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Parenting

Smacking...Anyone else changed their mind.

48 replies

breeze · 16/03/2003 11:17

I would just like to know wether people have changed their mind on smacking.

My ds is 3.33, I always used to smack his as a last resort, but found that I was smacking him more often (and if I am honest, some times it was out of pure frustration). It would stop him doing what he was doing for a while and then he continuted doing it again later.

I got to the stage last week when I decided that in my case smacking wasn't working. (I hit him for doing something and he started laughing). I realised that if I continued doing this then I would have to hit him harder, which I didn't want to do. I had a chat with DH and told him that for the moment under no circumstances if he to hit ds. My ds has a very good knowledge of understanding and I actually sat him down and told him that mummy and daddy were not going to smack him anymore, if he was naughty he was going to have to sit on the stairs and if he continued he would be going up to his room. I re-started my sticker charts for good behaviour.

In the past few days it is like I have a different son, (to him I guess its the same), he has been more loving, I have had more kisses and cuddles then ever, he wants to do more things with me, (he even told me he wanted to help pack his toys away and I didn't have to give him a sticker). He is still a little naughty at times (what 3 yr old isn't), but the house no longer seems like a war zone at times and he doesn't shout nearly as much.

I know it is still early days, but long may it continue. I will never say that I will never smack him, but certainly not over trivial things when sending him to his room is more effective.

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Clarinet60 · 16/03/2003 12:35

This is a very good example of why, IMO, smacking rarely works for long. They just get used to it. I've always been against smacking, but smacked DS1 once or twice in temper. The results were a much worse behaved child who obviously thought I'd done something very wrong and couldn't understand why. Long may it continue, breeze.

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Wills · 16/03/2003 18:08

Hi Breeze,

I'm not against smacking but so far have not found a reason to smack my dd (just 3) yet. I don't think of it as a form of discipline but would use it more for shock purposes if she did something terrible (such as run across the road etc). What I do regret is that I don't think we reinforce good behaviour by rewarding it and I really ought to consider more the star chart approach. Do you feel the star chart works?

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KMG · 16/03/2003 19:03

Wills, YES, yes, yes, star charts really work - even for children younger than yours. Choose something very specific, quite small - whatever your current 'problem' ... so eat a meal without getting down from your chair, or brush your teeth nicely without complaining in the morning, or walk home from nursery well, ... or whatever. Remind them of it, before the issue arises, and then give them a sticker when they do it.

You have to keep remembering it, so don't make it too complex, and don't make it last too long - 2, 3, or 4 days is probably plenty at this age. And they also don't need a reward at all at this age either - it is just thrilling for them (and you) to see on the wall a chart that clearly shows how good they have been!

We've been using sticker charts with great success since ds1 was just 2, and he still loves them. (Does get rewards for them now though!)

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Tinker · 16/03/2003 19:26

Oh, I thought this was going to be about people who have changed their minds to be in FAVOUR of smacking!!!! I started off as convinced I would never smack, have done so, much less so as daughter has got older BUT, have got over the idea that it has done any lasting damage. Certainly don't beat myself up (unfortunate phrase) about it any more.

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Lindy · 16/03/2003 21:24

LOL Tinker!!

I have to own up to certainly not being one of the 'anti-smacking' brigade but am very interested in Breeze's comments - as smacking does not seem to make any difference at all to my DS's behaviour - nor does anything else I have tried, thanks to mumsnet suggestions, to be honest - he loves 'time out' & will happily stay on his own with no worries about missing us; if I take away a favourite toy he will just look for something else. I am not sure if a star chart would work, he's 2, but I think I will give it a try.

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Holly02 · 16/03/2003 22:35

Breeze I also find that smacking doesn't work. The times I have done it, I've felt terrible about it but I notice that it has little effect on ds. I find that the only effective way of disciplining him is to send him to his room. He hates it and most of the time I only have to threaten to do it, to make him change his behaviour. Of course I have to carry it through sometimes, but he is very contrite afterwards so at least I know the message is getting through.

