I'm not perfect and I don't expect perfection from others. I just think you teach through your actions as much as what you tell your children, and if you don't want them to smack people you shouldn't smack them.

So you can get yourself wound up and outraged that I would dare suggest that you have to think about the principles at stake, but until the 'defence' of smacking has a rational way to answer concerns about that principle -we don't hit each other - there's not much to discuss.

Snorbs Fri 19-Apr-13 11:25:14

growing up not able to have social skills, know your boundaries or follow the 'rules' be it of society or family, leads to a whole set of problems in later life of its own..............

Yes it does. But growing up not being taught social skills, boundaries or rules is nothing to do with smacking. It's to do with good parenting.

extremepie Fri 19-Apr-13 11:28:48

I don't know, I think it is very difficult to determine.

I was smacked as a child - often, with force, sometimes with 'objects' (wooden spoons etc) and sometimes when my parents had gotten to the end of their tethers and lost their tempers. I sometimes went to school with bruises on my legs from being smacked.

I have been 'told' by several people on MN that this means I was physically abused as a child but somehow I just don't feel that I was.

I knew my parents loved me very much and they were doing what they thought was right at the time, following the example of their own parents. They weren't and aren't bad people or bad parents, they just didn't know any other way and were doing the best they coulc at the time.

They would always apologise afterwards and explain why they had done it and I always knew that it was, in a way, 'for my own good'.

When I got a boyfriend who hit me (at 15), I knew it was wrong and totally different.

I don't think being smacked as a child has affected me at all really - I can see how it might for some but I still have a good relationship with my parents as can't say it has had any real long term negative effects.

BTW, I am only 27 so grew up in a time when smacking was starting to get 'frowned on' and was not necessarily the norm!

'Smacking does no harm if a child feels loved'


'smacking is fine, as long as it's tempered with a backdrop of love and affection?'

are totally different things.

If you have a magic way to ensure that a child you smack will feel loved despite that, no doubt it will feel loved. However, no-one has as yet come up with that. Smacking a child who does not feel loved and then getting loving and affectionate is more likely to mess with that child's head and make them feel shit.

Just my opinion, obviously.

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 11:36:29

extremepie How would you treat your own DCs?

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 11:38:42


Shallishanti Fri 19-Apr-13 11:39:53

thanks for the link, it does work.
There's a lot in the paper about the culturally specific group the research looked at and they compare the results to other cultural grouops known to use 'harsh discipline'.
What they measure in the teenagers is the degree to which they 'externalise', nothing else (like how happy they are). Now, I'm not sure what is meant by this and they don't explain it, although they do say that it was measured by maternal report, in olther words they asked the mothers what they thought about the teenagers.
A quick google suggests 2 meanings for externalising-
1. tendency to project your own bad qualities onto others, eg seeing them as violent/aggressive when that is really how you are yourself but you deny it to yourself
2. directing 'troubled energy outward' by behaving in ways that are violent, bullying etc
I gues they mean 2.
In which case, the research is saying that, in a culture where violence towards children is the norm, if children feel (even just a bit) loved by their parents, as far as their parents are aware, they don't engage in violent behaviour themselves.
Which is a LONG way from saying 'smacking does no harm'
It might be what readers of the Telegraph amongst others want to hear. But IMO, this research is only useful for people who are or are working with families where violence is a cultural norm, which doesn't include most of the people on MN I'm guessing. Even then, I think you would have to look much deeper at the consequences of that style of child rearing to conclude it 'did no harm'.

shufflehopstep Fri 19-Apr-13 11:44:51

I've never felt that it has damaged me being smacked when I was child. It was something that I was told would happen if I did X again and was not something that was suddenly sprung on me. It wasn't for everything I did wrong, usually if I was going to do something that would put me in danger (running about near a busy road, playing in the kitchen when things were cooking, etc.) I do remember, however, being about 8 and realising that the smack didn't actually hurt and so my parents realised it was no longer working as a form of punishment and had to use different methods. By that age though, I would have been able to understand why it wasn't safe to do those things.

Having said that I can remember very clearly 2 or 3 occasions when I was hit in anger. Speaking to my parents now, they were racked with guilt when it happened and it still sticks in my head. My sister and I both fought like cat and dog when we were younger and I have been known to smash things and lash out violently when I lose my temper even now (not at people - usually at pillows or cushions). I don't know if this is something I've learnt or if that's a natural response to the emotion of anger (other animals lash out violently so maybe it is a combination of nature and nurture).

Having recently become parents, DH and I had this conversation a few months back when something was in the news and DH is VERY against smacking as a form of punishment as he believes his aggressive temper (again not violent towards people at all but has been known to occasionally punch walls, smash things, etc.) stems from being hit as a child.

We won't be smacking our children but that said, I don't understand the argument, you wouldn't smack an adult. You wouldn't tell an adult off for doing things at all as you would expect them to understand the consequences of their own actions and make a decision accordingly whereas children are gradually learning about the world and becoming aware of their place in it so need an adult to make those decisions for them.

Shallishanti Fri 19-Apr-13 11:45:01

Oh, and what Sparklyboots said.
My Dcs are all in their 20s/late teens, I have not used violence or the threat of it to discipline them, nor emotional manipulation, pretty much as SB describes. They are in no way feral nor ever were. Polite, considerate, pro social, empathetic. And very untidy.

doyouwantfrieswiththat Fri 19-Apr-13 11:48:35

I was smacked excessively, it harmed me. When my mother calmed down she'd tell me she only did it because she loved me. Smacking was acceptable when I grew up so nobody questioned the extent of it and my mother could minimise it to other people.

She was not a bad person, just one that needed more help than she got.

I won't do that to my children, I may lecture and be overbearing to them, I try not to but the truth is that I lack parenting skills because I never learned them by example.

Somersetlady Fri 19-Apr-13 11:50:05

snorbs i appreciate your point but its your idea of good parenting. just because its your belief doesn't make it right or wrong.
Good parenting surely is doing your very best for your children as you see fit to bring them up loved and secure and helping them make their own way in life.

someone who uses a light smack for discipline doesn't follow is a bad parent.

what about smokers who pollute their children's lungs or parents who farm their kids off to nannies whilst hardly spending anytime watching them grow up..... i am not having a go at anybody's parenting merely pointing out that as long as the child is not physically harmed there are worse things you could do.

I fall into the category of light smacking when i was a child and now this might shock you but......

i am not scarred by it.
i don't think its acceptable to go round hitting other adults.
i know it would be wrong for my husband to hit me or vice versa.
i have a great relationship with both my parents even my dad who hit me around the back to the calves with a wooden spoon once.
i was lightly smacked it didn't get harder or more regular as time went on and lead to abuse.
i do not remember ever being lashed out at or have more pain than a mild sting and it certainly made me consider my actions far more than being sent to sit on the stairs (the naughty step was in our house over 30 years ago) which lets face it was just a mild inconvenience and not something to be feared at least to me!

i would be that i am one of millions of children who fall into this "yes i was smacked but never hurt and only with good reason" catagory.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Fri 19-Apr-13 11:52:38

The question about adults with learning disabilities is a very good one and I would love to see it answered. Because it is a very good and extremely relevent point if the argument is ability to understand. Isn't it?

My sons are 12 and 13. They have no sense of danger. If, when they are 30 and 31, they run into the road because they have no sense of danger, is it ok for me to grab them and smack them?

If it is not - then why would it be ok for me to do it when they are 2 or 3 or 4?

It's not a ridiculous argument or comparison, not at all. It's just difficult to answer!

TheRivieraKid Fri 19-Apr-13 11:55:55

My Dad used physical violence on a regular basis - I was smacked (usually round the head, which really hurt) and sometimes kicked as far back as I can remember until I turned 16. He never apologised. It's done me plenty of harm, to the extent that at times when my little DD does something naughty, I have to mentally restrain myself not to hit her.

I actually think smacking teenagers does more harm to them than children (which I think is harmful in itself), as when you're a teenager you're struggling enough with your place in the world as it is. Having a parent who can hit you when they feel like it with no repurcussions is massively confusing, feels very unfair and humiliates you. I also think teenage girls (possibly boys too, I don't know) who are exposed to physical violence at this age when they're trying to judge the kind of man they want as a partner in the future are probably more likely to pick partners who are physically violent. Certainly happened to me.

As far as my experience goes, smacking does harm.

MintyyAeroEgg Fri 19-Apr-13 12:07:42

Apologies for my recent silence. Went off to rl and didn't realise I had upset anyone! Bof has explained why I had trouble with it. It is very triggering. And now about to go off again, but hopefully the issue with the name is now not the subject of the thread.

reallyyummymummy Fri 19-Apr-13 12:08:00

I have never been anti-smacking and feel the evidence comes from the ministry of the obvious. My parents smacked me and I never feared them and always knew I was loved (although my father did have a wicked temper). A lot of the time my parents did not even check themselves and say "was that proportionate" they would just do it.

I have smacked my children in the past (with the eldest it is now getting less frequent as he is capable of understanding rules and consequences), and I don't feel guilty for it and I know it hasn't damaged them - they are both still extremely naughty at times and completely at home with telling me how I should be doing things. I am pretty sure that this is not the sign of damaged children!

I do see it as no worse than a time out (which is mostly completely ineffective). A parent needs to do what works for them and sometimes it is a smack.

SmileAndPeopleSmileWithYou Fri 19-Apr-13 12:10:41

I think there are MANY alternative ways of dealing with behaviour you don't want to see in your children. I just don't understand why you would need to smack children!
I couldn't bring myself to hit anyone, it has never crossed my mind.

I also think that for very young children it is a confusing message. Parent tells them not to hit people because its bad, but yet the same "role model" is hitting them.
In my experience as a teacher I have seen a few reception age children hitting others. When questioned about it they have actually acted exactly how the parents would, they hit a child who was doing something wrong and they struggle to understand why they are the ones in trouble.
I appreciate that this isn't what all children would do, but still, food for thought!

OhLori Fri 19-Apr-13 12:16:02

Like many things, the answer is not black and white. Ongoing violence, smackings and beatings are obviously harmful to children and teenagers. However, the odd smack for older children, 5+, is not so bad. I think it can be better than outlandish shouting and screaming for example - which I believe has replaced smacking for some parents, now that smacking is so frowned upon, and can be worse IMO.

I used to be vehemently anti-smacking and I still am in many ways e.g. I believe babies and toddlers should never be smacked.

However, occasionally older children 7+ can really be a pain in the neck especially boys, and will simply not do as they are told. If you have tried everything else then I think the odd smack is not harmful IMO (though it should be rarity and obviously I don't mean beatings in any way either).

notfluffy Fri 19-Apr-13 12:25:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rachaelmother Fri 19-Apr-13 12:31:12

I do so hope that in the very near future enough people will say 'NO' to smacking and change the laws of this country. Marvellous to have opportunity for this debate and have read with interest the contributions here.

People power is a very real experience. It changes traffic and transport laws, installs zebra crossings, ensures votes for women and promotes equality issues, workplace health and safety conditions and ensures better workplace facilities for pregnant women; we can effect change. Either by the slow sure system the wood louse employs which eventually eradicates a chair or a building, or by persistent insistent supportive messages to those attempting to effect change for the better.

What a fabulous forum for debate this is. I look forward to reading more of your views.

If our highest thought is to smack our child/ren what are we understanding when we say the word discipline? My understanding is 'discipline' comes from the word disciple. I believe a disciple is a follower. If we wish our child/ren to follow our example, let us reveal the best in humanity not the worst.
I believe smacking is a pretty low level of communication, of teaching, we could reveal to our child/ren; not the best example to follow. As humans we will fail miserably a lot of the time. We will be embarrassing to our children and many seven year old children and teenagers will express hatred towards their parent at some point....And if we know that is normal, we can accept it and build on the relationship, not diminish their clear expressions with a smack. Show them we are adult enough and secure enough to accept their feelings, however extreme they are. They are children learning the ways of adults and those who love them.

There is no 'definitive' methodology for parents to follow. We fumble from day to day...that is our lot! The least we can do therefore is the best we can offer, not the worst. We can at least limit the damage, reduce the risks and minimise harm. Smacking never ever reduces harm; it adds fuel to a burning fire. Either the fire within the parent or the fire within the child.
And how very peculiar, to my mind anyway, that so much smacking is done behind closed doors and if we do see it happen, we are told to mind our own business.

