Firstly, I just want to say if you do smack/spank your children and you’re happy with how you’re choosing to discipline your children; honestly, you know your own children better than I do. I’m just a person on the internet. I can only share my own experience and the information that I’ve come across that resonates with me.
My intention isn’t to make anyone feel bad about what they’re doing, or to tell anyone that what they’re doing is wrong.
However, if you’ve decided you don’t want to smack your children and you’re looking for alternative strategies and positive discipline, or you are just interested in reading another perspective, then I genuinely hope that I can provide some ideas and information that might be helpful for you and your family.
Also, I don’t always get it right! I don’t always know what I’m doing! I also sometimes slip up, and I shout or put my youngest in time out because I get to the end of my tether. I guess I should say I try to use positive discipline as much as I can.
So, Why don’t I smack my children?
The biggest reason for me is the simplest – I wasn’t smacked as a child. It wasn’t something I was brought up with. My brother and I were disciplined, though most of our discipline revolved around taking responsibility for our actions.
If we broke something, we had to pay for it to be fixed. If we misused certain freedoms, we were given restrictions. If we upset someone, we had to somehow make amends and so on.
As an adult I studied teaching and then worked in childcare, which means I’ve had the opportunity to learn how to discipline and manage groups of children, without smacking, before I even became a parent.
So, smacking just hasn’t been a part of my life, it’s not in my “tool box” and as a result I never really considered it an option with my own children.
Does smacking work?
I recently read this infographic and I understand it’s based on American figures, but it says that 85% of parents who spank/smack their children would rather not if they had an alternative method of discipline which they believed in.
That is a big part of what motivated me to write this; because there are effective alternative ways to discipline children that don’t involve physical punishment.
One of the problem with smacking is there is a lot of research that suggests that smacking/spanking doesn’t actually work.
Smacking might result in immediate compliance, but over time it may not effective and there is a risk of long term harm. A Huffington Post article entitled “What Science Says About Using Physical Force To Punish a Child” contains many links to various studies showing the ineffectiveness and potential harm of physical punishments.
Respecting Authority and Obeying the Law
From the many discussions I’ve engaged in about whether or not smacking is an appropriate form of discipline, this appears to be one of the biggest concerns for parents who choose to smack their children have; the idea that not smacking ultimately leads to raising children to be adults who do not respect authority or obey the law.
This fear is often directed towards parents who don’t smack with statements along the lines of “Good luck when your child is in jail (because they weren’t smacked).” or referring to children who are not smacked as “disrespectful” “bratty” or “The problem with kids these days”.
As I said, I wasn’t smacked, but I was raised to be an good person. I don’t steal, deal drugs and murder people, but that’s not because I want to avoid going to jail. I don’t do these things, because it’s the wrong thing to do and I was raised to do the right thing whether or not there is a threat of punishment.
And that is ideally what I want for my own children.
I want my children to base their choices on what is moral or ethical, not because they don’t want to get into trouble.
What can you do instead?
Below is a list of various alternative approaches to smacking that you might want to consider and see how it fits into your family – and remember if this is going to be a change for you and your family that change takes time and also not to be too hard on yourself if you have trouble with it as well.
- Spanking Alternatives: Experts’ 8 Top Tips For Disciplining Toddlers – By Huffington Post
- If Gentle Discipline Isn’t Working This Might Be The Reason – By Janet Lansbury
- Old School Discipline is Irrelevant :What we do instead – By KateSurfs
- What Is Gentle Discipline? – By the La Leche League
- 9 Things To Do Instead Of Spanking – By Positive Parenting
- Discipline and Behaviour page on Ask Dr Sears has 20 links to pages with strategies for positive discipline and non-smacking approaches.
I also recommend reading the following books:
- Children are People Too by Dr Louise Porter (I found some of the ideas in this book a little challenging, but with anything you take what works for you and leave what doesn’t!)
- Toddler Tactics by Pinky Mckay
- The No-Cry Discipline Solution – By Elizabeth Pantley (Who also wrote the wonderful The No-Cry Sleep Solution)
How do you discipline your children? What works/doesn’t work for you?