Please don’t smack your children in public. Or ever, really.

At the grocery store yesterday, I heard a woman smack a child.

I was standing a checkout away.

Now I know there’s still a huge debate about whether parents should be allowed to abuse smack their children in the name of discipline. And smacking isn’t against the law as long as it is done within certain parameters. (Though I think the Supreme Court is a bit fuzzy in these matters since one person’s reasonable force is another person’s abuse.)

But still.

I know I don’t have children of my own. Which, to some people, makes my argument as useless as a diet Coke with a Big Mac meal. (I do want to point out I have a B.Ed, and while I’m not perfect classroom disciplinarian, I’ve yet to resort to hitting children which would get me fired and for good reason. I would be livid if someone hit my kid.)

However, when you smack your child on the arm so hard people can hear you, you may want to consider whether you’re disciplining your children effectively.

And when you’re doing it out of frustration and/or anger, you really need to evaluate if you’re teaching your child how to behave in public, or whether you’re just pi$$ed and need to overpower something smaller than you.

Having said all that, there is the rare, occasional time when a parent may have to resort to a more physical form of discipline than a time out.

Be forewarned, though, that research shows it doesn’t work. And may leave your children with physiological harm.

When all is said and done, I’m really upset that I didn’t say something yesterday. But words choked in my throat.

I’ll admit it: this woman looked angry enough, I figured she would go all Vlad the Impaler on me if I said anything. That, and I knew I couldn’t call the police on her.

See, the law says people can use “reasonable force” in disciplining children. So unless they’re not smacking their kids with a paddle or leaving huge welts, it’s permissible (I know: write your MP).

But you know what?

Little boys sitting in shopping carts don’t deserve to be smacked out of frustration so loudly, it sounds like a belly flop at the pool. Get it together and follow more research-based techniques for making your children listen. If you don’t want to do it for the well-being of your little person, do it because they might be charge of picking a nursing home for you some day and you don’t want them to pick one that will:

  • steal your money
  • feed you watered down gruel
  • tie you into your bed

I think the Criminal Code of Canada should make it legal to smack an adult who needs to learn a lesson. (With a reasonable amount of force, obviously.)

Of course, then there’d be a lot more smacking going on at the grocery store.

And a lot of other places.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. You certainly raise some interesting points….ones I’ve raised myself. I have smacked my child (not in public, because I was ashamed I even did it in private), and you’re right, it didn’t work.
    So I locked him in the boot of the car. That fixed him.

    1. Julie says:

      Thanks. I think parents need to have options, but there’s such a fine line that can be crossed. And the law helps to some degree (no objects, no face), but it’s still kind of fuzzy what is reasonable force.

      I was never hit as a kid. All I needed was the look. In fact, that “look” was utterly terrifying! lol

  2. Natasha says:

    I have two children and have tried the smacking option when my oldest was about two, on the advice of another mother, it didnt work and made me feel awful and sometimes I still do. I do NOT believe in smacking as its often done out of anger and frustration and you can hit them so much harder than you should and therefore the punishment no longer fits the crime at all. I believe in Dr Phils philosophy on finding a childs currency. For my 8 year old its her liberty, she gets grounded. For my 5 year old its losing out on time with us, she is sent to sit somewhere boring.
    Works for me and I dont feel guilt

    1. Julie says:

      I think that’s what happened yesterday: the crime didn’t fit the punishment. The child was just reaching out of the cart to touch the cash register stuff, which was probably not worth a slap. The woman, though, looked seriously POed. Probably because she had two boys under 4 stuffed into the cart seat and they were picking at each other. But still. I felt like $#!& seeing it. I know sometimes kids need to learn consequences, but I just wanted to hug the little dude. I was never hit as a child. The look was enough.

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