Smacking

It is important that children learn how to behave. Parents have a very important job as role models for their children in helping them to learn how to do this.

Setting limits early on and explaining reasons for these limits helps to instill self-discipline. Smacking has no long-lasting positive effect and in fact smacking usually has to increase in severity in order to have the same impact on your growing child. This is where the fine line between smacking and hitting can be crossed. Smacking does not teach self-discipline and may teach your child to hurt others.

Every parent gets frustrated at times and it is at these times that a parent may smack in the heat of the moment. However this is an outlet for the parent’s frustration, rather than a helpful way of influencing the child’s behaviour. Try to use different ways to teach acceptable behaviour. Praise them when they are good and try to distract them from misbehaving.

Is it legal?

It is unlawful for a parent or carer to smack their child, except where this amounts to ‘reasonable punishment’ regardless of any individual, cultural or religious justification.

There is a grey area in the Law as to whether a ‘smack’ amounts to reasonable punishment. However, physical punishment will be considered ‘unreasonable’ if it leaves a mark on the child or if the child is hit with an implement such as a cane or a belt*. As a result, child protection professionals will assess incidents of physical ill-treatment of children, in order that they can understand, prevent and explain the consequences of further incidents to parents.

*Source: www.childrenslegalcentre.com

How to avoid smacking

  • Try not to let a situation get so bad that you feel you need to smack your child.
  • Set limits early on.
  • Explain why you may be unhappy with their unacceptable behaviour and praise their good behaviour.
  • If you feel so angry you are out of control take time out and walk away.
  • Try to take a break, all parents get frustrated sometimes.