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Lost

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I come from a background where I was hit by my father quite often, and occassionally by my mother too. My father has major 'anger management' issues, and would always hit out of fury and rage, up till I was around 18 years old (before moving out of that house.). My mother did it more rarely, but I remember she once hit me with hairbrush and I had a bruise on my face for the next few days after.

Anyway, maybe because of that, I don't hit my kids. There were a few times that I did, and then the offending child would retort with a "you didn't even hurt me!" comment, or s/th similar... so it was never very effective anyway.

But my husband does sometimes smack. And although I can feel repulsed watching / hearing him, and I can't BEAR seeing him in a rage, smacking my son, I also can't help but notice that it does seem to work. I posted recently about temper tantrums we were having with my son, and one very noticeable thing was: he always tantrumed when I was alone with him, hardly ever though with my husband.

Which has led me to believe that instilling a sense of 'fear' in the child can actually be good for him. Of course children need loads and loads of love, but now I'm thinking that they also need some 'fear' too.

I always make sure my husband gives lots of kisses and cuddles to the poor sobbing child afterwards to make it up to him, and we also have conversations with the kids saying how "Daddy doesn't like smacking you, but sometimes when you do naughty things, Daddy has to smack you. You need to learn that . . . . is not allowed."

Another interesting point: at first I would always insist that my husband calm himself first, and only hit rationally and calmly. "Now I'm going to smack you, son, because you threw the orange on the ceiling, and now there are stains all over the ceiling and the wall, and you need to learn not to do that." He did that for a while, but he said that it wasn't as effective that way, and when the child sees that he's angry about something it makes much more of an impression. When he'd smack the way I told him to, my son wouldn't be as fearful, and he'd be quicker to go and do the same thing again. But when he just smacked 'naturally', it was far more effective.

Judging from my son, his behaviour has really improved, and he loves his Daddy as much as (if not more than) he ever did. I also sense he respects him more too.

When I watch my husband hitting my son I can sometimes feel really ill... all these thoughts and feelings come flooding over me, reminding me of my own father hitting me and my brother.. and it's just horrible to see a grown man hurting a poor defenceless child, a third of his size... Yet I'm forced now to try to ignore my own childhood feelings and come to the reality of the situation, which is, that smacking only helps with managing his behaviour. I try and think of the differences between my father hitting me, and my husband hitting my son, and it is a very different situation.
My father would never say that he doesn't like hitting, and we never had any 'close' type of talks like that at all. He would never say things like "I'm sorry I had to smack you but..." and he'd never give cuddles and kisses. Things were how they were and they were never talked about, just accepted. But it's different with my son, and that thought helps me to bear the smacking.
 

David Baxter

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

First, using physical force or physical punishment on a child is never a good idea. It may be occasionally necessary to use a certain degree of physical restraint to prevent a child from harming himself or someone else - that's the extent of it. Second, you should know that in many areas, the use of physical force or physical punishment is treated as just another form of abuse and assault, and parents can and will be charged with the criminal offense of assault and endure CAS intervention if it is reported.

The message delivered when a parent uses physical punishment is (1) that this is an acceptable way to resolve conflicts or differences of opinion, and (2) that the biggest and strongest or most aggressive person gets his own way because he can impose his will on everyone else. It's unlikely that that's the message either you or your husband want to be giving your son, but make no mistake about it - that is exactly the message you are giving him.

There are ALWAYS other options and always BETTER options than the use of physical punishment, among them time-out and loss of privileges, both of which should be appropriate to the child's age, the inappropriate behavior, and other medical-psychological factors that may be relevant to his behavior. Additionally, the concept of "natural consequences" as a reaction to inappropriate behavior is essential. There are several books on parenting which address appropriate versus inappropriate discipline ( see Parenting, Children, and Adolescents).