If it's done in secret, the parent clearly cannot own their own behaviour. That is not very adult. Taking responsibility for what we do is part of adulthood. If it is done in public and we are told to mind our own business when we cry out, gasp and show concern for the child being hit, we can at least acknowledge this is a public place and the hitter has made it our business. Again the hitter is not taking responsibility for their behaviour.

We are our children's first role models. If we wish our children to choose well, let us at the very least help them with good enough role models in their upbringing. And because we are human we are imperfect and totally unable to be perfect, so let us be good enough at least. Smacking is not good enough. It is cruel, abusive and reveals a lack of emotional resources, a reduction of strategies available and can also be a cry for help from the floundering parent.

Even as we congratulate ourselves on not smacking child/ren, we perhaps also need to be aware of the parent who did not bring a child into the world to inflict cruelty, but ran out of ideas, support and emotional resources because of their own stresses and difficulties and lack of supportive ears and shoulders.

I am lucky, I was able to contradict some of my family's behaviours...I read books and watched different parents' behaviour and learned from them that which I wanted to do and that which I decidedly didn't want to do as a parent. Smacking children is illegal in other countries....people who hit their children manage to control themselves abroad, why not here?

Is there a fear of making it illegal in Britain as so many people think it's a human right to be allowed? abuse? to hit? to demean a small person? Why cannot our governments acknowledge it is wrong. Why can't our law makers make it illegal to hit a child whether or not it leaves a mark...(how crass was that additional phrasing?) why can't our governments,health officials and education advisers come together in their wisdom and declare it is not in the interest of a child to be hit, smacked or whatever the term is.

Or are they, the lawmakers, the governments, the advisers the people unable to take responsibility for their actions? Are they the ones who cannot act as adults? Are they the ones who just cannot own that by doing 'nothing', by inaction, they are contributing to the harm exacted on our children.

Ooops sorry this was a bit long...excuse me...I am a first timer. I will learn concision as I develop.

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 13:00:55

Sorry somersetlady IMO You ARE scarred by your upbringing otherwise you wouldn't be arguing FOR smacking; it's the age old "it never did me any harm".

The unruly DCs one sees sometimes are often slapped too. Their parents tend to ignore them when they're being quiet and "good" but slap them when they're being a pain. Often it's the only way a DC gets attention (even if its negative attention) so they continue with the unwanted behaviour just to get a reaction.

Good first post rachaelmother grin

babyboomersrock Fri 19-Apr-13 13:04:16

Excellent posts, Shallishanti, especially this:

"the research is saying that, in a culture where violence towards children is the norm, if children feel (even just a bit) loved by their parents, as far as their parents are aware, they don't engage in violent behaviour themselves.
Which is a LONG way from saying 'smacking does no harm'
It might be what readers of the Telegraph amongst others want to hear. But IMO, this research is only useful for people who are or are working with families where violence is a cultural norm, which doesn't include most of the people on MN I'm guessing".

I'm always saddened by the defences people present for hitting their children. All the "he pushes my buttons" remarks could equally be applied to those irritating old folk with dementia - but we show little sympathy towards those relatives who do hurt their elderly relative, and rightly so. In any case, if you are the sort of person who thinks it's ok to have buttons, I guess you feel you're kind of special. The rest of us presumbly don't have buttons, or at the very least ours aren't as sensitive as yours? It does make the adult sound like a weapon primed to go off at certain triggers.

My children are adults - they weren't hit, but they were shown boundaries and I was firm about things which mattered. They're happy, responsible, loving people and not at all undisciplined.

Having children isn't a right - you don't just invite these people into your lives and then proceed to hit them in order to make them fit your lifestyle.

Snowflakepie Fri 19-Apr-13 13:19:03

I don't want DD hitting another child over a toy or when she doesn't get her own way. I ask her not to do it, that it hurts them and is unkind. So what message does she get if I then smack her for misbehaving? Even if it doesn't leave a mark, it will be thing she remembers. There are better ways to teach our children how to behave and respond when angry.

fromparistoberlin Fri 19-Apr-13 13:22:08

I thought this said "smoking not harmful" and was soo happy!

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:26:15

I have never understood the 'you wouldn't smack another adult' argument.

It's as if there is no different rules, social acceptances, between adults and children.

I wouldn't let my child, drink alcohol, smoke, do drugs, have sex, drive a car, Watch porn or inappropriate age films. etc. but an adult can.

Adults and children are not equal. (herein lies the problem)

Having worked in YOI and colleges, it is really hard going annoying to have to come from a postion, where they think YOU need to respect THEM.

It's not just about smacking (sits firmly on the fence) it's the complete lack of respect some children have and the way they are consulted on adult topics (moving house, picking schools) hmm

It used to be seen as a pre-dominatly working class problem (discipline of kids) but you only have to watch 'the worlds strictest parents' to realise that middle-class parents are catching up fast, in being unable to control their children.

Too much child centred, shrieking at tough love, ie, cc, and guilt because the econony as to work full time imo.

Disclaimer. Not all working class and not all middle class - just the ones with this problem. grin

Awaits flaming. <ducks>

don't duck! stand and take it straight on woman! grin

i would like to see that 'smoking does no harm' post too

i definitely feel more guilt about smoking than i do about having tapped a toddler hand when it was stuck in a friends video recorder for the tenth time running.

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 13:37:02

sassy34264 IMO and E DCs and adults are not equals but there's no reason to DISRESPECT them. Why shouldn't everyone be treated with respect? I have worked with DCs all my life and have always listened to them (i'm not perfect BTW but I treat people and DCs as I would like to be treated).

Why shouldn't the whole family discuss a decision as important as moving house don't the DCs live in the house as well?

JustinBsMum Fri 19-Apr-13 13:38:12

I was against smacking until I watched Bedtime Live on Channel Four with the excellent Tanya Byron.

Children were beside themselves with tiredness and had upset and stressed their parents, siblings, and themselves with their inability to get to sleep for months/years.

Well, a quick slap on the bottom at the start of the 'problem', a sharp order of back to bed and a threat of another slap if they messed about and all that angst and missed fun, 'misbehaviour' due to tiredness, wouldn't have happened. Sometimes it is the best option imv. The poor children could have been labelled difficult or perhaps with ADHD when all they were was tired.

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:38:59


I'm not sure mn and my keyboard would cope swallowed because it is really a big bug bear of mine.

I was practically forced out of teaching crowd controlling, and now i have to argue twice as much with my 12 yr old dd, because i'm tough love and strict (probably not really) compared to other parents. (belly button piercings, watching 15 films, kitten heels, make up ) shock at 12

it's bloody hard work. I never smacked her growing up, and thankfully she was a goody 2 shoes who never pushed my buttons.

Where the hell did that child go? grin

kelb6180 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:41:02

Lots of interesting views on this matter.

When does smacking a child become abusive?

It's against the law to hit someone, if you did and they called upon the police you would be arrested and questioned/charged.

If you was hit by a police officer when you have done something wrong, that police officer would have to justify there reasons and suffer the disciplinary actions set before them.

So why the hell would it be seem a fair punishment when a parent smacks a child for misbehaving?

A tap on the fingers, a smack to the bottom, at what stage do we as society see this as abuse?

If a person you left you child with smacked your child whilst in there care because they had been naughty, that person would be deemed "abusive" to that child... So what makes it right for a parent to smack the child?

GizzaCwtch Fri 19-Apr-13 13:41:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrRected Fri 19-Apr-13 13:42:16

I suppose I could smack my 11 yer old - given he is 6 foot tall - he'd think it terribly funny.

Smacking = lazy parenting IMO. This is from somebody who was on the receiving end of my fathers fist as a child sad

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:45:14

ppeat how can you respect a child?

People have confused the word respect with just being kind.

I wouldn't let a child make a adult decision. They haven't got the experience. I'm not now or ever going to be dictated to by a child.

Lots od my dd's friends picked their school. The criteria being - whichever their friends were going. hmm

That's not to say that after i had carefully researched my dd's school. i would flat out refuse to move her if she was being bullied. I'm kind to her, but i don't respect her opinion on things she isn't old enough and wise enough to decided.

I'm moving in a couple of weeks. She is having to move schools. I didn't ask her about either. She's a child.

kelb6180 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:46:18

Also found this of interest:

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 13:46:31


Totally agree with every word.

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 13:56:35

sassy I didn't say DICTATE to me I just said that something that affected the whole family like a move would be best discussed by the whole family. IMO If you start just telling your DCs to do things that's when you get the bad behaviour. They feel humiliated and as if they don't count so you may well end up with runaways and or self harming.

I was smacked as a child (all myfriends were too, late 60's when I was at primary school). Teachers could still use corporal punishment and I had my legs slapped by a teacher a couple of times. Boys were caned on the hand.

So home and school, I was brought up to expect to be hit if someone bigger/in a position of power thought I had done something wrong.

When I was 14 my first boyfriend 'smacked me' because I had done something he did not like (I had worn a pair of drainpipe jeans and his friends were all passing nice comments about me). I didn't tell anyone. He did it again over some other trivial things but I did nothing.

Later on my ex started to hit me after a couple of years or emotional abuse. Looking back now I can see I accepted it as he would say I drove him to it etc and I deserved it. Just like when I was smacked as a child. Also when I DID ask him about it he would laugh and say 'its only a smack' as if calling it that (ie something you would do to a child) trivialises it.

I will not smack my children or let anyone else do it either. I know a couple of mothers who do a 'little tap on the hand' if a child is naughty and its the ONLY thing I will interfere with how a parent brings up their child.

I am not saying that everyone who was smacked will go on to be a victim or perpetrator of DV, but it made me think it was ok for other people to hit me if I was angry with them.

I have two boys and once. Just ONCE dp smacked one of them. I ripped his head off. he knew my 'past' and what a mess I'd been after leaving ex. when I sat him down and told him why I object so strongly, he understood and our children were never smacked again.

Its wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Just as schools are no longer able to give corporal punishment, neither should adults to children.

To add, we had other ways of doing discipline which with warnings, then the punishment was explained and the child was made to feel loved. Our children always get good reports for behaviour from school and other parents when they go to their friends houses.

Meglet's view 'Mine get smacked sometimes, usually when all hell has broken loose and I'm being constantly ignored. If there's a choice between a smack or everyone being late for school / work then a smack is the least worst option.

I tell my children I love them every day and they talk to me if they are worried about something, so (so far) smacking hasn't destroyed our relationship.

Now the children are school age I know many parents who smack. It's far from perfect parenting but real life isn't perfect and children push your buttons to the very limit.'

is one I really identify with. I have smacked all of my children when younger. I know perfectly well that this out of anger and it's not admirable behaviour on my part but it is what it is. When my children have children I will follow their lead on discipline. Interestingly though I know that my mum smacked me (and I don't flinch.) I know her mum smacked her but she (my grandma) has only smacked me once (argument re trouser wearing when there was a bus to catch so i'm told, i don't remember it). I know my mother has never smacked my dc. My nan used to whack my dad with a wooden spoon shock and then never laid a finger on us let alone a utensil. So my personal experience suggests that there is something in the frustrations that arise from parent-child day to day to living that results in smacking rather than any sustained wish to abuse as I think some are suggesting. In 6 years of mumsnet use I'm well used to the smacking = lazy parent/total bastard etc. It's nonsense.

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:08:04

I did neither of those things and my parents didn't consult me. hmm

I think quite the opposite.

Over burdening children with adult decision isn't wise imo. What if something went wrong with their decision? Might they feel some of the responsibility that adults feel?

If they want to pick the christmas tree, or which restaurant or take out we're getting etc, that's fair enough, but not real big life changing decisions. confused

AMR73 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:08:19

Monty Roberts (Horse Whisperer) says "violence is for the violator, never the victim". If he can educate horses using gentle methods, without resorting to violence (I have been to 3 of his demonstrations- the guy is amazing), why can't we do the same with children?

