How do you discipline children without smacking them? I realise there are two opposing camps on this subject, Pro and Against. I am in the latter group.
I have to admit that sometimes the naughty step just does not cut it, especially when my daughter struts into the living room with a self-made sandwich, juice cup and a colouring book tucked under her arm. She annouced “I have just hit my brother with my shoe cos he is annoying me so now I’m going to sit on the naughty step” She totally stole my wind! ‘Clever little minx’ I thought as she settled herself down and casually called over her shoulder “Oh yeah, sorry by the way”. Fifteen minutes later I said she could get off the step to which the little madam had the cheek to reply “Not yet thanks, I haven’t finished my picture”.
When I was younger, my Mother worked to the three chance rule. 1. She asks politely to stop. 2. Demands firmly to stop. 3. “Right, that’s it” Whack. It never did me any harm, I did not grow up resentful and as far as we were both concerned, I probably deserved it. But did I?
If now, as a grown up, I refused to co-operate with someone and then that person decides I deserve a slap, is that allowed? I would have the Police onto her and she would be punished. That is the rule of society for grown ups; people who can defend themselves or seek help. Why does this rule of protection not exist for the defenseless?
People argue that they do not hurt their kids when they smack them, its just to shock or warn the kid. Those same people are the ones who smack their kids for mimicking their own behaviour! For example, two boys are in a playground. No:1 boy plays his own game while No:2 boy wants to play a different game, in frustration at not getting his way he hits the other child. No:2’s mother then storms over to her son and yells at him that “It’s naughty to hit” and then slaps him across the back of his legs. Hmm.. lead by example Mrs!
So far, my firm voice and counting to three has the desired impact. I am not exactly sure what happens after I get to three yet. On a particular occasion, my son tried to push it so I adopted my Mother’s “Right, that’s it” and stalked menacingly towards him, he ran screaming to his room and slammed the door. The handle was too high for him to reach so I left him in there for a time out. When the time comes that this is no longer effective however, I am hopeful that I will have done a good enough job that my kid’s own moral conscience will prevent them from becoming undesirables.
My firm voice, I have to say, is pretty impressive. After a few years of singing lessons, my vocal cords are quite powerful. My voice can boom without being raised and carries quite a distance (Not bad for an asthmatic!). Because of this voice, I have the dubious ‘honour’ of being the scary one, compared to my husband. Hubby has made the mistake of using threats to get the children to behave and then not carried them through, so now the kids know that tears and a snuffled apology will get them off the hook.
I am very much aware that a lack of discipline has been cited as the main cause of society’s downward slide. This to a certain extent I agree with, but is the problem really that some parents don’t wallop their children? Perhaps if explanations and conversations replaced threats and smacks from the outset, then the ‘need’ for a ‘well deserved smack’ would present itself less often and if we are really honest, how often is that ‘need’ more about the grown-ups frustration, lack of patience, tiredness and general pissed off’ness rather than a child behaving in a genuinely naughty way? How can a child grow up with morals, socially acceptable conduct, patience, forgiveness and respect unless they are shown those same qualities at home?
Are some parents just lucky to have well mannered, sensitive and bright offspring? No. They work bloody hard at getting a child’s attention from day one. Their children learn the value of others needs as well as their own. They are taught the fundamentals of respect by being shown it themselves and not for being slapped for reasons which they often don’t understand!
I believe parents hit, not because it is the only way to achieve discipline but because it is easier. Threats and violence are the very tools which we despise in bullies, yet apply these very tactics at home on the people who love them most. Society always proclaims that violence is never the answer, that we abhor it! Isn’t it about time that society proved it?