29 Oct 2010

To Smack or Not To Smack?

Being an authority figure/ a Parent means you are trusted and respected, not feared. As with most rulers that base their authority on fear by beating those that don't conform never last and usually are faced with Revolution..

A child's memories of being smacked can linger longer in their memories than happier times when growing up. We are all more likely to recall traumatic experiences than joyful ones. Think back to your childhood and see what stands out?

For me I grew up in a loving home, there was a lot of loud arguments, being that we are South American and even though I know it was a loving home I still recall the belt being taken off my fathers pants and me running to my room in total fear or the occasional platform shoe being thrown in my general direction. (Thank goodness the 70's are over)

There was one occasion when I have smacked and it was the last time. I actually found in this situation Amelie asking me for a hug as if to ask for forgiveness. She had obviously felt the smack, inside as well as out, and that lasted longer than the hug we had afterwards. That was the hardest thing I've had to see with tears running down her face, arms outstretched. I couldn't bare the pain it caused not only for her but for myself. I felt my heart being wrenched out of me. I felt a bond that was there being torn apart. It was then I decided there has to be a better way, it was then with tears now coming down my cheeks that I didn't want to lose something so special, something that we may never have again.

I decided not to smack again because I asked a question of myself…
Did I smack to punish my child, or to vent my anger?

I wasn't giving my inquisitive child a smack because she was behaving like a tyrant, but rather I felt I was being put-out or inconvenienced. I've read that… ('Parents who are programmed to punish set themselves up for punishing harder, mainly because they have not learned alternatives and click immediately into the punishment mode when their child misbehaves.')   I agree because if you go down this path, where does it end? Or more importantly, what does it lead to?

So how do you prevent yourself from smacking just from impulse?
    ⁃    I think the best way is to first repeat to yourself or rather instil in your subconscious that you won't smack.
    ⁃    That you will still discipline.
    ⁃    And to find an alternative to a smack.

I have found out since doing this that a stern but respectful word is more powerful in accomplishing what you want than a compulsive smack. I found that spending a lot of time with my girl doesn't give her the opportunity to get bored and thereby find other ways to get my attention by misbehaving. I found that a child just needs to have fun. I found that by letting my little helper assist in the work around the house she feels older but most importantly I let Amelie be a child.

So does Smacking show that it's all right for you to vent your anger or right a wrong?

Well I don't think so but others may differ. My reasoning is that Smacking really only tells your child that it's all right for people to hit people, and for big people to hit little people, and stronger people to hit weaker ones. Children then learn the only way to resolve a dispute or problem is to lash-out! As one study finds… ('a child whose behaviour is controlled by spanking is likely to carry on this mode of interaction into other relationships with siblings and peers, and eventually a spouse and offspring.')

I'd like to know from others their opinion on this matter, To Smack or Not To Smack That is the Question?

Side Note: One thing I have a big intolerance towards is the smacking of the hands. The hands of a tiny toddler or even slightly older child are a part of their curiosity, a tool used for exploring. By hitting these little hands you are reducing the child's want in searching their environment. Scaring them into not wanting to know more about their surroundings, new, fascinating, albeit in some cases dangerous things but with a simple gentle moving of the hand away and explaining the danger is far more an acceptable form of nurturing. Who is really to blame if the child is not being supervised appropriately?



AngelJane said...

I know this post is about smacking and my response may seem a little extreme but because I’ve been on the other end of this never-ending issue, I feel I’m more than qualified to give advice, even discuss the feelings of a child whose parents, regularly used corporal punishment.

I was a battered child. I realise that I’m not just talking about being tapped, smacked, pushed, or pulled... it was so much more and weapons were often used. Thank goodness I along with younger siblings was eventually rescued.