GizzaCwtch Fri 19-Apr-13 14:08:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ClodiaF Fri 19-Apr-13 14:09:23

I was smacked occasionally as a child. Can't remember now why, really, except that my mum smacked when she lost her temper, which didn't hurt, and my dad very rarely, which did. I don't think it did me any harm tbh: it was better than the other things they did (like the lectures that went on and on.....), and I did feel loved and secure on the whole. I wouldn't smack mine, but mostly because I think times have changed: we're more conscious of the issue now, and wary of how it might look to others.

WoTmania Fri 19-Apr-13 14:12:13

IMO there are better ways to deal with 'bad' behaviour (in 1/2/3 yos I wouldn't count it as bad as it rarely comes from a place of malice jsut curiousity and unthinkingness) and while it may be harder work fro me I believe in the long run it will be better for my family on the whole not to smack.

I was smacked as a child it didn't teach me anything other than defiance ('didn't hurt anway') and to eithe cover my tracks well or lie about what I had done. So, while it hasn't scarred me for life it wasn't a productive action either and I definitely had/have trust issues with my parents.

GizzaCwtch Fri 19-Apr-13 14:12:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WoTmania Fri 19-Apr-13 14:14:33

Oh and I don't smack but I don't give long droning lecturers or guilt trip and emotionally manipulate either. I make it clear what the problem is, the behaviour I expect (and know they are capable of) and try and have an enviroment of mutual trust and respect.

GizzaCwtch Fri 19-Apr-13 14:17:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kelb6180 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:17:21

Take it from a mother who doesn't smack her children who are now 8,11 & 13 there are alternative ways to punish your children and if you take your time to find the correct alternative methods that work for you, your children will behave in the correct, respective manor.

I rarely have to tell my children off, I don't recall a time that was so bad I had to enforce punishment that was extreme, I've counted, they have endured the naughty step,and they have had confiscations and lost out on treats.

My relationship with my children is the best I could have hoped for as a mum. Nothing's perfect and never is, but its a happy house with correct boundaries.

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:20:11

I luff you gizza


You are me! I'm guessing your children are younger than the one's i taught, because, 'because i say so' does not go down well with 16-18 yr olds. wink

My mum use to say it. I don't really, but i might start!

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 14:20:37

Your lucky class and DCs hmm I love that intelligent "because I say so" it's great to be spoken to like that; You must be one of the few adults I know who can come up with totally rational solutions. Amazing to be so perfect ,lucky you hmm Oh yeah and the government are all rational are they?

I would say I was raised well, to be respectful, polite and thoughtful about other people.
I would also say the (few) times that my mother hit me (smacking is hitting, yes, it is), were low points for her. Absolutely the worst part of her (generally awesome) parenting. I remember those moments. I hated her at those moments. I felt humiliated and betrayed, that she couldn't possibly love me if she treated me that way. I remember several of those moments to this day, thirty-odd years later.
I forgive her, of course - but I don't think it was right or that it 'never did me any harm.'

I suspect she would agree with me that they were moments when she wasn't being a good parent. I'm sure she'd add that I'd pushed all her buttons, driven her mad, she had three small children to deal with, etc etc. But I know she wasn't proud of smacking us, and this was the 70s/80s.

I'm not afraid of being the bad guy to my children, I would say DH and I are quite tough on discipline (teachers!). But no one hits anyone in our family.

I would feel like I was raising them primed for abusive relationships if I combined "I love you so much!'' with physical violence and expected them to believe it.
Discipline = teaching. What are we teaching them, if we teach with hitting?

GizzaCwtch Fri 19-Apr-13 14:28:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:31:53

I was at a farm a few months back. They had a bouncy castle and i was stood watching my 3 dc's. The whole time i was stood there, a mother was negotiating/persuading her child (about 3/4) to put her shoes on.

It was about 10 mins.

I'm not saying she should have smacked her, not at all. But she is the adult and she should take control of the situation and make the child put her shoes back on. It was ridiculous.

And i do think the 'it's wrong to smack' rhetoric as thrown up the, 'rationalise, discuss and negotiate' with children rhetoric.

i was smacked quite regularly as a child and because i was the eldest, my sister seemed to delight in getting me into trouble. whilst i don't remember it, thankfully, i do however remember the fear of hearing my dad shout, he broke my bed once whilst i was still in it because he was angry - i didn't know what i'd done. i still flinch occasionally if someone raises their hand.

dd's father smacked me round the face a couple of times (different occasions) i didn't even think of the height difference (6'2" to my 5'6") and walloped him in self defence. whilst he didn't do it again, he got charged.

my point is it is illegal to assault an adult in this manner, why is it only termed 'smacking' when the assault is against children???????????????

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 14:41:48

It's a null argument imo auro

It's illegal to have sex with a child, but it's ok to have sex with an consenting adult.

They are 2 different things and the argument is me anyway

WoTmania Fri 19-Apr-13 14:41:58

gizza but people on here are saying they use smacking or see nothing wrong with smacking as a parenting tool. There are loads of resources out there these days there is no need to fall back on 'never did me any harm'.

sassy I agree that the negotiate/plead/shout spectrum isn't great parenting. But it isn't the only alternative to hitting children, there are other ways of using warnings and consequences than hitting.

Badgerwife Fri 19-Apr-13 14:45:01

I was smacked occasionally as a child as were my sister and brother. I am trying to recall and I think it must have been for pretty serious stuff as I don't remember it happening very often at all. It never affected my relationship with my mum - a lot of other stuff did though, we don't have a perfect relationship by any means - but I never felt unloved. I suspect because the primary way that I know whether someone loves me or not is not through touch but more through words. However my sister's experience of the same thing is completely different to mine and she would argue that it was abusive. I think it very much depends on personality how kids will respond.

That said, I still have no intention of smacking my kids for all the reasons stated by people in this thread.

For all the people saying that we can't compare to adults, how about making the closest possible comparison.
I argue Thai we shouldn't hit children because they are vulnerable (have less power than us adults) and are in our care.
How about if a vulnerable adult with a mental age of three or for was in my care, say my mother or sister. If she played up, would or be okay to smack her?

I argue THAT...bloody phone.

satyricon Fri 19-Apr-13 14:50:32

Such a difficult thing to debate. Why? Because, naturally, in this environment you can take a step back and analyse it rationally. And when you do that, any reasonable person can think of far more reasons why it's an appalling thing to do than reasons why it's right.

But surely - if any of us were to do it - it would happen at the last extremity of your patience. Speaking personally, my mother hit me (many times). I don't flinch from her, I don't have horrible memories of it, and I was, on many occasions, a ghastly little sh*t. In fact, I adore her, although I could probably tell her more often.

Intellectualising this is fine, but - just like those people who see a harassed mother with a screaming child in a supermarket and tut about their poor parenting - it's unlikely to be helpful or relevant. Each case is individual, there are doubtless people for whom one slap will be a psychological issue they'll remember for decades and others who regularly got a clip round the ear and had forgotten about it an hour or two later, in the same way that there will be parents that will agonise over and castigate themselves for a single unguarded clout and those for whom physical punishment is the norm.

boxershorts Fri 19-Apr-13 14:54:12

give him a smack is a term used by criminals. Smacking is usually about the anger of the parent not about the child. You will never smack anyone who is as big as you are

boxershorts Fri 19-Apr-13 14:55:54

The smackers tend not to show their hand in public because a complaint is only a phone call away

boxershorts Fri 19-Apr-13 14:57:42

I am suprised mumsnet raised this (Busy smackers perhaps?)

cathan Fri 19-Apr-13 15:00:49

In my opinion, smacking is never right and always harmful. Most parents smack in anger and I don't believe it teaches anything, except that adults can lose control and hurt you. I was smacked as a child and I'm sure my parents felt they were doing it in a loving way to "teach me a lesson". For me, however, it was always traumatic. Perhaps I was a particularly sensitive child. Perhaps not. In any event, my experience led me to never smack my children. They are both well behaved and confident now and I have never regretted my parenting choice which my partner completely supported. Ask yourself - would ever be acceptable to chastise an adult this way? Of course not, so why should any adult physically assault a defenseless child.

DinoSnores Fri 19-Apr-13 15:02:33

"I hate the ''it never did me any harm'' argument. It obviously did harm you if you now think it is acceptable to hurt a child."

That is a wonderful circular argument that adds nothing!

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:03:28

I agree blackcurrants i currently have my dd's phone, ipod and ninetendo, for 2 weeks, as a form of discipline.

Intellectually i can't really justify smacking. And i'm not for it when parenting. But when i see some little shit child either on tv or whacking everyone at nursery, my default position is, 'he needs a bloody good smack' half joking.

I think the point i'm trying to make however, is that it's not so much that smacking was a good parenting tool, it's that a lot of the alternative chosen is useless.

I don't think it's a massive co-incidence or takes a genius to find a correlation between the decline of smacking, and the rise of anti social behaviour and downright disgusting behaviour in schools.

or to put it another way, with the hatred of smacking a new ideology of child centred, un-disciplinarian way of thinking as materialised.

Sorry if it doesn't make sense! confused

boxershorts Fri 19-Apr-13 15:06:03

Oh it makes a sort of sense. Hitting has gone down hill as acceptable over hundreds of years

WoTmania Fri 19-Apr-13 15:07:12

that child 'whacking' everyone at nursery (hitting? shocking!) may well be a child who is smacked at home.
I would also be willing to put money on most of the really badly behaved children at school, and most criminal not coming from non-smacking homes. I would guess that actually the problem is ineffectual parenting rather than a lack of corporal punishment.

boxershorts Fri 19-Apr-13 15:08:14

it would be interesting to here Victoria Derbyshires opinions on smacking little children Shes hot on punishment

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:08:57

Sorry to disappoint you wot but his mum is of the talk, discuss, rationalise brigade. She looks absolutely worn out as well.

WoTmania Fri 19-Apr-13 15:11:27

why would I be dissappointed? In that case maybe she needs some support.

willowberry Fri 19-Apr-13 15:15:32

It's very easy to be smug and sanctimonious if you have managed to raise your children into wonderful young people just with a firm word and explanations, choices and consequences, thinking step, etc.

For DS2 and DD this is the case for me- I've genuinely never needed to do anything more as they respond to the above and are generally line- towing.

However DS1 is FAR more challenging and has difficultly 'seeing it coming' in terms of repeated warnings, adults' patience waring, upsetting others around him. I'm not proud of it and if I were a better parent I maybe could have handled it better, but there have been occasions where after many warning and 'last chances' he has had a smacked bottom. Almost always this has resulted in a short, sharp shock to him and a complete turn around in attitude and behaviour, which has made me think- why didn't i just do this 10 minutes ago and avoid all that futile negotioation.

It is something I battle with and would rather not do but both DH and I conclude that for DS1 it is the only effective solution to unacceptable behaviour.

For everyone out there who has never smacked and their children are polite and well behaved-fantastic good for you. But not all children are so receptive to the same forms of discipline.

Somersetlady Fri 19-Apr-13 15:16:23

yes ppeatfruit of course i am scarred and you are the best person to judge that as you know me and my life history so well.......

i could explain exactly why at 34 years of age and being well balanced i don't need to be told from someone unqualified with no prior knowledge of me why your comment is so ludicrous.

um hang on a minute..... actually your so way out i think I will do as a previous poster did and disengage from even getting into it with you.

im off to ask a 3 year old what family car we should get next........

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:18:08

I meant it would disappoint, in the sense that it doesn't back up your asumption. That's all. smile

Maybe she does, she just had her 3rd child. And although i have all the sympathy in the world, I have 4 dc's, 3 are under 3 and 1 is about to hit 13, so unfortunately i can't give it to her.

And when her son deliberately races his tikes car into my 1 yr old and there's blood everywhere- my sympathies evaporate.

All kids do this to some extent, but when he's already bashed about 4 otherss beforehand, he gets the label of being a problem to the welfare of the rest of the children.

MrsBungle Fri 19-Apr-13 15:25:14

Just because I don't hit my kids doesn't mean I negotiate every little thing with them. For example, I would never spend 10 minutes negotiating and discussing putting shoes on with my 3 year old. She would be told to put her shoes on. End of conversation.

