Last weekend some people at my church organized a bush dance to raise funds for the Westmead Children’s Hospital. I was really looking forward to it.  Because Birdy is just so into dancing at the moment, I was sure that she would enjoy seeing all the dancing and hearing the live music.  It was going to be so much fun… Or so I thought.

From the minute we got there, Birdy said she needed to go home.  She refused to play with any of the other kids.  She wouldn’t eat a sausage.  She wouldn’t talk to anybody.  She kept telling me she felt hot and that she needed to go home.  She didn’t feel hot to me, but after an hour of non-stop complaining I gave in and we went home.

Then as soon as we got home, she was fine.  Totally fine.  She was not even slightly unwell.  So I made her some dinner, and after she’d eaten quite a lot, she started throwing her food on the floor.

Now, throwing food on the floor is a pretty normal thing for a toddler to do. But I was grumpy because I was at home on a Saturday night, while everybody else was enjoying the bush dance.  So I said, ‘Don’t throw food on the floor.  If you do that again, you’ll get a smack.’ And she looked me in the eye and threw the food on the floor.  So I said, ‘Right, you’re getting a smack.’ And I smacked her on the hand.  Now, my husband and I don’t normally smack.  So she was really shocked and devastated.  And I felt terrible.  Because I realized immediately that I hadn’t really smacked her because she threw food on the floor.  I’d really smacked her because I was angry that I’d missed the bush dance.  So I said I was very sorry and we had a big, big hug and a big cry together.

I now know for sure that I don’t believe in smacking… for me.  I’m a pretty emotional person and I’m not self-controlled enough to know the difference between smacking that is really about discipline and smacking that is done in a moment of anger.  And if I can’t tell the difference until it’s too late, how is Birdy going to know the difference?  I was never smacked as a child and I don’t want to smack my child ever again.  I just hope that I’m self-controlled enough to stick to my decision.

Do you believe in smacking? Were you smacked as a child and has that influenced your attitude to it? Is smacking an effective form of discipline? If you don’t smack, what forms of discipline have worked for you?  Have you sometimes found yourself smacking your child, even though in theory you don’t like to?

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