One final point about the improvement in your son's behavior - All of the research over the years on the effects of punishment lead to the same very clear conclusion: Punishment is an effective way of producing temporary suppression of the behavior, BUT it is an ineffective way of producing long term change and it always results in undesirable emotional-psychological and social side effects.
 

Lost

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

I'm aware that many people are very against smacking, and that certain countries even have laws about it.

Personally, I do all the other non-physical methods, like time-outs, taking away privelages, teaching the child consequences as opposed to just punishing, etc. as I said, I don't smack, and never found that it worked for me. My husband also generally disciplines without getting physical. But in certain cases especially with my son, the odd time that my husband has smacked him, it's really helped, sometimes far more effectively than my own methods do.

I think that your points 1 and 2 could be true in some cases, but in the loving environment my kids are in, it's different. The blossoming relationship I've noticed between father and son seems to be proof of the pudding. And I come from a very anti-smacking background, thanks to my own experiences, yet I'm seeing that in our situation, this is actually working.

And I was wondering if any other parents have hands-on experience and what their views are.
 

David Baxter

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

Just to clarify, I am speaking not only as a psychologist here but also as a parent who has raised four children.
 

Lost

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

when I said 'hands-on experience' I meant parents who've tried smacking among other methods, so that they could compare and judge what worked for them.
 

Meg

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

Hi Lost,

I am not a parent and to be honest haven't had much to do with kids at all, but I did have one or two thoughts that I thought I'd share. It's only theory and I have no experience in implementing it, but I thought I'd put it 'out there' in case it was of use.

If there's a behaviour you want to stop, I understand that it is a good idea to pick a specific behaviour that you want them to perform instead and reward the person for doing that at the same time as trying to stop the unwanted behaviour. People perform behaviours for a reason. Do you have any idea about what your child has to gain from being naughty or doing whatever it is that is annoying? The goal is to remove the reason that the person wants to perform the behaviour. You have to make sure you pick the right thing, though! This way they're getting rewarded for doing the right thing, and there is no benefit if they do the wrong thing. It may also help to tell the person (or child if they're old enough) exactly what the deal is so there's no mistake. I don't know if I've expressed that very clearly, but I hope it helps.

I also had an additional thought to add to Dr Baxter's point that the use of punishment generally only has short-term effects. Precisely because the effect of physical punishment is so immediate, its use is reinforced in the punisher as being effective and this makes it more likely that it will be used again. Just something else to keep in mind.

Good luck!

Meg
 

Lost

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

Thanks Meg,

All I know is, that all my cajoling, negotiating, positive reinforcing - basically all the accepted and recommended methods, kind of, worked sometimes, didn't work other times... many times it took a mighty long time till they started working ... etc...
Whereas when my husband came along with a good old-fashioned smack - it worked 100% of the time, and it also worked instantly!!!

So we're talking about me - not the smacker, I'm the one who does all the other stuff, and I couldn't help but notice the way that the smacking really worked and helped improve his behaviour far more than my methods did.

And we've now been going through a period of excellent behaviour on his part thank god, and he probably hasn't had a smack from my husband now in over a month... or longer...

It's because I know some people are so against smacking, and I happened to be one of those people in the past, that I posted this post, because I'm now not sure if smacking is such a bad thing, since I've recently witnessed it being very beneficial. - only when done carefully, and lovingly, that is.
 

Lana

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

I remember reading an article that spoke about use of fear when disciplining children. It outlined the benefits mentioned here: quick results, immediate response, fear of parent, and so on. The authors agreed that all those are present at first (in keeping with the short term resolve), but it will fade, as will the fear factor. The article stated that instead of fear, the aim should be to earn and retain childs respect. They said that when children respect the rules and others, they not only will behave appropriately, they will enforce those rules themselves and others, with pride and love.
 