I am not the type of parent who negotiates and discusses really. I expect my rules to be followed and I expect good behaviour. I do not hit or smack them, though.

willowberry Fri 19-Apr-13 15:31:47

Unfortunately some children instinctively challenge what they are asked to do. It is not always as simple as 'I just ask them to do something and they do it.'
MrsBungle if all yours do then well done, but some of us are not so lucky!

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:32:03

I'm aware that there is a lot inbetween a smacking and negotiating spectrum mrsbungle sorry if that point isn't clear.

I just mean that as smacking as declined the negotiaing/explaining ad nauseam parenting style has imo become too overly used.

Not by everyone........obviously.

MrsBungle Fri 19-Apr-13 15:34:47

I was just responding to the posters who appear to think that if you don't smack you are the type of parent who gets in to long winded negotiations with your kids about every little thing.

My kids certainly don't do everything I tell them first time - of course they challenge what they are asked to to - they are not robots. What I mean is I manage to be firm without feeling the need to give them a slap.

kelb6180 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:43:39

Agreed mrsbungle

Willsmum79 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:43:55

I was smacked as a child - and given the 'face in face' treatment with the scowl, curled lip and the jabbed finger. It scared the living daylights out of me. I would cry and feel unloved after it happened. My mother would take a long time to come back down from her 'high' of violent outbursts for the menial of things I did.
I grew up knowing that the punishment in my house was a smack on the legs. I also grew up with a mother who had increasingly aggressive behaviour and would give the silent treatment for weeks on end, making me, my brother and my father uncomfortable. Still, 30+ years later, she can STILL rule with an iron rod, flitting between being happy and cheery and then angry and cold the next.
My brother has disowned her for a disagreement that I still know very little about and since then nearly 5 years ago, he has shut me out of his life too, I think because I still have a relationship with my mother which today is very strong.
Despite my mother's mood swings, she looks after my toddler 2 days per week. She travels the 120+ miles every week to spend quality time with him. She never smacks him despite me not talking to her beforehand about mine and DH's wishes to discipline him. She still believes in smacking but I think experience and knowing about different discipline tactics has meant she doesn't NEED to resort to it.
I'm not sure about the research behind the study. I was smacked, like I said, as a child and I'm not sure how you can KNOW whether smacking does a child harm or not.
I was a believer in smacking but since having my toddler, it breaks my heart to see him hurt when he falls or bumps into things so how can I inflict harm on him by smacking him when he's done wrong?????

willowberry that made a lot of sense to me. all children are different and all situations are different.

bored of the idea that if you smack you don't use any other parenting skills whatsoever and obviously smack all the time. the smack may have been used when all other things failed or when there wasn't time/energy/whatever for the other strategies.

also bored of the talk of 'hurting' a child. i don't think i ever hurt ds. it wasn't about pain. he is a lover of having his bum smacked when playing (please don't slaughter me for that - talking about tickling, swinging, messing around play here not anything dodgy) and his bottom has been smacked harder in play to giggling delight than it was ever smacked as a telling off. for me it was that we both understood because of the extreme rarity of it's use that a smack was the absolute end of the line and proof that he had gone really, way, way too far.

in the same way when i was teaching teenagers i was not a shouter so if ever i was actually forced to raise my voice everyone knew a line had been crossed and was highly responsive.

I think smacking is a bad idea and practice. But I'd keep the law where it is at the moment as many otherwise good parents have smacked a child occasionally.
I think there are lots of better and more effective ways of raising and disciplining your child - mainly talking it through and consequences.

WoTmania Fri 19-Apr-13 15:53:02

I'm rather bored of the idea that if you don't smack you're some lentilweaver who had 20 minute conversations pleading with your feral children to put their shoes on/stop hitting the cat etc

I'm curious SAF how your DS differentiates between a playing smack and a 'told off' smack? Presumably tone of voice and manner etc in which case why not just use the tone of voice without the hitting smacking

PrivateNightmare Fri 19-Apr-13 15:53:55

i'm always totally shocked when i hear people admitting to using violence to punish their children. i can't even begin to understand a position like that.
i'd also like to point out to some people on this thread that discipline and punishment are not the same thing at all. my DD is no stranger to discipline but has NEVER been punished.

chocoholic05 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:56:37

I don't smack my children. I was smacked as a child and so was my dh. My parents now say they regret it. Also my dad said to my dh about four years ago when ds1 was about 3 and dh threatened to smack him if he did somethimg again, "take it from the voice of experience smacking never ever works and is never the answer." Dh didn't smack him by the way. However my fil has smacked ds1 aged 7 in the past totally against our wishesshock he did it at a day out at a farm during February half term. After he'd done it pil commented that he'd been asking for that all morning. Really? I don't recall my ds actually asking to be smacked although he had been playing up something terrible! angry

Wishiwasanheiress Fri 19-Apr-13 16:00:02

I will use a smack if I deem it required. It's my choice. I was on occaision smacked and I was/am very loved. I'm confident of that so I agree with the title. It's uber last resort. I feel I use it responsibly as possible because of how I was treated. Maybe I'm lucky that way.

I don't agree with smacking the day lights out of people or bullying. I have never seen any smack that I had as either.

SirBoobAlot Fri 19-Apr-13 16:03:28

You may be hitting your children because you feel you are helping them.

However, the message you are sending your children is an entirely different one.

Ironic how some people have said they smack because children can't understand danger / something they have done wrong, and yet expect them to understand that they are being hurt with love.

THAT is seriously fucked up.

And as for ''I was smacked, and I am fine'' - well, firstly I don't agree you are. But mainly... You are 'fine'. I have a personality disorder, issues with relationships and boundaries, and a hell of a lot of other issues. Your child may grow up to be like you. Or they may grow up to be like me, and my other friends with PDs who suffered at various levels with their parents, and are struggling with the consequences years on.

TheSmallClanger Fri 19-Apr-13 16:06:24

My parents smacked me and it was not part of "warm, loving" parenting. My mother especially used witholding of affection from me, with calculated smacking a part of that. She was also strict, which I understand, but inconsistent with boundaries, which I don't.

Recently, we have talked about this as adults, and she has admitted that she was too strict with me about things which did not matter. She is unrepentant about the smacking, and claims she only ever did it two or three times, which I know is not true.

PrivateNightmare Fri 19-Apr-13 16:14:40

well said, SirBoobAlot. i was smacked as a child and like TheSmallClanger, my mum now says it was only a couple of times but it was regular, unpredictable (for me) and went on repeatedly until i was about 13. i now have serious mental health issues. those of you who beat your children - they may be ok, but they may be damaged in ways you and they will not be aware of for many years.

satyricon Fri 19-Apr-13 16:14:44

"And as for ''I was smacked, and I am fine'' - well, firstly I don't agree you are."

Hey, no offence, but please don't transfer personal experiences to others. It's a) rude and b) ignorant.

vixsatis Fri 19-Apr-13 16:17:05

The arbitrary yelling and the threat of being hit with the big white stick kept behind the wardrobe did at least as much harm as the actual smacking.

I have a pretty distant relationship with my mother, funnily enough.

Smacking is never right. I know this in part from the one occasion when I nearly did it: I had lost control of the situation and my temper. It solves nothing; it teaches nothing good; it's abuse of a pretty unpleasant kind.

How lovely the view must be from your high horse, PrivateNightmare. hmm

Everyone who has admitted to smacking has also admitted that aren't proud and that it's a last resort/loss of control. But judge away, please.

PiratePanda Fri 19-Apr-13 16:18:39

I was smacked by my parents and I knew they loved me. I have always and still have a great relationship with them. That being said, I still don't think it's right to smack children and I wouldn't smack my own, except in the direst of life-threatening circumstances (deliberately running out into the road for example).

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 16:25:02

Can I just ask a question, to those who have said they have had a bad experience from being smacked as a child?

If smacking was illegal, do you think your parents would have done it anyway? Or do you think you would have been verbally and emotionally abused instead? Or do you think, they would have just looked for alternative reasonable ways of discipline?

Genuine question, that i am interested in knowing the answer to. Feel free to ignore.

PrivateNightmare Fri 19-Apr-13 16:26:00

no high horse, AnnieLobeseder. what did i post that made you feel judged?

sassy34264 Fri 19-Apr-13 16:28:30

I was smacked as a child. Not very often and only once by my dad.

I don't feel like it affected me. In the sense that i am not deeply hurt, nor do i have a distant relationship with my parents, and i didn't feel unloved etc

'For everyone out there who has never smacked and their children are polite and well behaved-fantastic good for you. But not all children are so receptive to the same forms of discipline'

This is a very sensible comment. I have one child I honestly can't remember ever smacking. Generally it was possible to discipline her without a smack. I have two who I know I have smacked. Very different children, very different dynamics.

If we're being honest those who would describe themselves as 'non-smackers' should add a qualifying 'yet' and those who have smacked should add 'so far'.

Whilst I'm addressing the sanctimonious brigade may I add that I haven't hit my children. I haven't slapped their heads or faces or indeed any body part except for a flat palmed smack on the bottom. When people get all humphy about 'hitting' children you're just confusing the issue.

Piemother Fri 19-Apr-13 16:38:36

my eldest is 3.6. my youngest is 5 month so its not like i haven't had my moments with them lately. dd1 has really pushed my buttons in the last few months and i've really yelled at her but i've never smacked her.
i want my daughter's memeories of childhood to be that the worst things that ever happened were that mummy shouted now and then and that very occasionally they were put to bed early for being a pain.

exh used to say he was open minded about smacking then he saw (long story) what frequent smacking really looked like in terms of parenting and general family dynamics, was duly horrified and is now resolute this wont be happening with our dds. To his credit.

This is always going to be an emotive topic.

I was smacked, and I remember very clearly the times when it was done in a rage. I will never, ever forgive my father for those times. It irrevocably damaged our relationship. He doesn't know that. I bet if I told him now he would deny all knowledge and try and pass things off.

There is no excuse for violence. Raising your hand to another person is violent. Raising your hand to a child is appalling violence because a) they trust you, you are their whole world and b) they cannot fight back.

PrivateNightmare Fri 19-Apr-13 16:47:25

those of you who smack your children - how do you feel about other people smacking your children? teachers for instance?

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 16:49:34

I think this discussion is really about the way we view strong human emotions, and the idea of "destructive normality" e.g. that the "normal" human experience is free of suffering, people are in control and act reasonably at all times, their actions are commensurate with their beliefs etc.

It saddens me when you read people who describe their mothers/fathers/carers as "generally awesome" and then say that the few times they lost control were unacceptable. So, you got hit by someone who had lost control for a second. Someone who hugged you every time you cried, who made sure you ate and slept regularly, who lay at night awake worrying about you, who shared their thoughts, interests and experiences with you, who read to you, who told you they loved you, who took an interest in your friends and schooling, who considered your education and spiritual welfare as serious matters, who taught you how to wash and dress yourself and tidy up your environment, who laughed with you and worried when you were sad, who generally gave you a childhood of routine and predictability... but...had very rare moments in which they behaved in ways they were not proud of?

So you hated them at that moment. So you can remember these moments with bitterness.

My question here is... so what? Really, so what? If the experience of being smacked taught you that an adult who was generally loving, predictable and kind could lose control on occasion and experience fear/anger/rage etc, what's the issue? Do people really believe that any parent can raise a healthy child without sometimes losing control? Perhaps they won't hit, but who will parent without saying something or acting in a way that is not in line with their values at some point? Or alternatively, who believes you can parent the way you believe is best and not have that style inadvertently impact upon your children in negative ways?

It's called humanity, people. I think in reality very, very few people in this culture at this point in time either want to smack or believe it is okay. Some of them may sometimes lose control. I did once. My son (3) randomly turned around and pushed his baby brother's highchair over with force, hitting his brother (9 months) with force in the head. I reacted before I even realised. I was literally going to pick up the baby with one hand and I slapped him on the bum with the other hand. I didn't wallop him, but was it a considered decision that I can defend? Erm, no. Did I believe it would be teaching him a lesson... or that it was a good idea? No, again. I got a tremendous fright and I also felt angry. It's not supportable but it was human. I apologised and we cried together for a few minutes, all of us, and then we got on with the day.

The important thing is that you return to your values, time and time again, not that occasionally you may find yourself deviating from them.