I would like to penetrate the hearts of parents, carers and guardians who smack. For me it was an act that the grown-ups did and on a daily basis I would feel destroyed inside because I truly felt I was a terrible child... It reinforced my own belief that I was completely unlovable and I wasn’t wanted. It made me creep about like a mouse just in case I brought attention to myself. It made me scan a room before I moved in through the door. It made me question myself, life, parents, siblings, adults. It made me smile when I didn’t really want to, it made me a dog’s body in case I missed something my parents needed doing. I became fearful of everything and even to this day I will flinch at any sudden or loud noise... Now as I have previously said this is extreme, but even a smack will and does bring about all those feelings within a child and if done often and over a long enough period of time, it eventually shows that child they are not worthy... so please, please next time you raise your hand.... look into your child’s eyes the evidence will be there, I should know, I also remember pleading with my eyes... because if I opened my mouth the punishment would be so much harder.

I went on to have a beautiful daughter... Did I hit, smack or batter her? NO... I did not, I used timeout; restricted privileges. There are so many more constructive ways to parent... No one needs to use brute force or even the short sharp shock treatment (for those of you who are old enough to remember that) it just makes the child feel bad, worse than you could ever imagine.

As a child from the past where that was acceptable within certain communities, I know this... it took me many years to heal and it took many more to realise, I am a lovely person worthy of love. We all have our own way of parenting, it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world but... believe me when I say abuse of any description is not acceptable.

Parent with a genuine unconditional love and you’ll bring up a beautiful healthy loving child who will know the right way to live, love & laugh... And if that doesn't happen, then you'll know you did your very best!


alejandro guzman said...

Thank you for your comment AngelJane, I can only imagine how hard that must have been to be put through such an ordeal growing up and truly brings the point across that to smack or verbally abuse as well I may add is just not acceptable.

Thanks again for sharing something so personal and real.

Anonymous said...

Wow two amazing stories - I'm totally with you both. I don't agree with smacking and I never have. AngelJane, I was so sadden to read your story and hate that anyone has to go through that, thank you for sharing it must of been quite painful to write that and so many battered children grow up to do just the same. I think you are amazing.

My dad did smack me as a child on a couple of occasions and in fairness to him it didn't do me any harm, but it wasn't done with malice and I could see in his eyes that it hurt him just as much if not more to do it. Where my own son is concerned I feel it's just a momentary reaction and not a form of discipline and that's why I would never do it.

alejandro guzman said...

I'm so glad to hear that Sarah-Jane. I could see with my father as well it was just the done thing at the time.


Now, for folks who beg to differ with me that's your opinion just like this is mine but let's be realistic. I'm not advocating anyone go terrorizing their kids by smacking them around, spanking and yelling at them for every little thing, all the time. Too much discipline is just as bad as too little. I think sane people know the realistic difference between corporal punishment and outright child abuse. Abuse sucks the energy and vitality out of kids, making them insecure and afraid--some retaliate by bullying others. Constructive discipline does the opposite as it builds their confidence as they learn how trust in their ability to discern and respect boundaries. Think concentration camp (abuse) vs basic training (tough love). I know, horrible example but you get the concept.

Now, obviously you are sane! Maybe you shouldn't have reacted out of frustration but any parent who claims they have never inadvertently made this mistake (whether verbally or physically) is a liar. There's no such thing as a perfect parent. The difference is in the emotional aspects and intent. Is the parent conscious of their actions and by all COMMON SENSE measures does the punishment fit the crime sort of speak? You're intention was not to terrorize and degrade Amelie. Trust me, abuse in any form is a whole 'nether animal and I'm willing to bet my last dollar your daughter did not feel abused. If anything, worst case scenario she felt totally confused by your actions buy naturally, she felt guilty for having disappointed her father somehow and wanted to make it better so she wanted to console you. Hence, the hug. On the contrary, if she had felt abused or done wrong some way she would have reacted with fear and rejection and withdraw from you. I'm no shrink nor do I pretend to be...well maybe a little but I'm basing all of this from my life experiences on both sides of the coin.

P.S. This is a great post Alejandro. I'm inspired me to write about this!

alejandro guzman said...

Again thanks Cheryl for your comment, I know what you're saying.. yet how far do you take this tough love? that's why I'm going to be checking up on your posts LOL. Get Inspired and write write write!


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