It actually will hurt me more than you

IT had been raining for several days straight.

Trips to the park had stopped, walking the dog along the beach had ceased and trips to the shops had become a hellish dash from the car, through torrential rain and into the chilly airconditioned plaza.

Cracks were beginning to show.

With no outdoor activities, the two-year old – uninterested in much more than bikes and monkey bars – was turning into a screaming, brattish monster the likes of which I’d admonished on Supernanny.

I’d exhausted my energies and finally surrendered to be the “mother” of all mothers – that is, the harassed banshee-woman screaming useless abuse.

“Put it down. Put it back! Leave it alone. Get away from it! Get off your sister!” I barked orders with menace, aware that I wasn’t offering positive incentives to do the right thing or even enforcing the pathetic threats I did make.

But, I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had not resorted to smacking.

And boy, was I tempted.

My growls of “I won’t tell you again” were ignored (largely because I would tell him… time and time again) and in the end I was yelling over the top of his screams.

By the time I had him in bed I was exhausted.

And just as I felt ready to sob myself into slumber, the news came on – talking of a study that found children who were smacked for misbehaving before the age of six grew up more successful and happy than those who weren’t.

My head reeled.

Had I spent the entire day doing my son a disservice with my saintly restraint? Was I wasting my breath on lectures and my valuable time on “naughty corners”?

I have no qualms about smacking but it didn’t work in our house. Not only did the bad behaviour continue, he even started smacking back which put the kybosh on physical discipline. I figured if my method was to lead by example, smacking didn’t really fit in.

Instead I give time outs, spout stern lectures on right and wrong and enforce teary apologies replete with hugs and kisses.

Some of these techniques come courtesy of Supernanny, some my sister (a former day care mum extraordinaire), and some (the dreaded kiss and make up) is a form of torture I was put through as a child (surely for the entertainment of the adults).

I wasn’t smacked (unless I’ve blocked it out) and I still consider myself happy and successful. So I have my reservations about this study.

Happy, successful people are not made by smacks alone, there are numerous environmental variables that affect a person’s attitude and success in life. Parents who care enough to set boundaries in the first place are ranked up there.

However, it is nice to see a study balance the scales in discipline debates. Parents who smack get more than their share of bad raps.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Playground politics and angry parents « PetaJo

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