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Grayling defending smacking

(1000 Posts)
seventiesgirl Sun 03-Feb-13 11:38:45

Never did him any harm apparently. The tory party are such a bunch of tossers. Whatever next?

Xenia Fri 08-Feb-13 14:45:23

There is another issue here. Even smacking got you the most perfect children is it not just fear? I am sure some of us have occasionally seen very spookily well behaved very small children and you sit looking at the scared furtive glance they give to their parents, silently and they know if they do anything wrong they will be physically punished. If parents who smack think that fear and the total obedience it engenders is a positive result then that thinking needs to be challenged.

What is much nicer is a family where people love, look out for each other and indeed for many of us we learn as much from our children they learn from us. We borrow them and certainly have no moral right to hit or smack them.

What is very refreshing is that every year there are fewer and fewer mumsnetters ni favour of smacking.

Of course smackers do it to hurt. If it doesn't hurt you don't engender the fear and you don't obtain the obedience. So we establish the only piont to it is to hurt.

Thus extend the academic argument to my piont above - if pain is the key to the compliance then morally there shoul.d be no different with say a pinch or an electric cattle rod product which causes no more pain than a smack. There is no moral difference surely if you are a pro smacker between a smack on the hand which causes pain at level X and using an electric device to cause the same pain level or indeed implement? Do the smackers agree with me? I am sure they will have to.

duchesse Fri 08-Feb-13 14:49:31

merry, yes! Stopping by the side of the road and refusing to budge is extremely effective! "We are not going anywhere until there is peace and quiet!". Gosh, I'd managed almost to forget that...

noddyholder Fri 08-Feb-13 14:56:31

If it is just about the instant shock value of a smack (which makes no sense to me but anyway) Why can't you achieve the same with clapping your hands loudly to focus attention.

AllDirections Fri 08-Feb-13 14:58:40

I don't know noddy I'll ask my DD

merrymouse Fri 08-Feb-13 15:12:43

I saw that you don't usually smack. I am not talking to you as somebody who I imagine smacks their child 10 times a day.

I am also not talking to you as the parent of quiet, easy children. My DS has various sensory difficulties that make him more of a challenge to parent. That is why I have done so much research into different parenting techniques - and I am suggesting these things because they work. They don't work like a magic wand, but they make life happier, calmer, more pleasant and more fun.

You do sound as though you aren't entirely happy with how things are working for you at the moment, and I am just trying to share with you another way of doing things.

Perhaps the most helpful thing I have found is to have the perspective that my child wants to do well and learn how to fit into the world, even when they are at their most annoying and irritating. I don't think the world will collapse if you smack your child a few times. However, there are so many better ways that don't involve the risk of escalating conflict or creating a bad example and enable you to teach your child how to behave in the way that, fundamentally, they want to behave.

StoicButStressed Fri 08-Feb-13 15:16:18

Am having a very gallows humour laugh at fact I used word 'vigil' - makes me sound like a nun or something (am def not nun...). Just couldn't think of another word describe it, but 'vigil' does sound like am praying at knees of some statue or something at Lourdes... (again, def not doing that either..).

larrygrylls Fri 08-Feb-13 15:28:32


I think that you have a very rational perspective on the subject.

Do you really believe that children always want to do well and learn? I am afraid that I am not convinced. I don't think children are angels any more than adults are. Sometimes they are wonderful but sometimes not. I love my children and would do anything for them but I recognise certain behaviours in them that I really don't like. I agree that children are "learning" to fit in to the world but I think that means they try out all sorts of different strategies including selfish and violent ones. And then they persist with the ones that get them the best outcomes. Surely, bringing up a child consists of trying to get the good behaviours to persist and the bad behaviours to be dropped? And this cannot just be done via "positive" methods.

I do try positive parenting techniques and I love those days when you just have fun all day with your children and they behave wonderfully. Discipline of any sort is no fun but I think it is part of a parent's job to do it. I think parents who make friends of their children (and this is not addressed to anyone in particular) are making a grave error. Children don't want mates, they want parents. And if bringing up children is all about modelling behaviour, surely they should see their parents upset and angry sometimes? Always showing a neutral face to one's children seems very unnatural and is one of those things that I really struggle to accept is beneficial. How on earth does it prepare them for life?

