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Kids need respect, not smacking: expert

SENTENCING of a man who admitted to striking his eight-year-old daughter with a belt has ignited heated debate on disciplining children.

The 42-year-old man was placed on a good behaviour bond when he appeared in Toowoomba Magistrates Court on Monday.

He had pleaded guilty to using a belt to strike the misbehaving girl four times across the legs.

The sentence drew emotive online responses for and against smacking.

Toowoomba child and family psychologist Alex Bryant said during her 10 years working in the field, she had not met any parent who actually wanted to smack their children.

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"Parents also see that there are unwanted follow-on effects of smacking," Ms Bryant said.

"These include aggression and anger in their children and possible longer term mental health issues."

She had found that children might obey their parents when smacked, but only when the parent was nearby.

"Research shows that children simply learn to be more deceptive.

"Even proponents of smacking say that it should not be done in anger.

"However, it is hard to imagine someone smacking with a calm head.

"When we are not calm, this is an opportunity to take time out for example, to work out how to handle a situation better."

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Ms Bryant said when parents modelled courtesy and respect for their children, children learned to treat others the same way.

"With all the pressures on modern parents, it is important to remember that there is support available."

Services such as the Dads in Distress, ParentLine or a mental health professional can help with parenting issues to offer alternatives to smacking.

"In my practice, I work with parents to help them manage their own emotions when conflict arises in the home.

"When parents are able to handle difficult feelings, children are able to learn these skills in a safe and secure way."

Online comments

  • Sonia TaylorMorte: Hitting , smacking or belting a child is showing you have lost control of the situation. There are other ways to discipline a child. Hitting is violence and is not a good example for children .
  • Nicole Lily: "I'm only 20 and I remember getting belted as a child. It did help. It taught us kids respect and to do the right thing. We had to pay the consequences when we did something wrong, and did we ever do it again? Nope!"

Topics:  discipline editors picks parenting smacking toowoomba



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