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Demented · 16/03/2003 23:49

Have to admit I thought the same as Tinker about this thread. I started off saying I wouldn't smack my child, then ended up smacking him, although I would agree it doesn't seem to make much difference. He will still occasionally get a smack but I generally try the other methods first. I have found that as he gets older methods such as reasoning, time-out, taking toys away and star charts have worked better, although he is still a wee beggar and knows how to 'work' the star chart, saying he won't do such and such now but he will get ready for bed when asked and still get a star for that, it's trying to keep one step ahead that is the difficult bit!

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bloss · 17/03/2003 02:11

Message withdrawn

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breeze · 17/03/2003 08:07

Interesting comments to read. I admit I got myself in situation where I would say, do that again and I will smack you, and he would do it and I would carry out my threat. Sometimes it was for something really silly and I smacking him quite a lot (5/6 rimes a day). I am sure that now and again I will have to smack him, but not for doing something silly, something dangerous or something. I have seen a complete turnaround in him, he used to smack his teddies and tell them off for being naughty, now he tells them they have to go to their room.

He loves the star chart and he has 2 on the go.
He has to fill in a line of stars (15) to get a small gift (99p car or something), then when he fills in a while page of them (60) he gets a bigger pressie, at the moment it is Skip from Bob the builder. I actually have it on top of a cabinet and he can see it, he knows what he has to do to get it, and has never asked if he could have it now.

When he is naughty he has to go and sit on the stairs, sometimes even 5 seconds does the trick and he says sorry. others longer, if he does it again or gets off the step he has to go to his room. I found this method very effective especially as later on I sit him down and explain why I did it.

Just wanted to tell fellow mumsnetter incase the find themselves in a similar situation and can reverse it.

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Ghosty · 17/03/2003 09:49

Breeze ... I am with you here. We have found that smacking has very little effect and I tried hard to find other alternatives. My DS goes to his room until he is 'ready' to a) behave, b) do what he is told, c) share his toys, or any other thing that is the issue of the moment. We started off about 6 months ago and initially he had to go to his room about 6 times a day (and it was a struggle to keep him there ) but now he goes to his room about once every couple of days.
Star charts do work ... we have 2 on the go and he knows that when he has 10 stickers he can have a kite.
He is 3.3 by the way!
I have never been anti smacking (I am one of those dreadful people that says 'I was smacked as a child and it didn't do me any harm'!) but I learned that with my DS it just made me feel bad and did nothing to improve his behaviour ... he also started smacking me when he was cross with me ! All he was doing was associating being cross with smacking.
I now encourage him to think about what he has done ... and face the consequences, for example a thrown toy gets confiscated etc ...

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anto · 17/03/2003 12:35

This is a really interesting thread. Breeze, I've also decided not to smack any more. My daughter had her first smack about a month or six weeks ago. She is 2.5yr and I had deliberately never smacked or shouted before then as I knew that once you start, these tactics soon lose their effectiveness. Also, how can you tell your child off for hitting others when you hit them?

I smacked dd for the first time when she ran away from me in the park, ran all the way to the gate and then started running down a busy road. I am heavily pregnant and was running after her pushing a buggy, carrying a doll's buggy, and generally screaming her name like a madwoman as I saw her approaching the fast cars and laughing like it was all a good joke. We live on the other side of the busy road and I was terrified she would run across the road. Luckily a traffic warden saw what was going on and grabbed her. When I caught up with her I was so angry and upset and scared that I gave her a huge smack on her bum and burst into tears. I don't think the smack hurt her b/c she was all muffled up in a puffa jacket, nappy, jeans etc, but she was SO SHOCKED that she immediately knew she had done something totally unacceptable. I then marched her home, me sobbing silently and her bawling her head off. We have had no repeat performances of playing up in the street and this is one situation in which I feel a smack is totally justified and works well as an immediate and effective punishment.