Meg

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

You're welcome, Lost :)

I'm not sure whether I made one point quite clear. There is a difference between reinforcement and extinction (which I described before but didn't actually put a name to). I'd like to clarify this, I hope that's ok. When you reinforce something you are trying to increase a behaviour, and when you use extinction you are purposefully witholding reinforcement of an unwanted response in order to decrease an unwanted behaviour. You might have got that, but I just thought I'd make sure. The thing with extinction and other such techniques is that sometimes there will be a period of resistance: the behaviour might get worse before it gets better, but it might just be worth sticking with it in the long run because it has fewer pitfalls than punishment. You do need to use extinction consistently, though, because every time they are reinforced it makes it harder to remove the behaviour entirely. I can see that you have seen a change in the behaviour of your son after he is smacked that has altered your view of its use. I would still maintain, however, despite the fact that it works quickly and visibly, that it is not the most effective behaviour change option in the long-term. If nothing else, it in itself does not teach a more appropriate way to behave, and the emotion that it generally arouses may lead to a clouding of the link between a behaviour and the consequence.

I'm glad that your son has been behaving well recently. Now you can give him lots of praise for all the good things he's been doing! ;) :)

Meg
 

David Baxter

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

There are many arguments against the use of physical punishment to change behavior (including the fact that in many areas you can be charged with assault for using it and/or have your child removed from the home by Children's Aid).

There is only one argument in favor of the use of physical punishment - the fact that it generally has a fast or immediate response. Even that is weakened by the fact that it is temporary and creates more problems in the child than it solves.

Ask yourself this: If this is your primary or sole method for changing his behavior as a young child, what will you have to influence his behavior as a teenager?
 

^^Phoenix^^

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

Actually david, that is a very very good point..
I don't have kids so can't help with this topic, but was going to come onto the forum and expalin that I got hidings when I was small, and the threat of a hiding either used to scare me into doing what I was told, (Or on other occasions, spur me on so that i could laugh as my mother chased me around the garden) lol
but when I read the teenage question, it really made me think. I was a terrible teenager. My mum still threatened to smack me and I'd laugh at her.... I had no respect for her at all.. (Not just due to smaking I'm sure)
anyway, I had never before thought about that point, thanks
 

Lost

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

David Baxter said:
Ask yourself this: If this is your primary or sole method for changing his behavior as a young child, what will you have to influence his behavior as a teenager?

As I said, it happens not to be my method at all. It's a method used by my husband - not as a 'primary' method, and definitely not as the only one. As a very lively and active 4 year old, at certain times, when all else fails, my husband will smack him.
We never smack my daughter (and I don't think we ever did) since although she is also a lovely lively child, she was never as wild as my son, and all the usual non-smacking methods worked wonderfully.

So anyway, you could calculate that it probably amounts to maybe 1% of the overall methods used to correct his behaviour. If it's even that much.

Clearly a parent who only smacks is doing much damage, and will be in trouble when the child grows up. But that is far from our situation.

<edited by Admin>
 

Lost

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

Meglet said:
I'm glad that your son has been behaving well recently. Now you can give him lots of praise for all the good things he's been doing! ;) :)

Meg

:) :) Yeah, he's one of those children, who, when he's good, he's just ANGELIC and says and does the most adorable adorable things... but when he's naughty... he's worse than the devil!
 

David Baxter

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

The fact remains that physical punishment is a bad idea on several levels:

(1) it is illegal in many areas and may well result in the parent losing custody of the child to child protection agencies;

(2) it can damage the child psychologically as well as the relationship between child and parent;

(3) it delivers a very bad message to the child: "If you don't like what someone is doing, physical violence is an acceptable way of reacting to this".

<edited by Admin>
 

Lost

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

As I've said many times, I was also against smacking, and I still haven't quite made up my mind about it.

There's no law about it where I live, since people believe that it's an infringement on their privacy, it's a private personal choice to make, and it's not something to establish as one-policy-fits-all. There's smacking, and then there's child abuse. And then, there are probably lots of shades in between.

<edited by Admin>
 

David Baxter

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

In some areas of the world, spousal assault is also still considered "a private family matter". I don't think that makes it right.