'If we're being honest those who would describe themselves as 'non-smackers' should add a qualifying 'yet' '

I will add no such word. I have never hit, smacked, slapped or given any other kind of physical punishment to my children and I never will.

I don't spend hours negotiating with them, we have and always have had firm boundaries and other forms of punishment and they work.

And to the person who asked if our parents would still have done it had it been illegal? I don't think my parents would have. But when I was small, it was perfectly acceptable and so much so, that you would see children having their legs slapped etc in the street if they were misbehaving when with their parents. It was just the norm. Some people were affected by it later in life (me), some people aren't. Why take the risk that your child is one of the ones who will be affected.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 16:50:32

Leaving my personal experience out of it, I simply can't understand how it's okay to do to a child, what would be assault if you did it to an adult.

Saying it's only OK if you do it to your children is the same as saying it's all right to beat your wife.

I agree with posters who've said it's unhelpful to conduct the study on teenagers. Teenagers are still children, with limited capacity to dispute their parents' authority (hence why they keep trying to!)

Oh and my children are 7 and 8 so if I was going to smack them, going off what other people say here as it being a last resort or a parent losing it etc etc, I am sure I'd have done it by now.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 16:52:59

'If we're being honest those who would describe themselves as 'non-smackers' should add a qualifying 'yet' '

What a disgusting assumption. By contrast, I can add a qualifying "now" - and am prouder of my choice not to emulate my parents than anyone could be of choosing to excuse violence against children.

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 16:54:07

Also, I truly believe that when you find fault with your parents as an adult in a way that is about not "forgiving" them for their humanity, the issue is yours and not theirs. Anyone who says they will never, ever forgive their parent for anything other than severe physical, sexual or emotional abuse is simply carrying around suffering that they could choose to let go. We only live now. If you are not forgiving your parent for something from ten/twenty/thirty years ago, you are choosing to do that now. The actual incident is long gone and is only words and pictures in your head. If you think that it's reasonable to continue to live your life based on words and pictures in your head and that it is in line with your values to judge another person harshly, go ahead but that's your decision NOW, not a "result" of something from years ago.

Well obviously privatenightmare, should the teacher smack my little darlings I would wallop them round the head with my handbag of hypocrisy. Happy now? hmm

The serious answer is that as far as I know only their father and I have ever smacked them. I expect their teachers, our family and friends to keep the dcs safe above all. I expect the teachers to keep control of themselves, as I do when operating in a professional context. I expect to keep control of myself in a personal context too but I also must accept I have failed at that and may do so again. If I fail in a professional context though I expect sanctions to be taken against me of course. I would have been perfectly happy for people dealing with my dcs to 'parent' as I have parented. So to smack in the way I have would be acceptable to me. It is not professionally acceptable however for teachers to smack in tehir professional context. Goodness I suspect dd3's teacher would have like to on occasion.

motherinferior Fri 19-Apr-13 16:55:54

My father told us all the time how much he adored and loved us.

He also smacked us.

I hate my father.

JustinBsMum Fri 19-Apr-13 16:57:27

I would think it's debatable whether shouting is worse than smacking - the problem is everyone is taking the argument to extremes.
Saying would you smack an adult, well no adult is going to run across the road in front of a car, and if they do you won't care as much if they are run over as if it's your child, you love your child more and are responsible for their safety.

A smack maybe once or twice in their life eg when they ran onto the road and the smack was an instant response might be a better idea than loudly saying not to do that again, when you shout at them daily for something or other.

forgot who asked me but my son is 6 and hasn't had a smack for years as far as i recall - know he had the odd one in toddler stage. the difference between playing and a smack? pretty obvious - one involves cuddling, tickling, messing and ds saying, 'smack my bum!', 'tickle me', etc between squeals of laughter and the other was something that happened in the context of repeatedly doing something with repeated warnings and consequences till final warning of 'do that again and i will smack your bottom' followed by a tap (lighter than when playing as i said) on the bottom.

i already explained why it worked for us so don't think i'll repeat that except shorthand to say nothing to do with pain or punishment but a clear gone too far, 'the end' moment.

in reality he probably had ten smacks in his whole life.

if that actually - probably more like 5 but i'm ok with admitting it happened a few times.

Working9, I didn't even realise that smacking had left this 'issue' with me until about 5 years after I left my abusive ex.

I hold no grudge at all against my parents because they simply did what was the parenting norm at the time. But it would be a lie if I said that I accepted being hit by the ex boyfriend/partner as anything else than conditioning from when I was a child.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 17:06:35

I truly believe that when you find fault with your parents as an adult in a way that is about not "forgiving" them for their humanity, the issue is yours and not theirs.

Well, this is offensive.

It appears we have different ideas about what forgiveness means, working, but that's a side issue. The problem is that my childhood failed to provide the social & emotional foundations we expect people to grow up with. That's a serious disadvantage. Of course I blame my parents - I didn't do that to myself.

just been thinking and i wouldn't dream of smacking ds now. he is 6yo and there would be no need whatsoever and it wouldn't be at all effective in any way. to me there is a massive difference between tapping a toddler/preschooler who has lost the plot or is determined to not be reasoned with on the hand or bottom and hitting an older child.

my own view is that those taps were very rare but effective and not harmful in a very specific short window of development. to smack him now would be ridiculous - he's 6! i know i'll be picked apart as irrational but i do think it is wrong to smack a child over the age of 3 or so.

PrivateNightmare Fri 19-Apr-13 17:08:20

yes, along with Flibberty, i don't feel the need to add a qualifying "yet" just as i don't tell people, "i haven't hit my husband, yet" there are somethings i know i will never do.
working9while5 - we all react in our own way to extremely stressful and frightening situations and while i agree that we must make mistakes in front of our children, the line to be crossed is in different places for different people. just as many parents who smack occasionally with an open palm as a last resort would never pick up a belt to use on their child, even in the most extreme and stressful situations, i would never smack my child (or anyone else for that matter) with my hand regardless of the emotional state i'd got into.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 17:09:34

Flibberty, as you describe: Whatever the child receives from its parents, it experiences as love. (Attachment theory.) The adult who was thwacked by its parents, therefore, develops an understanding that love is violent and/or painful.

agree garlic - i do think there's a difference between parents being human and fallible and parents being outright dysfunctional, abusive or neglectful iyswim i though. it is right to judge the latter to overjudge the former is unkind imo.

see one of my lines is definitely that i would never say, " you ARE xxxx " (insert negative trait/word/accusation).

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 17:11:47

Flibbertyjibbet, you do realise that's a story you are telling yourself though?

I am not saying this harshly. I had a far from ideal childhood (seriously abusive alcoholic dad, mother with anxiety issues who would basically avoid all childcare when she was anxious, disappear for hours and even overnight leaving us alone yadda yadda yadda).

I can see how there was conditioning in my background that heightened my susceptibility to anxiety myself as an adult, I could also say that this very same conditioning made it more likely that I would react by smacking as an adult in a moment of weakness. I think this is possibly true but I am also aware that a good deal of our reality is mediated by the stories we tell ourselves about our life history and maybe neither of these things are true. No one remembers everything about their childhood or its general mood or tone, it is impossible to recreate because it's gone. It's the nature of human language and cognition to be able to react to memories as though they were real and current, but that's just a sad part of our humanity too.

I have huge compassion for your suffering both as a child and as an adult in an abusive relationship. I just don't believe that it's ever as simply causal as that. If that were true, you would never have chosen to leave, you would have to stay. You didn't. You have choice and free will no matter what your life history. It's not simple but in terms of current functioning, blame very rarely achieves anything.

We are not the content of the stories we tell about our lives for better or for worse. I didn't choose an abusive partner despite having a history that might have "conditioned" me for it, but that's just half chance. All our choices are, they're just not as open to control as we believe. There's no need for self-congratulation or self-blame, but that sort of holds true for your background too.

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 17:13:17

"working9while5 - we all react in our own way to extremely stressful and frightening situations and while i agree that we must make mistakes in front of our children, the line to be crossed is in different places for different people. just as many parents who smack occasionally with an open palm as a last resort would never pick up a belt to use on their child, even in the most extreme and stressful situations, i would never smack my child (or anyone else for that matter) with my hand regardless of the emotional state i'd got into."

How do you know?

RainbowsFriend Fri 19-Apr-13 17:13:42

I was always in favour of smacking for my own child - until I had one! She is a very strong willed toddler and when tantrumming it is very tempting to want to "shock" her out of it - but to be honest it would be lack of control, or either premeditated violence - both of which are awful.

(I find me slamming a door in another part of the house is enough to bring ME round from anger when she's tantrumming - and for her I just wait it out then cuddle)

I was also smacked as I child and although at the time I would agree I deserved it - I also know that each time it happened I HATED my parents and withdrew from them a bit more. I would be very sad to do that with my daughter sad

and it is reductionist to say a child who is abused will see abuse as love. it just isn't true - not in that causal sense as plenty of us who were abused have not responded in that way.

i know how my mother treated me as child wasn't love - i knew it wasn't as a child and rejected the, "she loves you really" narratives my father would provide. we are more intelligent than pavlov's dogs.

i'm sad that so many people can remember being smacked - as in were smacked when they were old enough to now remember it and remember how it felt.

i actually don't believe there is any justification for smacking a child over the age of three or so.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 17:18:01

Of course it's reductionist, SAF! It's half a line in a post!

it was a statement none the less - i don't think my stating it on it's own changed it's content.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 17:21:53

sad that so many people can remember being smacked - as in were smacked when they were old enough to now remember


My first remembered 'smack' made an impression because I flew across the room and hit the wall. I was about four. There would have been many, many before that.

Does that fact that violence was my normal, and so not much remembered, make it harmless??

My father also hit my nephew this hard (flew across room) when he was toddling, about 19 months. He doesn't remember this, so was it fine that my dad did it?

that isn't a smack that's abuse. that's major violence and what anyone here and the law would classify as abuse. i'm very sorry for your childhood but i'm not sure why it's a weapon against me or i'm seen as sanctioning it confused

and it's not at all what i meant - that it's ok if you don't remember. i'm sure that was clear. my point was that imo as i have said clearly that there is no excuse or need for 'smacking' children who are beyond three as reasoning and emotional lability etc is totally different by then.

PrivateNightmare Fri 19-Apr-13 17:30:52

northernlurker - i really wasn't looking for a reason to call you a hypocrite. i must have an aggressive way of typing or something???
i am genuinely interested, since teachers take over parental responsibility to some extent and also lose their temper on occasion, i just wondered how people felt about it. in lots of countries corporal punishment is used in schools and i believe is legal here in some religious "sunday school" type settings.

Piemother Fri 19-Apr-13 17:32:54

Not all children are receptive.......
Dd1 is the opposite of receptive when she wants to be. Doesn't qualify a smack.

noddyholder Fri 19-Apr-13 17:33:46

It doesn't matter where you hit them the very act of hitting a child gives out the message that you can get someone smaller and more vulnerable than you to toe your line of you strike them. There is no valid argument for it yet people still try. My mum smacked and hit all of us and we all resent her for it.

coffeeaddict Fri 19-Apr-13 17:34:14

Haven't read whole thread but this research doesn't surprise me. I look at the animal world. Mother lions cuff and growl at their baby lion cubs to stop them doing daft things. I can't believe that generations and generations of parents from cavemen onwards have damaged their children by smacking them to stop them running towards a woolly mammoth/speeding car.

Punishment which comes out of love is one thing, whether physical or mental. Punishment which comes out of cruelty is torture, whether physical or mental. I think equal damage can be done, either way.

sunshine401 Fri 19-Apr-13 17:51:11

Comparing an adult in the street to your child is very odd. You do not have raise and guide that random adult. So yes you would not smack them but nor would you put them in time-out or take away their computer games grin.

BTW I am not defending smacking, I just think it is a bit odd to use that kind of comparison.

'i believe is legal here in some religious "sunday school" type settings'

Can you evidence this? Never heard of it myself. On the contrary the sunday school I am aware of has clear policies that mirror those of schools in terms of how discipline will be imposed.

My DS1 is the most likely candidate for a smack I've ever known. Often DH and I will get through a hideous tantrummy bedtime and pat each other on the back for not smacking our child. He seems to be unable to physically contain the extent of his rage/emotion/overtiredness sometimes, and can neither say what is the matter nor, really, calm himself down without help and intervention.