However, I then found that once I'd given her one smack, by the end of the week she'd had two more...it was the broken window effect, I guess. First I smacked her bare bum for repeatedly kicking me in the (pregnant) stomach, despite my warnings. I felt awful as the smack came out harder than intended and she got a red mark on her bottom. And then I smacked her hand, again after giving her a few warnings, and I can't even remember what that was for. And then I realized that if I carried on I'd end up smacking her every day and then I'd have nowhere to go when she did do something really terrible, so I've totally stopped. Am trying time outs instead and after reading this thread will also try a star chart to reward good behaviour.

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anto · 17/03/2003 12:41

This is a really interesting thread. Breeze, I've also decided not to smack any more. My daughter had her first smack about a month or six weeks ago. She is 2.5yr and I had deliberately never smacked or shouted before then as I knew that once you start, these tactics soon lose their effectiveness. Also, how can you tell your child off for hitting others when you hit them?

I smacked dd for the first time when she ran away from me in the park, ran all the way to the gate and then started running down a busy road. I am heavily pregnant and was running after her pushing a buggy, carrying a doll's buggy, and generally screaming her name like a madwoman as I saw her approaching the fast cars and laughing like it was all a good joke. We live on the other side of the busy road and I was terrified she would run across the road. Luckily a traffic warden saw what was going on and grabbed her. When I caught up with her I was so angry and upset and scared that I gave her a huge smack on her bum and burst into tears. I don't think the smack hurt her b/c she was all muffled up in a puffa jacket, nappy, jeans etc, but she was SO SHOCKED that she immediately knew she had done something totally unacceptable. I then marched her home, me sobbing silently and her bawling her head off. We have had no repeat performances of playing up in the street and this is one situation in which I feel a smack is totally justified and works well as an immediate and effective punishment.

However, I then found that once I'd given her one smack, by the end of the week she'd had two more...it was the broken window effect, I guess. First I smacked her bare bum for repeatedly kicking me in the (pregnant) stomach, despite my warnings. I felt awful as the smack came out harder than intended and she got a red mark on her bottom. And then I smacked her hand, again after giving her a few warnings, and I can't even remember what that was for. And then I realized that if I carried on I'd end up smacking her every day and then I'd have nowhere to go when she did do something really terrible, so I've totally stopped. Am trying time outs instead and after reading this thread will also try a star chart to reward good behaviour.

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Clarinet60 · 17/03/2003 13:04

Snap breeze. I found that the once or twice I did smack just made him smack me back!
He still smacks me when he's cross with me (super-cross), so I guess I've set up that association for life. I think that by never smacking now I've won back his respect. I'm often aware of him watching me to see how I handle a tense stand-off, and I'm sure he's learning from my behaviour. It sounds preachy, but it really is up to us as adults not to lose our tempers just because their's have got out of control. Hard when they run away when you're pregnant though. DS1 once did this to me in Sainsbury's. I was heavily prenant and couldn't run after him, even though there was a main road right outside, he was like a streak of lightening. Luckily, I lumbered after him and met him coming back. He's never done it since, but they know when you're incapacitated.

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tigermoth · 17/03/2003 13:24

quick aside here - I used to give the odd smack to my oldest son when he was younger. Not that effective as an ultimate discpline control, so like others here I stopped. And, perhaps because my ds didn't really seem to give a monkey's about it, it doesn't seem to have done any lasting damage.

HOWEVER, I cannot bring myself to smack my youngest ds (3.5 years) for another reason entirely. I have seen his reaction when dh has smacked him very lightly (just once or twice when he has been extra naughty and ignored warnings). My son is totally shocked and outraged. He will say with great horror to me " daddy SMACKED me" cry buckets etc etc. He takes it as a great affront and it seems to affect him deeply. For this reason I daren't smack him,(I have done it just the once, I think) as in his case I fear the damage caused could be severe, even if the shock of a smack is has more effect on his behaviour.

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Clarinet60 · 17/03/2003 15:08

Yes tigermoth, outrage is the word we're after. It's as if you've done something totally bad and against the law, something they thought people weren't supposed to do. I remmeber once being smacked as a young teenager and thinking what an absolute Tw*t the smacker was, rather than being regretful about whatever I had done.