Let me ask you, both the specific you and the generic you, this question: If your husband disliked the way you were behaving, would it be OK for him to hit you?

<edited by Admin>
 

Lana

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

Hi Lost;
This thread is a trigger for me because I had a mother that subscribed to the smacking theory. In fact, she would adamantly support the methods described here. Lost, I realize you want to hear from others that perhaps practice that type of discipline, but I wanted to add something from the perspective of a child that got the ?smacking?

At first it was rare smack?.by the time I was in my teens, it was a regular occurrence. By that time I didn?t fear her?I hated her?and didn?t trust (nor care for) anyone that didn?t stand up for me.

One thing my mother used to do after the smacking, was to sit me down and tell me why I deserved it and that she did what she did because she loved me and wanted me to be a good girl. A child, by nature, turns to a parent for comfort, especially when they?re hurt/humiliated. Nothing in the world hurt more then to have that hurt consistently invalidated by the person that is supposed to love and protect, or when that same person stands by and watches what happens?yet says nothing. No betrayal is worse.

After a while, those talks meant absolutely nothing, because it had nothing to do with teaching me anything: it was justification for her (making a wrong right) and a way to continue doing it. You said in one thread that it?s ?only? been 10 times in 4 little years. I?m sure that didn?t happen when he was an infant, so then it would reduce the time span to let?s say 2 years, or even 1 year. That?s 5 to 10 spankings a year. That?s 1 every 1-2 months. That?s a lot.

I know you?re not the one delivering the smack. But you allow it?.by doing nothing about it and justifying it to a 4 year old who is just now beginning to learn.
 

Banned

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

I know you?re not the one delivering the smack. But you allow it?.by doing nothing about

This sentence speaks volumes. I was horribly abused by my brother when I was younger. I was also spanked by my parents more than a few times. Even when I got older and my parents stopped spanking, the abuse from my brother continued, and it was worse than ever.

My parents may not have been the ones at that point spanking me, but they did nothing to make it stop either. Therefore, they are just as guilty as my brother.

I'm going to preceed this next sentence with this: I am perfectly aware that dogs are not children, and vice versa. However, I've been training dogs for about eight years now and have done extensive research into punishment-based methods of training. The research and evidence is overwhelmingly clear that this is not an effective method to get behaviour, at all. In order for punishment to be effective, numerous things have to be in place, every time, and at the same time. 99% of humans are not able to do this. Furthermore, if punishment is going to be effective, it's going to be effective within 2-3 administrations. Anything more and you are not changing/influencing future behaviour; you're only stopping immediate behaviour from going any further. The same principles apply to humans.

I don't have kids and never will, but what I've learned training dogs has been absolutley invaluable in how I teach and motivate people. There is an expression in the dog world that nobody should be allowed to have a kid until they've clicker trained a chicken. They are one of the hardest animals to train, but it proves you can get any behaviour you want without ever touching the subject.

Sorry for going off - this is something near and dear to my heart that like I said - I've spent years researching.
 

Halo

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

Hi All,

I really wasn't going to get in on this discussion because I do not have children and I don't really think that I could offer anything that wasn't already posted by others but once I read BG's post the memories of my own brother abusing me came flooding at me and reminded me of the brutal abuse that I suffered at his hands. I was only smacked by my parents once although my brother was on a daily basis. I don't agree with the smacking but I now see that back in their day that was how some parents dealt with their children. Today I think that things are much different and the approaches that people take are different.
From the voice of a child being abused by their sibling, I can attest to the damage both physically and mentally that it has caused. Although someone might think that they are not harming their child by smacking them, I just think of that child when they are older and what they are going to remember about being smacked. I know my brother has mentioned the smackings that he got to my parents and they were quite surprised that he remembered at all. He told them that he remembered each and every time and that he didn't learn any real lesson from the smacking but only to not get caught at whatever he was doing so he wouldn't get a smack.

In all, I just wanted to post my opinion on the issue that smacking is never a good idea.

