I don’t know about you but I get a bit tired of hearing the old argument – “I got slapped as a kid and it never did me any harm!” Well, my brothers and I were slapped as kids (it being part of 1970s/80s parenting) and I have to say it did do us harm.
In the most cases being smacked for something be it fighting/arguing/being cheeky or plain naughty left us feeling angry and vengeful. It certainly didn’t instil any respect in us or improve our behaviour (which looking back was pretty normal for a bunch of pre-teens). In fact all that being smacked taught me was that hitting was a great way of getting what I wanted. As a result my brothers and I often whacked each other hard whenever we were angry.
So while I agree with some of MP David Lammy’s report on last August’s riots, such as parents need to be able to set boundaries, and to exert a meaningful authority, I don’t agree with his or other people’s take that being allowed to hit your kids, instils discipline and respect.
The fact is it’s not actually illegal to slap your kids. The 2004 Children’s Act simply banned ‘unreasonable physical chastisement’, which is defined as anything more than a temporary reddening of the skin i.e. anything more than a sharp smack or a slap.
Now I am not a perfect parent. I get angry at my kids, I shout a lot and tend to snap too quickly. But what I try not to do is lose control completely, which I know from experience is where a slap/smack/wallop tends to come from. It’s not easy because as we all know children are testing especially when you’re tired and stressed. However, I don’t slap because I don’t want my kids to be afraid of me and to feel angry rather than sorry after being told off.
But what do you think? Is it ever okay to slap kids? Is David Lammy right – do we need to instil more discipline in our kids? Let me know.