To smack or not to smack?


“I do not punish my child”

Jean Adams, mom to 4-year-old Ben, says that she has never smacked him and never will. She also does not use traditional discipline techniques such as rewards or time-out.
“What I love about not using punishment is that my child doesn’t sulk and seldom lies to me. If he’s done something wrong, he knows he is safe to tell me and even if I’m angry, we’ll work on finding a way to fix things.

“No-smacking doesn’t mean just letting kids get their own way. It means learning conflict resolution techniques and being clear about boundaries and your own needs and values,” she says.

“Smacking is a last resort

Dominique Gotte, mom to 3-year-old Matthew, lives in the Eastern Cape. She believes that smacking is an essential part of her discipline routine – but it has to be done correctly.
“I believe smacking a child should only be done to avoid serious accidents or as an absolute last resort in discipline.  

“In our family, the key to discipline starts with establishing clear boundaries. Matt understands these boundaries and being exploratory will continue to push these boundaries. We use a three step approach when he is doing something ‘outside of these boundaries’.

First, he will be told why he needs to stop. Should he continue, he will be warned that should he not stop he will receive a smack. Should this still not work we will follow up with a smack with a hand on his bottom. The smack should never be done in anger and it is vital that Matt first understands that what he is doing is wrong and that the resultant smack is a consequence of his actions.  

“I am fortunate to be able say that Matt is a happy and playful boy and responds well to the first warning so that we hardly ever have to reach the third step of an actual smack.”

Teacher and remedial therapist Caroline Anderson says that smacking is an acceptable “last resort” for many parents and views it as an “extreme measure” when all other measures fail.

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