To smack, or not to smack – it’s an emotionally charged topic which remains topical for South African parents. What precipitated it last time, was a New Zealand bill in that proposed to outlaw smacking completely as a form of punishment – even by parents. Now there's a report that a surprising number of depressed new dads spank their one-year-olds.
What do South African parents say?
“Must we be burdened with rude stepkids? If we bliksem them then it's child abuse?, asks a forum user - at her wits’ end as she struggles to deal with rude behaviour.
Spanking a firm intervention?
“Yesterday I bawled my eyes out. Asked son (4) to clean his mess up four times and eventually he got a smack and sat in the corner”, writes another mom battling to bring order to her unruly brood. “You give them a damn good hiding and it's all good again for a very, very long time - that's what” is the firm opinion of this mom.
The shape of things to come?
It’s an emotional issue. Parents are either passionately defensive of their right to smack their children, or are passionately against this form of punishment. The truth is that the New Zealand proposal has, in the past, been mooted in South Africa as well. It’s difficult to police, so it may not be worth the paper it’s written on, but it’s not out of the question that the South African laws may yet travel down this road.
While the spanking debate continues to rage, are there other ways to get the attention of noisy and unhappy terrors refusing to eat their vegetables or go to sleep before 2 a.m.? Or perhaps it’s the challenge of having to deal with visiting stepchildren that behave as if they’ve never been taught to say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.
At some point all parents have to intervene and discipline their children. Is it possible to change bad behaviour, bad habits and bad manners without lifting a hand? Read how a few consistent discipline tactics can make all the difference.
Discipline is a necessity for raising children and an important component of any happy home. It doesn’t always have to be complicated or corporal - it just has to be clear and consistent.
(Joanne Hart, Health24, August 2007)