Nancy
 

poohbear

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Re: Smacking - what do other parents do?

I noticed that when Dr. B put the question of an adult's behavior being punished by "smacking" to Lost that it remains unanswered.

So, I will. And, inspite of the feeling that people are to scared to reply about "smacking", I will do that also.

I have to say that I agree with BOTH Dr. B and Lost, or those who may impose a physical punishment.

I grew up in a very abusive home. I was beaten, sometimes for things I didn't do, for things I had no idea about, etc. We were held almost as "slaves", working as servants for many years cooking, cleaning, laundry, scrubbing floors, showers and walls, etc. Our punishemnts ranged from beatings, heads slammed aginst walls, destruction of prized and personal property, humiliation tactics, being woken up in the middle of the night for various punishments and a few others I can't recall right now. I feared my parents, but did not respect them. I still do not respect them, or their parenting skills. I do not trust them with my children, and do not believe I ever will. I have horrible memories of my childhood. And the "love"/affection shown inbetween the beatings does not change that.

I married at 20 and we had our first child by 21. I noticed my anger escalating and my inability to "control" my child, nor my temper. I spanked him when "he needed it", and I really can't recall if it was often or not. One day, my two year old bit me. I bit him back, leaving a bruise on his arm. I was completely devastated. Soon thereafter, I was in therapy and on medication. I had even called an abuse hotline to try to get help. I was that scared I would hurt my child.

Since then, things have changed somewhat. I now have three children, 12, 7 and 2. My husband and I try very hard to remain united on the discipline front, but it is difficult at times. We have read about discipline methods including the infamous Dr. Spock, and another parenting book suggested by a family therapist. We have found them helpful at times, but most times, they have not been helpful. Patience has been our (MY) biggest virtue.

I have mellowed out over the years, and have grown accustomed to ignoring various behaviors in children. I'm quite capable of addressing children in a motherly tone, correcting their behavior, prasing the good, redirecting the bad, offering choices, decision making skills and the like, etc.

However, I have found that on thos rare occasions when my 12 year old (or 7) decides to directly disobey me or smart mouth me, repeatedly, after being told and warned not to, then a smart smack on the mouth seems to nip it in the bud. It sure beats yelling at the top of my lungs and getting all stressed out, which I tend to do at the end of my rope.

I can attest to the humiliation a child feels when being beaten. (There's a difference in beating and smacking, I'm sure, but it's hard to differentiate with everyone having different interpretations of the word) I can also attest to the hate that hitting fuels within a childs heart towards the abuser. I find myself devastated when I hit my children. It's a horrible feeling. And I know the kids feel the same way I did as a child. Loving and doting on them after the fact is too little too late. I hate that I resort to that particular tactic (hitting). I wish I had the presence of mind to attempt another tactic, or the patience. Sometimes, I just lose my temper, after trying so hard to be civil, and patient, and grown-up about the matter, then I just let loose and smack the culprit.

I must admit, this does not take place very often. I also must admit, that I would be embarrassed to do this in public or in the presence of anyone else, like family or friends. This tells me that I believe it is wrong. In the eyes of the law, it very well could be seen as abuse, although I don't believe the charges would stick in a court of law, as we are pretty darn good parents otherwise.

As to the efficacy of this practice, I can say that I DO NOT believe it is effective. My children usually get "smacked" for the same types of behavior. The effect is most definitely short term.

But, who are we kidding here? It is CHILDREN we are talking about! Children have the attention span of a house fly! Of course we are going to encounter "repeat behavior". They are testing their limits. It is the adults that have to mark boundaries and stick to them. Hitting is not an effective means to do so, in my own opinion.

All in all, my post is definitely contradictory. All I can say is i LOVE my children with all my heart and would do anything for them, Which is why I try my hardest to not punish them physically. I may slip up sometimes, but they know that I believe it is wrong and that helps me to maintain control. --poohbear
 

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