The fact is, that's when I most want to give him a smack. Yep, that's right, I want to hit him sometimes. I'm as human as can be! But I don't, because I know that it would be for me - I imagine I want to do it because I think it would make me feel better. I know full well that hitting him at any point in his tantrum would escalate the horror, rather than stop it/calm it down.

Parents smacking, I see as basically parents having a tantrum of their own. I don't blame them particularly, I've often felt like doing it myself, who doesnt' want their own tantrum sometimes? But I stop myself, and repeat that it wouldn't HELP the situation I am in at all, and could cause it damage.

EugenesAxe Fri 19-Apr-13 18:05:30

I do agree that not hitting is the best way to go, although I have done it in the past when I've lost control.

Reading back a few posts - noddyholder my DM smacked both my sister and I and we love her to bits. Just for another perspective. coffeeaddict has put across a very reasoned argument in my opinion - sort of how I feel.

I would like to say that people always say 'You wouldn't hit an adult so why do it to a child?', and I ALWAYS think 'I would probably hit any adult that wound me up as much as my children have - they just know when to stop.'

Ultimately though I think hitting is bad; I try very hard not to and haven't for a good while now. I can't really see much benefit coming out of it, except in that Pavlov's dogs sense, when your child is about to something that could be deadly (like running into the road).

I don't know if anyone can answer this one, I'd really like to hear how people who think smacking isn't that bad might answer it. I'm not being arsey, it's not some 'ahah!' question - I just find it my stumbling block when people say "well don't compare it to hitting an adult, it's different, no one would let my child drive either, children are different" - if I imagine this scenario

*How about if a vulnerable adult with a mental age of three or for was in my care, say my mother or sister. If she played up, would or be okay to smack her? What about to stop her running into the road? Or if she hit me/ the cat/ a baby?
Can I smack my mother with dementia or my sister with a mental age of three or four? Would that be okay?*

Because that's where my line is. Would I do this to someone else who was vulnerable and in my care?
And, of course, when someone (my mother) says "I'd give him a smack" I ask: would it help? How?
Dmum has admitted that no, it wouldn't help, but it might make me feel better. We had a laugh about that, actually, as I love her honesty smile

Ah! perfect timing, Eugenes

How about if a vulnerable adult with a mental age of three or for was in my care, say my mother or sister. If she played up, would or be okay to smack her? What about to stop her running into the road? Or if she hit me/ the cat/ a baby? Can I smack my mother with dementia or my sister with a mental age of three or four? Would that be okay?

i personally find the comparing adults with special needs to three year olds incredibly offensive.

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 18:16:25

A vulnerable adult with a mental age of three or four is not the same as a three or four year old, neither is a person with dementia.

Sadly, in terms of language and cognition, a four year old often has much better "skills" than an individual with special needs who may never attain that level of language fluency or ability to do certain tasks but that adult is still an adult who has accrued a lifetime of experience.

This does not mean that children don't require dignity and respect, of course they do. It's just that comparing adults who have lived with disability all their life to typically developing children is in itself neither dignified nor respectful.

SirBoobAlot Fri 19-Apr-13 18:17:29

Satyricon - What I meant to say was anyone who was smacked, says they are fine, and then smacks their own child is obviously not 'fine'. Anyone who feels they deserved to be hurt by someone, and then feels justified in hurting someone else, is not fine.

JustinBsMum Fri 19-Apr-13 18:18:05

No Ahah moment for me.

The patient with dementia wouldn't be able to learn from it, it would be forgotten and they wouldn't know why it was done in the first place.

The vulnerable adult would be given more allowance to do reckless things due their disability but smacking could work in an emergency. As with dcs only if a special situation arises, not routinely.

people keep doing it on this thread working9 and it is making me really uncomfortable.

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 18:32:46

"The patient with dementia wouldn't be able to learn from it, it would be forgotten and they wouldn't know why it was done in the first place.

The vulnerable adult would be given more allowance to do reckless things due their disability but smacking could work in an emergency. As with dcs only if a special situation arises, not routinely."

Oh dear.

You see, I don't agree with smacking. I think it is wrong, I just think that in a parent-child relationship there's probably a chance that there are some times when a situation that appears deathly serious provokes a parent to revert to that animal part of themselves, the mother lion who bats her lion cub away. I can imagine that in those rare situations (in our world) a smack is literally a mother/father reacting out of their "primitive" brain, the brain that existed before language and in which physical action was the only way to communicate. I think it's no accident that there a number of people who say the only time they ever smacked was in a situation where they feared for their child's life.

There is never going to be a situation where that applies to someone who is caring for an adult with either learning disabilities or dementia. I know in the States that there are some institutions where electroshock therapy is used to prevent adults from gravely injuring themselves due to repetitive serious self-injury but a discussion of the rights and wrongs of that are really nothing to do with a discussion on smacking.

pointythings Fri 19-Apr-13 18:45:50

Haven't read the full thread, but even looking at the title of the research suggests hat it relates to a particular cultural subset of young people and may very well not be generalisable to young people elsewhere. On those grounds alone I would cry 'Bollocks'.

And all the other arguments against smacking (hate that word, it's hitting, don't gild the lily) from many of the posters above.

I'm finding these responses really helpful, thank you.
You see, I'm trying to tease out the strands of thought that make adults smacking children acceptable, but children smacking children, or adults smacking adults, unacceptable.

Thanks for your responses.

MrsBungle Fri 19-Apr-13 19:04:00

Whilst I'm addressing the sanctimonious brigade may I add that I haven't hit my children. I haven't slapped their heads or faces or indeed any body part except for a flat palmed smack on the bottom. When people get all humphy about 'hitting' children you're just confusing the issue.

I usually agree with a lot things you write Northern and I am not trying to be argumentative but can I ask (genuinely) what you feel the difference is between smacking and hitting?

To me, a smack or a hit or anything physically 'violent' (I realise there are loads of levels of violence but it's violence all the same) is the same thing. I am really not trying to confuse the issue, I just see don't see the difference - it's like people try to use terminology to try to lessen what the act is.

Oh, and apologies to the offended.
I honestly don't think that in any of the situations I've been tempted to smack my nearly three year old, he would have learned anything from it. So hence my introduction of adults with learning difficulties differences as analogy.

SconeRhymesWithGone Fri 19-Apr-13 19:06:24

The way we discipline our children is our chance to help make the world a more peaceable place, one child at a time. It is very important that we model acceptable behavior in how to deal with conflict in our interactions with them. I believe that we should strive to discipline them without hitting, without shouting and yelling, and without smashing/destroying property.

Further, I think the Telegraph made a huge and misleading leap from the study cited to its headline. I also think that cultural context is important, but that we need to work to change cultures that accept that hitting children is defensible.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Fri 19-Apr-13 19:08:40

HenryIsUpduffed "A child is either too young or too old to be smacked"

That is one of the most sensible and insightful things I've read on here. I might just have to steal it and pass it off as my own.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 19:08:48

I wasn't having a go at you, SAF, sorry if it seems that way. Unfortunately this subject usually tends to evoke a lot of personal defensiveness. It bears much in-depth discussion (and has done since humans were able to discuss it!)

Leaving my experience right out of it, I am adamant that all physical punishment is violence. There are places for violence - in self-defence, for example, which wouldn't be necessary against a child - and there are places for hitting without rancour - in play sometimes, and in some sports.

I understand what you've said about smacking DS, and feel sorry you've had to justify and qualify your choices. I used to smack small children but decided never to do it again after examining the issue more closely. I concluded that expressed anger is sufficient punishment for a child and, thus, any "final resort" punishment will do the job as well as a smack, without the implied acceptance of violence. I certainly know many parents whose hard stare is a big enough deterrent to poor behaviour in children, and this is what I aimed for in my own actions (with reasonable success, I think.)

Actually the hard stare is useful against oiky yobs, too, ime, and far safer than hitting them wink

I usually agree with a lot things you write Northern and I am not trying to be argumentative but can I ask (genuinely) what you feel the difference is between smacking and hitting?

To me, a smack or a hit or anything physically 'violent' (I realise there are loads of levels of violence but it's violence all the same) is the same thing. I am really not trying to confuse the issue, I just see don't see the difference - it's like people try to use terminology to try to lessen what the act is.

I agree really, I don't understand why smacking is a kind of special hitting/slapping. Using the word only specifies "hitting a child with an open hand as a disciplinary method" rather than being a different physical action.

I understand "tapping" even less tbh - if smacking works at all, surely it's because it hurts, so what does a non-hurting smack achieve?

Jesus you're welcome to it. I've been having this discussion for years - my parents were among the few non-smackers in the 1980s - and that's the core of the matter for me.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 19:17:27

What's all this about mother lions? We're all feline now? Cats carry their young by grabbing the neck with their teeth; should humans do that too? grin

If you bother to watch a cat batting a kitten away, she doesn't hit the baby. She bats it with a soft paw. It's the equivalent of you shunting your annoying toddler (or, indeed, cat) off the book you're reading.

whose children were you smacking garlic?

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 19:23:21

The children of people who paid me to raise them, SAF.

Anyone who was smacked, says they are fine, and then smacks their own child is obviously not 'fine'. Anyone who feels they deserved to be hurt by someone, and then feels justified in hurting someone else, is not fine.

YY, this is the exact conclusion I reached.


garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 19:35:20

?? Is it that you condone violence against children by their genetic parents but not by other carers? How does that make sense?

AMR73 Fri 19-Apr-13 19:38:20

GizzaCwtch- Monty Roberts has also helped a significant number of troubled children. (incase anyone is interested, his book is called "Horse Sense for Humans". For you horsey folk, the organisation in the UK, re horse training methods, is "Intellegant Horsemanship")).

i don't know - i've smacked ds a few times between toddler and 3yo on very rare occasions whilst solely responsible for his 24hrs a day care and everything else involved in being a parent.

yes that seems very different to me than smacking many children as part of your paid role of taking care of someone else's children for a few hours a day.

OrWellyAnn Fri 19-Apr-13 19:46:23

If an adult smacks another adult it's assault. Can't for the life of me fathom why this doesn't apply if an adult smacks a child.

SirBoobAlot Fri 19-Apr-13 19:54:09

SconesRhymesWithGone - I couldn't agree more.

The world is already far too violent, far too negative. We are lucky in that as parents, we have the opportunity to shape the outlook our children have on that world, and also on themselves. I want my DS to grow up feeling that he is safe, that his body is his own - I don't hug or tickle him if he says no, because I respect his right to his own body and his own space, as I expect other people to respect mine.

That right to safety and security within his body does not, and should not for any child, change when I am angry.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 19:56:39

SAF: It wasn't a few hours, I was their nanny. Does that make a difference ... and should it?

My employers expected me to smack their kids much more than I did - another time, another place. I never told anyone I'd decided to stop it completely, mainly because families that hit would have taken it as criticism. If the children told their parents/grandparents/etc I didn't hit them, I joked about my "regard terrifiant" smile

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 19:58:07

... if we ever meet up, we should have a scary stare contest grin

noddyholder Fri 19-Apr-13 20:03:11

Why is is sanctimonious to not be violent to your children? Only on MN

toomuchpink Fri 19-Apr-13 20:17:58

Parents should not smack in a losing their temper way. That is a loss of control and lashing out. However, I think in very young children smacking in a controlled way for very naughty behaviour can be useful and not harmful. The child should be warned that if they repeat the bad behaviour again, then they will be smacked. They should be told why they are being smacked and it should be done absolutely calmly, just once. The child should be made to apologise for what they did wrong afterwards and cuddled. I remember being smacked on a few occasions. Mainly for lying. I do not remember it hurting, but I remember feeling ashamed. My parents may not have been perfect in every way, but the smacking did me no harm whatsoever.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 20:20:14

I can see why you would lose your temper, smack and feel remorse. I can't see why you would smack calmly, after reflection - if you can do that you can find better methods.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 20:21:18

It did you harm toomuchpink- it left you feeling it was acceptable as a parent

SirBoobAlot Fri 19-Apr-13 20:24:57

Toomuchpink - that made me feel sick. They should be smacked, then apologise for the fact that you decided to smack them, basically?

