To smack or not to smack?

To smack or not to smack?

A question many parent asked. . . 

What are your views on this topic? 

I have read a number of blogs that support smacking plus the comments left by readers — it is certainly a topic that can polarise a room with very strong views for and against.  It can also divide parents and cause many arguments. It is one of those topic that should be fully discussed before having children and a decision made whether to smack or not. It saves a lot of pain in the end. 

As to my position — I am not a supporter of smacking babies for any reason and would never recommend it. However I know there are many supporters of Michael and Debi Pearl (and their book "To train up a child) who strongly  believe in smacking (switching) babies of only a few months old on their bare skin or pulling hair to cause pain to stop a particular behaviour to obtain complete obedience.  They also have, what I consider, very harsh views on babies crying at night which I would never do or suggest to anyone. There is a fine line that can be easily crossed when it comes to "demanding obediences" of a baby especially when angry or tired and its better to walk away that start the habit of smacking babies. 

However, I did smack my children when they were older but if I was a parent all over again, I think I would have done things differently and smacked far less than I did. However, in saying this, I didn't always have great success with some of the alternative techniques but with patiences (and quiet determination) one does get there in the end!
* providing consequences
* withdrawal of privileges
* exclusion (time out) or quiet time
* setting and enforcing boundaries
* saying “no” firmly but avoiding hostility.

It is very difficult being a parent today, especially with so much focus placed on parents by other parents who are very quick to give advice (they always have a better method that works wonders) and quick to find fault in what you do. There are many many child development books on the market and endless websites that parents can gather advice, unfortunately they often contradict each other and just cause confusion. 

Every adult needs to understand what "no" means or how to obey the laws of the land and we learn these things as children. However, we are never going to create perfect children and we should never smack in an attempt to create perfect children. Parents need to be realistic when "demanding obediences", we don't want to loose our child's unique personality (by smacking it out of them) and we should only discipline for the right reasons. Providing firm decisive discipline is vital to the well-being of a child, it provides guidance and wisdom that the child will need later in life. 

A child must always know that they are dearly loved by their parents and any punishment is done because you love them so much, just as Jesus disciplines us because He loves us so much. 

The bible teaches that physical discipline is appropriate and necessary at times BUT knowing what is the right amount of discipline is important and only smacking at the very last resort. However, there is a fear among many parents that smacking their children can lead them to be reported to the government for child abuse.  One needs to obey the laws of the country and in those countries where corporal punishment is banned (such as Sweden) or frowned upon, parents do need to obey the law and find other methods of discipline. Currently, 194 countries officially view spanking as wrong, only 43 countries have made hitting children illegal. 

Being a parent is very hard work and only through pray and the encouragement from others can parents get to the other end in one piece.

Hug your children often, cuddle them, laugh with them, talk to them, listen to them. Keep them warm and snug, feed them well and healthy. Read lots of books together, go for walks, sing in the car, be silly, play games . . . just make sure they know you love them HEAPS. Smacking should never be done to gain "complete and utter obedience" you are not creating robots. As far as I am concerned, it should only be used as the very last resort when all else has failed.


Comments

  1. I am from Sweden, and have two daughters with my husband, 4 and 9 years old. I am also a kindergarten assistant since 1994. I do not believe in hitting a child, i can understand the frustration, but hitting a baby, and it being adviced in a book...i am shocked. I don't hit my girls and they are well behaved and polite to other adults. Of course I do correct them, all the time, it is a full time job, but not hitting or yelling. My husband is from a latin american country and was beaten as a child, it has affected his relation with his parents.

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    1. Sweden has had the anti-smacking laws the longest and its interesting because you also have one of the lowest crime rates and when my Swedish friend went to visit 18 months ago she noted how polite Swedish drivers were and that reflected in driving accidents (very low). In contract, we have very rude drivers who like to flaunt the law. Smacking doesn’t guarantee better behaved children and parents can bring up children without hitting them at all. You are very correct - it is a full time job correcting them and making sure they stay on track. I only corrected my 27 year old the other day for being rude!! It never stops :)

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  2. I would never spank any child under the age of two. My oldest daughter was spanked as she was very disobedient and would not listen. We found out later she had ADD and that was the reason she had so many behavior problems. With my two younger children we did not spank. Time outs, withholding privledges, grounding, taking away toys, etc. worked well to enforce discipline. It worked well with the two girls, even through the teenage years, and they were strong willed teenagers. I regret spanking the oldest, but it was the only thing that worked at the time. If she had been diagnosed earlier with the ADD and was on medication, I do not believe we would have had to spank. Every child is different, but if you experience more serious behavior problems, I think the child should be tested by a professional. It can make a world of difference as we found out!

