Safe Parenting Handbook >> Smacking

"Smacking is the only thing that works... I get so angry with him sometimes. Besides, I was smacked when I was a child and it never did me any harm."

  • Smacking does not teach children self-discipline
  • Smacking gives attention to a child's bad behaviour
  • Children learn best by attention to tings they do well
  • There are many positive alternatives to smacking
  • Smacking teaches children to hurt others
  • When self-discipline is taught, smacking becomes unnecessary

The great debate

It is important that children learn how to behave and control their own behaviour as they get older. Parents have a very important job as a role model for their children in helping them to learn how to do this.

Teaching children from a young age by setting limits and explaining reasons for these limits helps to instill self-discipline. Smacking, which controls yours child from the outside, has no long-lasting positive effect. In fact smacking usually has to increase in severity in order to have the same impact on your growing child. This is where the thin line between smacking and hitting can be crossed.

Have you ever smacked your child? The answer from many parents reading this will be yes. Every parent experiences frustration with his or her child at various times. It is at these times that a parent may smack in the heat of the moment. There are parents who use smacking as a regular method of punishing and controlling their children while others use alternative ways to teach their children acceptable behaviour. Some parents use smacking as a last resort to set boundaries when all else had failed. They will ensure that the smack is not heavy handed.

However, simply because lots of people may have smacked their children does not mean it is the best way to punish your children or ensure good behaviour. Those who say smacking is acceptable have argued that t is not harmful in the long term and is the most immediate form of discipline.

The numbers of parents who smack their children is decreasing and lots of those who continue often do so because they are not sure other methods will work.

In this society parents are not allowed to physically harm their children regardless of any individual, cultural or religious justification. 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.

Warning Signs
What to say
A child who flinches when they fear they will be hit. Smacking a child in frustration with force, which in hindsight was unnecessary. Leaving bruising and other marks on a child. If you are concerned about yoyr own or someone else's smacking get support from the organisations listed under Contracts (see right). It is someone you know, offer practical help and suggestions about alternatives. Tell your child they have crossed boundaries or broken family rules. Use your tone of voice and facial expressions to help understand. Explain your reasons why. Make it a general rule not to smack your child. Use other ways to discipline; set clear limit and explain them, be firm and consistent, ignore trivial bad behaviour and reward good behaviour (perhaps use a star chart). Your Health Visitor

NSPCC Bi Lingual Service 0808 100 2524

Barnardo's 01268 520224

Social Services Blaenau Gwent 01495 355 794

Blaenau Gwent Local Safeguarding Children's Board, Heart of the Valleys Children's Centre, Old Blaina Infant School,
High Street, Blaina, Blaenau Gwent, NP13 3BN - Tel: 01495 355584