I also observe at a population level that the modern generation brought up when discipline of most kinds is a dirty word is the generation of random violence, hook ups instead of relationships, falling educational standards (despite our sham exam results) etc. I KNOW there are many many factors at play here but if I were a scientist doing a population study on education/parenting today versus in our parent's generation, I am not sure we would actually come out very well.

larrygrylls Fri 08-Feb-13 15:51:02


The below was my post re nurseries:

"And, as for leaving a one year old in a nursery from 8-6, as many parents now do, I find this equally wrong. It is unnatural and young children find the environment stressful. Some people have to do it and I appreciate that. It does not make it any better from the baby's/young child's perspective though.

Anyone who thinks either of the two above are absolutely fine but are against smacking per se are completely hypocritical or delusional. If there is proper scientific evidence against any practices, it is against the above two, not against smacking.

But how about we accept that many decent parents make their own decisions for their children which they feel are right for them and reserve our howls of "abuse" for the truly abusive and neglectful parents of which, sadly, there are many."

I did hesitate to post it and totally appreciate people in your position. I think my 3rd paragraph sums up my position on the subject. I am sure your DS2 has not been damaged by his time in daycare and he sounds like a wonderful boy. To be honest, I think that if children are fundamentally cared for, they are, in the main, far more resilient than we would give them credit for.

And, if you read "Freakanomics" all the agonised talk about parenting is a bit meaningless and the only factor which is strongly correlated to good outcomes is the amount of books in the house, not even whether they are read.

AllDirections Fri 08-Feb-13 15:52:50

Mmm, well we had a situation (started by DD3's behaviour) yesterday morning that ended up with me crying. Last night she asked me why I cried (I rarely cry so she probably can't remember me ever doing it) which is unusual in itself because she will NEVER talk about an incident after it happens. I told her it was because I was upset and it turns out that she doesn't recognise that I'm upset unless I cry. So she's obviously not recognising tone of voice or body language or the words I'm using to describe why I'm not happy. I'm not sure what to do with this information but I'm aware that I need to change how I deal with things, I just don't know how. Maybe I need some help from somewhere.

larrygrylls Fri 08-Feb-13 15:57:09


Isn't not recognising tone a sign of being on the Asperger's spectrum? Has your daughter been tested? I am being a (poor) amateur psychologist here and I am sure others can advise you better.

merrymouse Fri 08-Feb-13 16:31:38

larry, the reason I believe children want to fit in is that 1000's of years of evolution have driven us to form societies and create rules and build families. Children can't 'fit in' if their world is chaotic and they do need guidance, but I don't think any child wants to be in charge of their parents or wants to randomly hurt other people, because basically, its a bit rubbish. Children who can learn the rules of their society (whatever they may be) do better and feel better.

I think children are sometimes selfish and violent. Adults are also sometimes selfish and violent. However, those who can make good use of their pre-frontal cortex's and not be controlled by their selfish and violent basic instincts (Lizard Brain as some people call it) tend to do better. Adults have the big advantage of having a fully developed pre-frontal cortex. Children's brains, whatever behaviour method you use will develop at a pre-destined rate and sometimes their behaviour isn't deliberately bad, it's just immature.

So, you make your life easier by teaching your children instinctive positive ways to act. (When we come home from school we always do x,y then z. if a, b or c happens go and do f,g or h, let's practice) Very importantly you listen to them and observe what precedes bad behaviour. You teach them to problem solve or work out a way to calm down when they are feeling over heated. You create an environment where they feel valued and are receptive to what you say. (I know we all want to do this, but I have to admit that even in adult relationships it can be hard).

I don't advocate only positive methods, and I am trying to drop my woolly double speak of threatening my children with 'consequences' when I actually mean punishment. Sometimes the world is a bit tough and they can cope when things don't go their way. 'Coping' may look like having a bit of a strop, and then getting on with life, not saying "thank you mummy for turning the car round, I agree our behaviour is not up to scratch and we need to simmer down".

However, I see this as them publicly playing out their emotions, not 'being wilful'. (OK, in my calmer moments I think this way. Sometimes I have to count to 10. Or more.)

I don't think we basically disagree much. I just think you could drop the smacking.