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    1. I also have regrets smacking my eldest and he too had ADHD. I think there are many methods that do work, but they take lots of time and energy and I think many parents can no longer be bothered. We did test some methods with no results at all - it really is trial and error to some extend. We found food modification made a big difference to our son's behaviour - some of his disobedience /mood swings was linked to chemicals in things like food colourings. Once we removed these, his behaved changed considerably.

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  3. Smacking does cause high emotion, but I think we need to view it in the light of Scripture. At a quick search I found Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13 and Proverbs 29:15. Each of these strongly advise smacking children, though no specific directions are given for the age of the child, or the size of the "rod" mentioned.
    There seems to me to be little point in smacking a child who does not have any comprehension of cause and effect, but as soon as they do, it is what God directs. The Pearls have caused a lot of controversy, but I would say - we are all EACH accountable to God for our decisions, and must answer to Him for them all, so we do not need to please people, but obey Him. We cannot judge others - this is not our place - but we can support them with our prayers and love.
    And I do not believe smacking is the only worthwhile punishment, though many other popular methods for discipline seem like a complete waste of time, and of no effect to me. However, this is MY opinion, and I am not going to lecture others if they do differently to us!
    love,
    Bets

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    1. Smacking certainly does divide people (so does methods of disciple as well) — I personally think it is the very last resort and should never be done often. I was smacked as a child (wooden spoon and the handle of the feather duster) and I hated it and found it very upsetting and distressful. I do not look back on it at all fondly and whilst I can say I survived it I wish it had never happened. Did it make me a better person, not sure, I certainly learnt to not do certain things so I could avoid being hit again.

      I think some modern methods work on some children and not others, whilst other methods might work better. It really is trial and error for parents.

      We are accountable for our actions and shouldn’t judge others their methods of bringing up children - I agree with you on this. But we all need to be mindful of not crossing the line when it comes to discipline and smack to create perfect children because we never will creative perfect children through smacking but the consequence of our actions will only create damaged children.

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  5. I am appalled that anyone would use Scripture as an excuse to hit their child.

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  6. What a polarizing issue. I too had a very strong willed daughter at times and we did use a little smack (more like a tap) to get her attention. But I heard this said once and I so agree - Never punished your child when you are angry. I also think the follow up after the smack is so powerful. If you hold that child and tell them you love them and explain why they had to be disciplined it works better. Visiting from Modest Mom.

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    1. It is far better to walk away when angry (or overwhelmed) rather than smacking your child - that is when it can go bad. This is especially the case when a baby has been cry and cry and you are feeling desperate. I can remember reading advice about placing the baby in a safe environment and walking out of the house for a little while, it can make all the differences. I agree with the followup after a smack is important. I just wish I knew this 26 years ago when I was a young inexperienced mum.

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  7. Thank you for joining the Small victories Sunday Linkup party. Please join again. Pinned to the group board.

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  8. I definitely go with Scripture, which says if we don't use a rod (to smack & discipline) that we hate the child. However, smacking should never be the ONLY form of punishment, it should not be used in anger, it should not be used to stop our children from peeving us... it should only be used appropriately. There are many forms of correction - and yes, it is important to understand our children so we can know if they have a problem that is causing bad behaviour (at the same time, we should never allow problems to be an excuse for sin!). It's important to remember that God also chastens His children, and some of His chastening hurts and causes much sorrow. If the type of discipline we use for our children doesn't hurt (this is not limited to physical hurt) at least temporarily, it may never have impact. The Scriptures are full of examples of the way God punishes and chastens and corrects His people, and this should teach us something. Sometimes people died, were struck ill, had privileges removed, etc. Of course some of those examples are not to be copied (!!), but they do show us that punishment and discipline must hurt in some way in order to have effect. And no one has the right to command a parent to discipline or not discipline their child in any particular way - that is not anyone's business (excluding abuse cases, obviously). Personally, I have found various methods to work with my children. Sometimes smacking, sometimes removing privileges, sometimes merely speaking to my children, sometimes asking them to write lines... there are many other creative ways to cause our children to learn right from wrong, as well. And if discipline is applied correctly, the need for it should decrease as they grow and mature - an added benefit of starting when they are young! :)

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    1. I agree - it is one of many methods and perhaps the last resort and I completely agree with your last sentence, it should decrease as the child grows and learns. And never do it when angry.

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