Before I had children I was very certain; one should never hit, spank, slap or smack a child, not under any circumstances whatsoever. This probably has to do with my background – in my home country hitting children is forbidden by law and naughty corners are something that was in use about 50 years ago.
In Belgium I have seen children being slapped and put in the naughty corner; I have even met mums who give their children cold showers when the toddler’s tantrum becomes uncontrolled. I still don’t think it is right to use even the mildest form of hitting (whatever the term is), but I am a little less condemning than I used to be.
My first child was very calm, so slapping was never anything I had to consider. My second one is strong-willed, stubborn and full of temper. The lady who looks after her in the crèche recommends me that I give her a little slap on the bottom when she becomes uncontrolled. With my first child I would have been horrified if somebody had told me that, but due to the nature of my second child, I can understand why the crèche lady said that, although not agreeing.
Sometimes my little girl does not respond to reasoning, explanations, bribery, diversion, distraction, time out or any other non-punitive method. The crèche lady says that according to certain psychologists, it won’t hurt my girl or scar her for life if I give her a little slap. She even goes as far as saying that some children need it, because all children need clear boundaries and all children respond differently to different methods. When you have a particularly strong-willed and disobedient child, you might have to give them a slap. Otherwise the child will become too dominant, and that certainly is not good for any toddler.
It sort of makes sense, but I still believe that slapping is not the solution, because if I hit, how can I teach my child that hitting is wrong? My toddler hits me sometimes when she is very upset. If I was hitting her, how could I make her understand that hitting is not acceptable? I keep thinking that if I slap her, she will think that it is ok for her to hit other children when she is upset.
It is only now that I have started to do some serious reading on the topic and my conclusion is that spanking is definitely not a long term solution. The more I read, the more I go back to my original belief: one should never hit, spank, slap or smack a child, not under any circumstances whatsoever.
I think the website stopspanking.org/resources is worthwhile reading for all parents and I would love to hear your honest comments on this topic!