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pupuce · 17/03/2003 22:20

I would love star charts to work for my 3.3yo but he doesn't give a toss.... I tried last month and it took him AGES to get 5 stars (we removed a star when he was bad) and he could not care less ! Once he got his 5, I bought him his small present but he didn't seem to care... maybe I've got it all wrong ????

I have to say he is becoming very easy... we had a hard time* between 32 and 36 months but now he is generally not a problem - on the odd occasion we have to do time out.

  • kicked his baby sister or fought with her, shouted,...
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bloss · 17/03/2003 23:46

Message withdrawn

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breeze · 18/03/2003 08:05

Pupuce, I am sure I read somewhere that it is not a good idea to take stars away from then. Not sure on which thread though and not sure why, because that was what I was doing at first. Can anyone tell us why that it?. Thanks

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Rkayne · 18/03/2003 09:43

I've always been very against smacking and yet, as my toddler approaches the 'terrible twos' I've found myself thinking about it, even seriously considering it more often lately. There are most definitely times where I've thought to myself I would quite like to give her a good smack on the bottom. But then I realize that those moments only come when I'm already worked up and having a bad day it would be purely out of my own frustration and anger, which would be really wrong. When I'm calm to start with I usually find pretty effective ways to deal with her bad behaviour. So as tempted as I've been at times, her increasing 'independence' and naughiness has only made feel more strongly that smacking is a very bad idea.

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sis · 18/03/2003 11:25

Well, before ds was born, I did not want to become a mother who had smacked her child as a form of punishment but thought that I may well do so at some stage. I thought the likely age for smacking would be at about 8 months when he started to become mobile but was unlikely to understand what we said - so I may have to smack him on the back of the hand if he repeatedly tried to do something dangerous.

However, in reality, I have found that I have not smacked ds (he is 4.5yrs old). I have shouted at him and previous mumsnet threads on smacking vs shouting have made me questiion this approach. So, when I have found myself shouting at him to do/stop doing something for a few days in a row, I have consciously decided to take a calmer approach (time out for me and/or ds; speaking very clearly but not shouting etc) and it seems to have worked - like all 4yr olds, he is by no means a well behaved child at all times, but his overall behaviour is acceptable for us.

In answer to your question Breeze, yes I have changed my mind about smacking and also about shouting!

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Noisy · 18/03/2003 12:57

Bloss

Your are not alone...We smack our DS on the hand or bum, VERY OCCASIONALLY and ONLY when we feel it is really needed.

Negotiation and reasoning works for us 98% of the time. Sometimes we find a smack is a VERY effective tactic to use and it really gets the message accross.

Hey, each to their own. What works for one might not work for another.

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breeze · 18/03/2003 14:21

Well I am very proud of myself. Just took DS to the park and then to the shop. I told him as he was good he could have a freddo (choc frog), I got it of the shelf when he obviously wanted to and then for no other reason, totally went into one screaming, he then hit me, I calmly put the frog back on the shelf and queued up (ds still screaming), I can not believe how calm I was, I repeated why he wasn't having it and paid for my other purchases and left. I was not even embarrassed, I cant believe it, normally I would have got the chocolate anyway for a quiet life and gone out all red-faced. I was getting some funny looks, but that was because my ds was screaming "I want to eat my frog".

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griffy · 18/03/2003 16:36

I wish DH would change his mind about this.

We disagree and it leads to arguments between us quite often. DH is of the view that smacking is necessary and that children will "walk all over you" if you don't.

I was smacked as a child, and it just made me loathe my parents. It didn't make me feel that I'd done anything wrong - but that THEY had! Also I don't see how, with a clear conscience I can condemn him hitting anyone if I find it necessary myself. ...All the usual sensitivities!

We seem entirely entrenched in our positions now. I pretty certain I won't change MY mind!

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griffy · 18/03/2003 16:37

Oh - and well done Breeze!

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breeze · 18/03/2003 17:36

Also would like to add that DH is still shouting at DS (but is trying to), and DS is acting differently to us both. He is playing his dad up more, but at least DH is seeing this and is trying to follow my lead.

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