You remember feeling ashamed. You remember how horrible you felt. Why, then, would you want your child to ever feel that same way?

CognitiveOverload Fri 19-Apr-13 20:25:35

Agree with exoticfruits

Pan Fri 19-Apr-13 20:28:56

noddy - it isn't only on MN is it? This site isn't a microcosm of society.

From the second dd was born, and I dressed her in her first 'suit' immediately after birth, and put her under the heat lamp (she was v small) any idea of hitting under any circumstance was just anathema. I was hit as a child, really for no good reason, but I wasn't going to continue that legacy.

For the posters who say "I was hit as a child and it didn't do me any harm.." do you know? I suspect you mean 'I didn't turn into a raging psychopath, or angry, or wishing to be violent'. By definition, you have no idea what the alternative is? Being hit is a significant humiliation. It says, 'I don;t have safe boundaries, and these big people show that.'

CognitiveOverload Fri 19-Apr-13 20:41:39

Agree with pan. Smacking anyone or any animal is unnecessary. It's just unnecessary. Unless someone or something is threatening your physical safety. So why teach a child its acceptable. What other useful things could you be teaching that child instead. It's a lazy and damaging response.

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 20:49:17

But garlic, for some people that is what a smack is! When I say I smacked ds that one time, I basically tapped him on his bum with far less force than I would playfully tap my Dh on the bum! The idea of calling something that would send a child flying a smack makes no sense to me, I mean a slap like a little shove away. No ringing sound, no red mark on his bum.. an instinctive momentary reaction that I wasn't proud of nor would I like to repeat it. I apologised without condition.

I sometimes think people talk at cross purposes when one minute there is a 19 month old flying across a room and another is talking about a tap on the bum.

My mother used to wallop the living daylights out of me for stupid things like breaking eggs. She was really struggling in her marriage, isolated and depressed. I just can't hold it against her. I think she was doing her best generally and sometimes she struggled to live up to her values but overall she has given me more than I can put into words and for all the pain we endured together, we laughed and she taught me how to forgive and move on. I don't understand how people manage with the anger and blame in adulthood. I think if it's a struggle, you get help to move on but you don't stay a child and blame your folks for their demons. Again, severe abuse/torture aside.. that definitely requires support. Just the 'meant well but fucked up sometimes' sort.

toomuchpink Fri 19-Apr-13 20:50:21

I am not a big fan of smacking. I think if on a small number of occasions when other approaches seem to be making no difference, it is not damaging. Exoticfruits, I assume losing your temper with your kids is a bad thing generally, shouting at them loudly or whatever, is not a good way of dealing with misbehaviour either. I am not saying I never get frustrated with mine, of course I do, but if I yelled at them in a losing my temper way I would feel guilty about that. In some ways I think screaming at your children is worse. As is turning a blind eye all the time and letting them grow up thinking there is no such thing as no.

noddyholder Fri 19-Apr-13 20:52:55

Well I don't know anyone who smacks or admits to it.

noddyholder Fri 19-Apr-13 20:53:43

The fear when your parent hits you and the distress is awful

YoniOno Fri 19-Apr-13 20:54:24

It's interesting to me that the posters on here who do smack and are defending smacking, they all regret it afterwards, all apologise, all offer cuddles, all say 'I know it's not ideal' and 'they were pushing my buttons' 'I had seventy two under fours all running across the road'

A question if you'd like to answer it, pro-smackers - do you not think another 'final resort' type punishment would work logically just as well?

It seems like an emotional, unplanned thing to do. I do understand that people reach the end of their tether and want to hit to regain control, but I think it should be made illegal to prevent people reaching that step. No-one on here seems to want to hit their child - maybe this thread has made you think a little and you can advance plan how to react the next time your 'buttons are pushed'

Maybe there should be a parenting course on non-violence, like for men who commit DV...

SaF - is it possible your son wants to be smacked on the bum during play as a reaction to being hit there by you before? Like if he's expecting it, he can become in control of it and not fear it. I don't think that's massively healthy.

Pan Fri 19-Apr-13 20:55:10

It's the 'balancing' thing I just don't get. The research indicates 'it has no, or little, adverse effects'. As humans we have massive brains, and are blessed with the gift of 'good judgement'. Why, seriously, on earth are we invited to demur good sense to being violent? We are much better than that.

ThePlatypusAlwaysTriumphs Fri 19-Apr-13 20:55:56

It's always going to be an (over) emotive debate, isn't it?

FWIW I was smacked as a child. I know I was, but I don't actually remember any of the actual smacking. Ever. I don't feel damaged, had a great relationship with my mum (sadly now dead), and continue to have a really close, fantastic relationship with my dad. he is probably my best friend.

I DO remember times I "hated" my parents:
-when they rehomed my dog when I was 7 (because of practicalities)
-when they wouldn't allow me to go to an all-night party when I was 15
-when they insisted I be in before midnight when I was out with my boyfriend when I was 16

I don't smack my children, mainly because society tells me it is wrong. Do my kids still hit each other?- hell, yes!! Do I give them into trouble for it?-hell, yes! Do they continue to do it- YES!

I have to admit, I do sometimes wonder if I should have smacked my children. I had so much respect for my mum as a child, and as an adult. I would still argue with her, and I knew her faults, but I admired and respected her. I don't feel my children have the same respect for me sad They think nothing of trashing my stuff, each others' stuff, the house. I try to have consequences, but they don't really seem to care about them. They know I love them, and will forgive them, and no consequences I come up with seem to phase them too much. Take away a favourite toy? they tantrum for 5 mins, then play with something else. Their lack of respect for us, and our things, makes me sad at times. I have always respected them. I don't think I am a wheedler/ negotiator, and consider myself reasonably strict, but they don't ever seem truly remorseful. It's a puzzler.

Deffodil Fri 19-Apr-13 20:59:55

I never smacked my children. Cats-bum mouth,combined with disappointed eyes worked well,and a sigh. Shouting at them is not productive either,as far as I can see,unless they were trying to rip each others heads offsmile

toomuchpink Fri 19-Apr-13 21:03:30

Platypus - l like your thoughtful post.

I agree with YoniOno's comment yesterday that " don't know if there is one hit that will break their trust....".

Being hit does not feel good/helpful/loving, indeed if we encountered a child who said, 'I like being smacked and hit, it makes me feel loved." We would be rightly worried.

The fact that children are so loving and trusting to those who parent and care for then that even in spite of smacks and hits they can still feel love says more about children's love and trust than anything else.

Finally, children are learning all the time. What are 'we' (any one in general) teaching then when 'we' smack/hit/slap them? That if someone does something you don't like/don't want/don't approve of/or have already said not to do, that physically hitting that person is OK.

Whether you love your parents or feel love from them, the teaching aspect is rubbish, and the total opposite of what most parents would want to teach their children.

seeker Fri 19-Apr-13 21:10:15

I haven't rad the thread, but I put money on the following things having been said-

"I smack when they run into the or touch electric plugs[it's always those two] - better a smack than be killed "

"It's not a smack- it's a tap on the hand. It doesn't hurt at all"

"I smack, but we always have a big cuddle afterwards."

Why would anyone think smacking a good idea after reading those arguments?

Pan Fri 19-Apr-13 21:10:18

is there a sex thing going on? Is it more 'acceptable' to have mum hitting than dad? The report slides easily between 'maternal warmth' and 'parenting'.

So is it ok for mum to hit children and not for dad to?

Deffodil Fri 19-Apr-13 21:10:52

Anything that you wouldn't do to a friend is not acceptable to inflict on a child.

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 21:12:23

YoniOno, seriously? So once I slapped Ds on the bum (not leaving a mark, he was still in nappies at 3) because he had done something which could have easily killed my other child (literally flung him at nine months backwards in his highchair causing him to hit his head on the marble floor) and I am a pro smacked who should be sent on an nonviolence course? Despite always dealing with other behaviour consistently and non aggressively/violently, using standard positive behaviour strategies etc? Would the same applied if I roared at him even though this might be much more scary if it was loud and I was in his face? Should you really just always expect to be able to say 'now now darling we don't push over babies in highchairs, that isn't very friendly' like Stepford wife automatons who never experience rage? He was right beside me, it happened in a heartbeat, it was over in a second.

It seems as though the ideal is to show our children that we never lose control or do anything regrettable and we always, always contain our emotions. Is that the ideal,though? Doesn't that have its own unhealthiness? Fear and rage are part of the human experience and our job is to navigate these with our children not as saints but as fellow humans who will sometimes err. The important thing is to get back on the road after a bump, not to view it as the ultimate soiling of the perfect journey, surely?

madmacbrock Fri 19-Apr-13 21:21:26

Absolutly not, if you would not do it to your dog why oh why would you consider doing it to your child? It may not do any phsyical damage and I will say I was smaked a handful of times as a child and am fairly normal so it may not harm your charm but does it do anything good? In my opinion it show lack of control, laziness and just basis bad parenting.

ThePlatypusAlwaysTriumphs Fri 19-Apr-13 21:27:14

"Anythimg that you wouldn't do to a friend is not acceptable to inflict on a child"

Well, that excludes just about every possible punishment then!! Can't see me taking away my friend's computer time/ story-time, telling her she can't play on the wii or reusing to let her have pudding... Nor would I tell my friend she can't go to a party, or ice-skating. And I certainly wouldn't insist she clean her room.

So we're back to "I'm so disappointed in you because..."???

ThePlatypusAlwaysTriumphs Fri 19-Apr-13 21:27:58

thank you, toomuchpink blush

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 21:34:04

I assume those who "just tap" their children in punishment also "tap" their pets, madmac.

I agree with those who say shouting a lot is unreasonable, too. If you rarely shout, your voice can provide as much shock & awe as required.

ChompieMum Fri 19-Apr-13 21:37:32

I wonder if smacking is one of those things where in say fifty years time anyone reading this thread will say that they cannot believe we are even debating this as smacking is so clearly wrong.

I doubt we are culturally ready to ban it yet as too many people do it but I wonder if that day will come.

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 21:43:33

Because shouting is fine but a tap is violence? If we are going to apply that logic, then why is verbal aggression not tolerable in society? Shock and awe by voice = fine for a child but hey I might as well kill myself because one slap on the bum makes me a violent prosmacker with no respect for my child who will always hate me and feel bitter and may end up in an abusive relationship and with long-standing mental health issues? What ridiculousness.

When this comes up there are almost no posters who advocate for smacking but some who admit having done it and regretted it but pages and pages of going on about how it is heinous abuse and should be outlawed. I've posted on these before and no one ever responds to the idea that maybe sometimes people smack because they were smacked and in a moment they did something they regretted but never want to do again. It's treated like rape or a beating, something that can never be undone and will lead to irreparable damage regardless of the rest of the relationship, context, force etc.

Honestly? Is this sensible? Because if that's what's being said then by all means ladies, don't hold back.

ThePlatypusAlwaysTriumphs Fri 19-Apr-13 21:51:26

"I wonder if smacking is one of those things where in say fifty years time anyone reading this thread will say that they cannot believe we are even debating this as smacking is so clearly wrong."

And I sometimes wonder if the next generation, having lived through the non-smacking years, where children actually seem to get more, not less, violent, will wax lyrical about the psychological damage done by the naughty-step/ consequence/ negotiation based discipline, and start advocating smacking again!! I really have no idea, but it wouldn't surprise me if, in 15 years, my dd was saying to me "^Mum^! we don't talk to them about their behaviour any more- that's damaging! We just smack them and move on" (slightly tongue in cheek, but who knows??)

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 22:07:41

You're not making sense, working. Could you explain what you're so angry about?

I thought some who admit having done it and regretted it was the same as sometimes people smack because they were smacked and in a moment they did something they regretted but never want to do again.


garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 22:08:21

should have put quotes round the italics, sorry

motherinferior Fri 19-Apr-13 22:11:58

Yes, it's fully possible my children will hate me for shouting at them.

But I know I hate my father for smacking me. Not often, and always with protestations of 'love' and how it was all my fault anyway. But it hurt and humiliated me.

GreyWhites Fri 19-Apr-13 22:12:09

I'm pretty much in agreement with the idea that you can be disciplined through smacking but still feel loved by your parents.

