I saw this article yesterday about a study done in the UK where they had found that children who were smacked up until the age of 6 were more successful in later life than children who weren’t smacked. I was reading some of the comments on the post at Her Bad Mother and I started to notice a bit of a common thread.
I’m not a smacker. I’ve chosen not to be a smacker because I don’t believe in the efficacy of physical discipline, I don’t agree with the message it sends and I just don’t think it’s necessary. That being said, it is every parent’s choice to decide what type of discipline is right for them. I wasn’t smacked as a child, and felt very strongly that I didn’t want Riley to be smacked. Mr Goog was smacked, and figured he had turned out just fine. But given I had strong feelings about it and he didn’t, we decided together to not use it with Riley.
I don’t find it strange when people choose to use physical discipline with their children. I do find it strange when people say they intend not to smack, but would like to reserve it for ‘just in case’ they do end up needing it. Although I can understand the sentiment of not ruling anything out, because kids have a way of making liars out of you, no matter what. And I’m not talking about the situation that was discussed in Her Bad Mother’s original post about smacking, but the logic of not agreeing with smacking, but allowing for the possibility of it regardless.
Generally speaking, the most common rationale is that smacking might be alright if your child is in a dangerous situation. Here’s where the argument starts to lose traction for me. If you can reach them to smack them, then surely you can reach them to pull them away from the danger? Personally, I think if I opened the door to smacking, then eventually I would be that frustrated, that scared, or that tired that I would eventually resort to it. For me, I think by taking it off the table, it makes it much more likely that I will never smack.
So suppose, for me and for our family, it’s a bit like the argument for cry it out. Crying it out does work. But it is precisely the fact that it does work that it concerns me, and why it works.As far as smacking is concerned, I have chosen not to because I think it’s more about punishment than discipline; that it does teach children – but it’s not a lesson I want Riley to learn and I’d also be worried that down the track it might lead to bullying on her part.
I realise it won’t be easy, particularly once we start adding to our brood, and it’s not just Riley’s needs that I have to worry about. As we venture more and more into toddlerdom and the necessity for consistent discipline I have come to realise that one of the most effective tools at my disposal is not always treating my needs as superior to hers. Sometimes yes, that is a necessity. But not always. The other day we were on the trampoline and I wanted her to get out so we could do the whole shower and bedtime routine. She most definitely did not want to get out. That’s exactly the type of situation I’m talking about. I’m bigger, stronger and meaner and I could enforce my will on her. But it wasn’t a danger situation (obviously), and in the grand scheme of things not that big of a deal. So we stayed on the trampoline for another 5 minutes and I asked her again if she wanted to go have a shower, at which point she was happy to go.
Riley’s still young and I don’t think I’ve really been tested in my no-spanking resolve as yet. There just haven’t been any real danger situations and she is currently an only child with often my undivided attention. I always say the true test of character is how you are not on your best days, but the type of person you are on your worst days. And believe me, there are some days when I’m not the type of person I would like. I’ve verbally lost the plot with Riley a few times. And for me, that’s just as bad as a smack. I can only hope that in the future, my character will be up to the challenge of discipline without physical (or verbal) punishment.
Because those cheeks of hers were made for kissing. And I don’t mind if she turns into a big softie. I am.