(And I don't think society is more randomly violent. We have not had any of our leader's heads on spikes in London for 100's of years).

merrymouse Fri 08-Feb-13 18:03:44

all, you need to find methods that resonate with you, but you might like a book called 'divas and dictators'.

mathanxiety Sat 09-Feb-13 01:40:24

Would any smackers here allow a nanny or au pair or babysitter to smack their children? Would they send a child to a nursery where smacking was the preferred method of 'disciplining' children?

Larry -- do you not think that a young child who lives in a home where his parents smack hard enough to hurt might find the environment stressful?

'Conclusions: When parents usecorporal punishment to reduce ASB, the long-term effect tends to be the opposite.The findings suggest that if parents replace corporal punishment by nonviolent modes of discipline, it could reduce the risk of ASB among children and reduce the level of violence in American society.'

LG This is the problem of discussing smacking with people who have been physically abused. They don't get it. [huh?] What you are describing above is abuse, not a smack. When I smack my son on the back of the hand, there is no mark at all [so not abuse -- are you serious? In order to be classed as abuse there must be a mark?] and it stings for a few seconds and is then forgotten. You are talking about tissue damage [???]. They are really not the same thing.

Two points about that particular gem, Larry:
(1) You know how it hurts? You yourself have been smacked on the back of your hand? Therefore you have been abused, Larry, because it hurts a lot. If you don't in fact know how it hurts then how are you so confident that it stings for a few seconds and then hurts no more?

(2) So you want people who have walked the walk to post (and therefore exclude Xenia) but someone who has been slapped on the back of her hand by a nun can't comment on how much that hurts? And if you are going to tell us how it feels to have the back of your hand smacked (see above) then you are excluding yourself from the discussion too...

You are deliberately hurting your own children, an approach to 'discipline' which by your own admission isn't working because your child apparently considers the prospect of chocolate tomorrow more important than a smack today, has hurt his brother persistently and by your description with malice aforethought, and is now 'growing out of' his 'need' for smacking and getting to the point where he can actually understand consequences. One can only infer that you enjoy hurting them and that is the only reason you do it. Either that or you have a deep seated fear of losing control.

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Sat 09-Feb-13 06:28:30

I don't get why you are so against talking or waiting Alldirections?

It appears to me you hit because it is quicker, which is not a positive reason for hitting, just your fear of not getting compliance.

merrymouse Sat 09-Feb-13 07:20:35

I think its important to note that nobody on this thread (as far as I have seen) has claimed that regularly smacking a child is a good idea. Some people feel that it is very occasionally a good idea. Some people have smacked in the past but no longer smack. Some people feel they shouldn't smack, but are at a loss to know how to handle a child in a difficult situation.

exoticfruits Sat 09-Feb-13 07:33:33

I think that any parent would be up in arms if a childminder/
Nursery/ school smacked their child- so much so that it might even make the newspapers. I think that there would be a huge fuss if granny, auntie or friend smacked your child. It is only OK if you hit your child as part of 'a loving relationship' hmm ( a funny part if loving- to smack!)
It is an ownership thing as in my child I can smack her. Anyone else who has the child to look after, or even to stay, is expected to manage behaviour without hitting but the parent is allowed to take the easy way and smack. Does no one think this is odd? A child does as it is told at home because they know they will be smacked if they don't and yet they go and stay with MIL and they have to find alternatives? If they are expected to find them why can't mother?
I bet you that not one single pro smacker is pro anyone else hitting their child. The only person who might possibly get away with it is their own mother- MIL certainly wouldn't!
Either it is right to hit a child or it isn't- it is bizarre to say it is wrong except for the parent because no one loves them the way I do!!

exoticfruits Sat 09-Feb-13 07:35:45

They are at a loss to know how to handle the situation and yet they expect anyone else who looks after their child to find a way! If everyone else can do it - so can the parent.

Xenia Sat 09-Feb-13 08:12:05

The knitting gritty of it is the pain. If there is no pain then it is an utter waste of space and it would have no value. So the pro smackers are saying causing sudden pain is in the child's best interests. Most of us do not agree. If that is so then how would a pro smacker distinguish between causing the pain through say sticking in a needle or some other method?