My parents did smack me, but only when I was being very naughty. I don't think it happened very often, I don't remember it. It certainly never occurred to me my parents didn't love me, I knew I'd been smacked for being naughty. Mostly it seems to work as a threat, I seem to recall that the threat of a smack was enough to stop you running riot. In fact my dad shouting used to put the fear of god in me, I don't think he ever had to go as far as hitting me.

My DS is 2 and I have given him a couple of smacks in my time. He went through a phase of being very awkward on the changing mat and it would end up with poo everywhere, in his hands, hair, etc. and me fighting to get him to lie still. Eventually a light smack on the leg would calm him right down. Now he behaves much better and if he starts messing around the mention of a smack has him behaving. This seemed like a reasonable solution to me. I don't know how I would have managed the situation any other way. Either he'd have thrown himself onto the floor and hurt himself, I'd have had to physically restrain him so hard that I'd have hurt him anyway (and got covered in poo), or I could have let him run riot and covered the place in poo. I mean, what would YOU do?

Dittle Fri 19-Apr-13 22:29:51

Smacking is never, EVER okay. My dad used to smack me when I was little and to this day it has damaged my relationship with him. He would never attempt to discipline me any other way and as a result I was unable to resolve conflict with others at school (where I was bullied mercilessly) and got into a hell of a lot of fights. To this day, I have trouble resolving conflict and I believe that to be because my dad used to smack me.

Pan Fri 19-Apr-13 22:34:37

But GreyWhites - it shouldn't be an either/or ie I was smacked but despite that I was loved. a big-brain species we can work out how to do correctional stuff without hitting.

imo the MOST damaging stuff is done by neglect, or lack of interest in your children, or a total misunderstanding about childrens needs. Hitting them is just an endgame of that.

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 22:36:44

what would YOU do?

Well, it's just my answer but, depending on the child & circumstances, I'd either have waited - and cleaned up all the poo - or employed holding (restraint) with calm talk. Afterwards I'd have assumed something about the changing procedure was uncomfortable or frightening for him, and tried different conditions until he seemed happy with changing.

Pan Fri 19-Apr-13 22:40:23

I suspect it's largely a matter of parents ambition for their child. To suffer and accept violence is such a poor ambition, or acceptance.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 19-Apr-13 22:55:00

Partners hitting each other is DV yet its seems ok to do it to the children in the household.

If disagreeing with hitting children is being sanctimonious then i'd be happy to be classed as that.

Pan Fri 19-Apr-13 23:01:00

yes, 'sanctimonious badge-wearer' here too!

seeker Fri 19-Apr-13 23:07:19

Ooh, is someone handing our "sanctimonious" badges? Chuck one over here, someone!

chocoholic05 Fri 19-Apr-13 23:11:44

me too! grin

ChompieMum Fri 19-Apr-13 23:13:01

I changed my poo smearer standing up instead. Badge please!

garlicyoni Fri 19-Apr-13 23:19:21

Badge of RESPECT there, Chompie grin <polishes sanctibadge>

uncongenial Fri 19-Apr-13 23:23:18

How old was the child who was smacked on the changing mat? shock

uncongenial Fri 19-Apr-13 23:26:56

"I was hit as a child and I can tell you that it did NOT make me feel loved. It made me afraid. Angry. Helpless. And I am 39 years old and I still flinch if someone makes a sudden movement."

Me too (and similar age). I wonder if that feeling will always be there, I suspect so. I remember saying, protesting, as I grew older, "you have no right to hit me".

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 23:47:37

It is the same garlic. I just don't see how rattling on about how your parents smacking you made you x/y/z/(insert destructive behaviour which you deny personal responsibility for here ) really makes a point other than that person refusing to grow up. If you were hit, that is in the past. If you hate, that is now.

Being hateful used to be regarded as sinful but now we are all supposed to feel sorry for that person for hating as though it were an inevitability. It is a choice not a consequence. Saying you hate your parents because they smacked or that you are irretrievably damaged because of it is pretty much as awful as believing smacking is good imo. Hate is every bit as confining and compromising as violence, as is assuming any person's faults are directly caused by the actions of another. That is true even if you are talking about abuse but it is absolutely ludicrous and against much of what is known of lifespan development to suggest that having had x experience in childhood will inevitably lead to y. It just isn't so. We have millions of experiences in real terms every day. Life isn't a novel with defining moments that predict the ending. The story you tell yourself about your experience is only ever partially true as memory is fallible.

Where in all of this it makes sense to make out that any parent who has ever slapped a child is x and their relationship with their child is therefore y and this means z is beyond me. There is such a broad range of human learning and experience in life. If a three year old getting a slap for having nearly killed his baby brother leads to longstanding relationship and personality issues well then we are all doomed I think because technically any loss of rationality on a parent's part is then capable of writing the future irregardless of other factors. Powerful stuff this. Takes away free will. The possibility of redemption. I might as well give up now, he is doomed because of one snap decision made by his mother at three. I might as well have beaten him to a pulp as that one transgression has taught him all sorts and ruined him for life. If that's the case then the fact I have had psychiatric treatment and have a psych diagnosis as well surely means there is no future for him. I mean if a slap has that power, the PND I suffered is surely worse. Why even bother getting treated? It's all over now because I have crossed x line and that tells the whole story.

Do people really think in such absolutist terms? Pretty rigid. Pretty unhealthy.

CognitiveOverload Fri 19-Apr-13 23:48:03

How many parents have encountered the poo situation without smacking? I for one. Its stressful but there are alternative ways.

CognitiveOverload Fri 19-Apr-13 23:50:21

Working you are talking about one offs. Not people who use smacking as a form of discipline. One offs are regretful. Repeats are ignorance.

working9while5 Fri 19-Apr-13 23:53:29

How many people on this thread are talking about currently using smacking for discipline though? All I see are people saying 'well no matter what, I would NEVER because it is abuse and I could never do.that because I am a better parent than you and your children are fucked because of having you as a mother

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 19-Apr-13 23:56:47


Smacking rarely works as a deterrent,if it did why would you ever have to do it again.

Anything physical that's a crime against an adult should also be if done to a child.

When you raise your hand to anybody you are showing a lack of ability to deal with the matter decently.

Most regular smackers will at one time have their child either laugh at them or say/think hmm is that the best you can do.

It does damage most people,some directly or emotionally others by just teaching them than violence is the answer.

CognitiveOverload Sat 20-Apr-13 00:06:41

Yes there are better ways and yes I believe if a parent continues to use is highly likely to affect their children in a detrimental way.

IHideVegInRice Sat 20-Apr-13 00:10:30

I completely fail to see how smacking a child achieves any positive outcome whatsoever. If my children were, for example, throwing spoons at walls, I wouldn't want them to stop because they had been conditioned to expect a slap - it's just a deterrent and completely passes by any opportunity for learning & development. I would want them to understand, through more constructive discipline, that the behaviour is wrong, and why. (Or just not to misbehave at all.. :D ). I was hit regularly until I left home - and I was utterly terrified of my parents. In fact, I am still scared witless of my mother despite spending my working life in boardrooms grilling and being grilled by execs in frankly unacceptable pinstripe.
Parents might not be banned from smacking their children pre-non temporary reddening, but I believe that it is the emotional, rather than physical, damage that needs to be considered when a child is hit in this way.

Pan Sat 20-Apr-13 00:16:54

I'd still come back to the fact we, as a massively intelligent life form, don't need to revert to violence to educate our off spring.

We are not cats and dogs or cows. We are comparatively blessed to work stuff out. And hitting our little ones betrays our evolution.

GreyWhites Sat 20-Apr-13 00:25:36

Interesting. Believe me I've tried everything. Mostly calmness and distraction works, so giving him a toy or book to look at may ensure he stays still. Plus reinforcing and praising good behaviour. But mostly DS doesn't like to lie still for too long (more than 2 seconds) and so wants to get off the mat and do something else. When he is prevented from doing son he gets into a rage and just flails and kicks and struggles. No amount of calming talk will work as all he wants to do is just get up and run around.

I think context can be useful here.
I live in America, where it's okay to hit your child with an object. Some people who advocate smacking (called 'spanking') as a form of discipline also often hit their children with wooden spoons, 'switches' (bendy sticks), belts and things like that. Some beat their disabled children with belts. Some who follow an extreme method from a book called "To Train Up A Child" have beaten children to death.

Most people think it's entirely unacceptable, but the religious right nutbags a minority of people insist that they have the right to discipline and chastise their children as they see fit, and the government interferring is no less than tyrrany. So although the people beating their children with electric cables until they cry/die are thankfully rare, society as a whole protects their right to do that.

(trivia sidenote: it's why the USA hasn't ratified the UN convention of the rights of the child. Because they want to preserve the legality of parents hitting their children with objects in America.)

People did that in the UK until a few generations ago - or even our parents generation. But it's not legal to do it in the UK any more, and it was definitely out of fashion in the 80s, say, to hit your child with a stick or belt, or certainly to admit to it.

Our parents smacked, but most would admit now that it's not ideal parenting. Some of our generation of parenting smack, but few of us admit to it or defend it.

Most people think smacking is unacceptable.

I think the way it's going, in the UK, it will soon be almost everyone who thinks it's unacceptable.

I think this is a cultural shift, and it's a good thing.

garlicyoni Sat 20-Apr-13 00:37:42

Working, I appreciate the time you've put into your reply. What you have been saying betrays more about you than you perhaps realised. I pretty much understand your points but you're so far away from understanding mine that we'd need a long and complex discussion to even reach first base.
I'm taking the liberty of feeding a few of your remarks back to you:
"The story you tell yourself about your experience is only ever partially true as memory is fallible." - This is heart-rendingly true. The 'story' is more commonly one about a happy childhood, concealing a painful reality, than the reverse.
"I just don't see how rattling on about how your parents smacking you ... makes a point other than that person refusing to grow up." - Everybody grows up, becoming the adult their childhood taught them to be. The adult who recognises dysfunction in herself, acknowledges its source and embarks on a programme of change is courageous, not weak or immature.
"Technically any loss of rationality on a parent's part is then capable of writing the future irregardless of other factors. Powerful stuff this." - Technically, yes, it is capable of such. In some cases it does. Yes, it is powerful stuff.

Anyway, maybe we'll meet on another thread one day, where such matters are the topic. Have a nice weekend smile

ExcuseTypos Sat 20-Apr-13 00:45:21

I tried it once, as I was exasperated with dd1.

She responded by saying "Don't smack me, that's my bottom!" And she was right, I never did it again.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sat 20-Apr-13 00:50:05

So although the people beating their children with electric cables until they cry/die are thankfully rare, society as a whole protects their right to do that.

Not true. I agree that sadly there is greater acceptance for physical punishment in the US than in the UK, but every state has laws that define child abuse, and in the vast majority of cases, beating children with electric cables would be against the law; certainly killing them would be.

garlicyoni Sat 20-Apr-13 00:57:18

Well said, blackcurrants. Can't read those religious websites on how to "lovingly" paddle a child. Think they should be illegal, they get almost lascivious at some points.

Love your DD, Typos! You taught that girl wise values!

SconeRhymesWithGone Sat 20-Apr-13 01:06:56

I agree that the attitudes of many in the US religious right regarding physical punishment of children is deeply objectionable on many levels.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sat 20-Apr-13 01:09:01

Sorry, "are" deeply objectionable.

unlucky83 Sat 20-Apr-13 01:12:33

It progressively became more unacceptable for parents to smack children so say from the mid 90s most children weren't smacked ...
So these children will between 13-18 are our current teenagers - they obviously must be more respectful, polite and much less violent than previous generations and the situation must have been improving for last 10 years or so ...
So is that the case?
Not sure about society as a whole but IME behaviour in schools has got much worse...
(DD1s secondary - a good school, not a deprived area - majority of children from 'nice' backgrounds - I am shocked about what I get told about happens in class - and these are first years. I know we would never have got away with swearing at a teacher etc - I went to secondary school with children from very mixed backgrounds (about 50:50 deprived and posher areas and left in early 80s before corporal punishment was banned in school)
Not saying bring back the cane or even smacking is right but am questioning whether it causes children to be more aggressive...