The Smacking Debate.

A recent study by a Harriet Hiscock, a pediatrician from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital researched the impact of parent methods on children’s sleeping behaviour.

Hiscock was quoted in The Age (10/04/08) saying:

children were nearly twice as likely to have sleep problems that persisted through the toddler years if their mother’s parenting style was “hostile” – characterised by yelling or physical punishment such as smacking – rather than “warm”.

In the article titled Smacking toddlers affects sleep it stated that

her research has opened a chicken-and-egg debate because it is not clear whether the sleep problems are caused by the mothers’ parenting, or if the frazzled mothers have resorted to shouting at their sleep-deprived, cranky children.

“It’s always a cause-and-effect argument and you can’t really conclude from this which one occurs first,” Dr Hiscock said.

Chicken or egg, regardless of which came first, to me this is another reason to add to the list of reasons why I shouldn’t smack my kids. Mr Infrastructure and I agreed very early on in our parenting that we would not smack our children.

This philosophy was further cemented after reading Louise Porter’s introduction to her book Children are People Too, where Porter explains the events that reinforced her choice of title for this book.

The second event occurs when I ask participants in training sessions on behaviour management to consider what carers should do when they are feeding someone who appears deliberately to spit food back on them. There are always some people in the group who say it’s okay for the carer to smack the child. But then I complicate the situation by saying that I was thinking not of a three year old but of an 80 year old who had Alzheimer’s disease. Now is it okay to smack the elderly person? We agree as a group that it is not. But why the difference? It can’t be that you can reason with one and not the other as Alzheimer’s disables individual’s reasoning skills. After some discussion, those who were willing to smack a child but not willing to smack an elderly person realise that, deep down, they were thinking that children weren’t people yet and so it was okay to hit them. The underlying belief in this book, in contrast, is that age is no barrier to human rights.

Megan at Imaginif has a great reading list on this topic on her post To Smack or Not To Smack.

What’s your view on the smacking debate?