The issue of smacking children is in the news due to the introduction of proposed laws in both the Welsh and Scottish Parliament to ban this practice. This has come about because of the increasing levels of abuse, both past and present, coming to light. There are arguments both for and against a ban. See the following arguments – https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/smacking-children-uk-law-change-ban-is-it-illegal-what-are-rules-parents-punishment-a8069436.html and a website looking at alternatives – http://www.kidsbehaviour.co.uk/SmackingAndChildren.html and then there is the general approach to discipline.
All this boils down to one’s relationship with your children. Do you spend quality time with them playing games, reading to them, supporting them in a sporting or cultural activity or simply just going for a walk together. Many children are not disciplined effectively because the lack of a role model in their parents or they simply do not discipline – instead they probably just shout at them and then ignore what they are doing. I also think that the heavy use of the mobile phone is not a good sign as the attention is taken away from the child. Buying expensive or lots of presents does not help either – it just makes them want more and more ‘stuff’ and not appreciate the value of things. It is also often a sign that buying things on demand is often saying that I give in and buying a present will keep them quite (which of course, in the long run, it does not). Limiting the use of electronics like games consoles and the computer and then making sure there is social interaction will help with relationships in later life. It is also good to spend at least one main meal together.
If adults themselves can better relationships where they do not give up but talk through issues, they are more likely to stay together. Relationships are more than just sex, they should be about having similar interests, and doing creative activities together, not just watching the television or going to the pub – get involved with other people in an activity which builds up you and others. All this will help showing your children how best to develop, and will make disciplining easier and less frequent.
Because a lot of the above does not happen, and we get a lot of children who cause trouble in the home, school and the community, and separation leading to single parenting, relationships become confusing for children. A possible solution is encouraging parents and children to go on interactive courses on relationships, role modelling and discipline. The problem is though that the relationship training often offered in schools is not very helpful because it follows a laissez-fair approach to boundaries, especially in relationship to sex. Sex needs to be taught that it should be only within a marriage between a man and women, and that it needs to seen as only a small part of a relationship. For if it is purely based on sex, the relationship suffers and it can become exploitative in some cases. Boundaries are essential because without them there would be chaos: that is why we have laws. Unfortunately, many of our laws have very vague ‘boundaries’. For example, divorce is soon going to be very easy, instead of finding ways to work hard to restore the relationship, couples can simply walk away.
From an economic point of view, have a look at the following to see how much family breakdown costs each one of us – http://www.relationshipsfoundation.org/family-policy/cost-of-family-failure-index/
It also does not help that many Governement policies do not help relationships, and as a consequence disicpline. As a result the Relationships Foundation have developed a ‘triple test’ to see if a policy helps or hinders in this area of life – http://www.relationshipsfoundation.org/the-triple-test-economic-environmental-and-social/
I personally believe that smacking should not be banned, but it should be made clear that there should be boundaries:
- only use smacking as a last resort;
- smack only on the thorso, never the head or around the genitals
- never use a belt or other item, only use hands;
- never smack in anger;
- and make sure that a child receives plenty of hugs and kisses to show affection.