Many pro smackers are more than happy if others do it and pick schools such as those within their fundamentalist religion which sets smacking down as God's way in many countries and in earlier times in the UK. It is in my life time that the UK decided to make it illegal to smack in schools. That message has not got through everywhere, to every mosque etc yet.

merrymouse Sat 09-Feb-13 08:12:33


Teachers often can't handle children. Difficult children in reception and KS1 get sent home. Many people don't smack their children physically but 'smack' their children verbally.

I don't think it is easy. There is more to disciplining (as in teaching how to behave) than dropping smacking from your repertoire.

When I was a child good parents smacked. Now I have children bad parents smack. But what else has changed? Teachers still teach the same number of children in the same sized classes. 30 years ago you could dispatch difficult children to the headmaster's office for the slipper and feel no further responsibility. (Who cares if they learned to read? plenty of respectable jobs didn't require much reading). Now teachers have far greater responsibility, but have to get 30 children through this test and that test at a certain space with very little lee way for those children who find the school environment difficult.

If you are a parent, how do you learn what to do instead? Watch Jo Frost?
I don't think so.

I think smacking is at best pointless and at worst damaging. However, I have learnt alternative methods that work by following leads from blogs or forums and following 'other people bought' leads on Amazon. None of the information was just out there.

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 09:03:57

Merry, I really like your posts.

I don't think anyone is 'prosmacking' really. I do agree that most of us have a very limited repertoire of behavioural management for when situations arise that are truly dangerous.

I do all the descriptive malarkey (I think of it as errorless learning) and my 3 year old is actually pretty well behaved... but I can totally understand the urge to smack in two situations: in one where a child has suddenly and unexpectedly done something that endangered their life e.g. running out into the road or where they have hurt a small baby by hitting and you are showing them it hurts.

Again, I'm not condoning, agreeing with or advocating these.. I just understand it. I think the point about the lizard brain really applies here. In situations of high stress sometimes people quite literally lose their reason and smacking e.g. a child who has run into the road may just be a throwback to a more primitive self, like animals biting their young to prevent them from doing certain things. I think it is interesting that most people who report smacking but who don't want to smack have smacked in these situations only. My three year old has never run out into the road but I can imagine the panic of a near miss. I suppose you would expect this wouldn't happen with a professional both because they would have procedures in place due to training and not have that instinctive reaction to a child that was not their own.

Math, can you just drop it now? I was slapped by the nuns and also by my mother on the back of the hand and there was no comparison. It doesn't always hurt the way you describe and your obsession with 'proving' larrygrylls is an abuser is really not furthering the discussion.

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 09:21:19

Incidentally wrt the fact kids sometimes are cruel/wilful/whatever, we talk about it in this house as 'sometimes we are angry/sad/mean/jealous, sometimes we are not' e.g. after an event where ds has been violent etc... and universalise it e.g. we talk about these feelings that everyone has and then say 'but it's not okay to hit' etc, we also have a bit of a thing about angry monsters and lion roars... when your angry monster comes out, you go to the thinking corner until it goes away and then we draw it and put it in the bin. The other day, I ROARED at him to stop shaking his baby brother's high chair violently and took him to the corner. Afterwards, we talked about my lion roar.. which comes out when I am scared someone will get hurt.. I said I bet it was scary and I am sorry it scared you, I was scared too etc... and if I was angry but where it was not as reasonable as this we would joke about how my angry monster came out and we would draw him and send him away. Earlier this week, when I was feeding ds 2 and he wanted me to do some spraying of countertops with him I heard him saying under his breath jealous monster, jealous monster go away. This sort of self talk to control his own behaviour is exactly what I am aiming for in the long term.

Bonsoir Sat 09-Feb-13 09:55:09

There are far worse forms of emotional and psychological abuse than the occasional smack. If one is, in general, a moderate, kind, loving and rational parent (and partner), a very occasional violent outburst shocks one's family into realising that they have gone over the limits of one's tolerance. Personally, I think it is good to keep smacking (and shouting) up one's sleeve for the odd occasion smile.

exoticfruits Sat 09-Feb-13 10:07:39

I wish that someone would explain why it is OK for you to smack your child but wrong for someone else to smack them.

noddyholder Sat 09-Feb-13 10:19:53

Bonsoir you think the occasional smack from a partner is ok too?

noddyholder Sat 09-Feb-13 10:20:49

Is there any evidence that those of us who don't smack have children who have more road accidents/electric shocks/burnt hands?

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