So I was sitting on a plane next to a very chatty woman in her twenties. She asked me if I had kids, and then told me a story about looking after her sister’s two little “brats” the previous weekend. She’d taken them to the playground, but they ran off in opposite directions. When she caught them, she told them off and gave them both a smack on the bottom. Then she laughed.
I couldn’t help wondering what her sister would have thought.
I’ve always been anti-smacking. Maybe it’s harder to get your kids to instantly obey when they’re not afraid of you, but I’m convinced that in the long run, my kids will benefit from not having been smacked. Time after time, I’ve gritted my teeth and tried to explain things patiently and use other consequences for bad behaviour.
If, after all my years of restraint, someone else came along and gave my kids a quick smack for misbehaving, I’d be fuming. Even if it was my sister.
It’s a dilemma that pops up in parents’ groups online. On the UK site Babycentre, a woman calling herself mjade69 said her father-in-law had been looking after her two children and had smacked her three-and-a-half-year-old son.
“Apparently DS had hit his little sister on the head (as they do, completely wrong obviously) and FIL said, ‘If you hit her, I'll hit you,’ and smacked him around the head. I know it happened as there was a faint red mark on his head and DS is the most unknowingly honest child (not always good!) and described what had happened in detail. He's been upset several times today about it.”