Monday 26 September 2016

If things are going bad, and I feel like I'm going to blow, I simply walk away

Published 25/10/2015 | 02:30

Unequivocal: Kellie Kearney and Joe Grace with their children Kayla, Frankie and Kadie. Kellie believes that it is never okay to hit a child. Photo: Arthur Carron
Unequivocal: Kellie Kearney and Joe Grace with their children Kayla, Frankie and Kadie. Kellie believes that it is never okay to hit a child. Photo: Arthur Carron

Mum-of-three Kellie Kearney is unequivocal when it comes to discipline: there is no circumstance, she believes, in which it is acceptable for a parent to slap a child.

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"I just don't understand how people can think it's okay," the 28-year-old hairdresser from west Dublin says.

"It is never okay to hit a child. No matter how bad a situation is, hitting your kids - or anyone for that matter - is wrong. It is never a last resort."

Kellie is an award-winning parenting blogger (mylittlebabog.com) and says she welcomes government moves to make domestic corporal punishment shameful.

"These days a teacher would be prosecuted for raising their hand to a child," she says, "so why not parents? In my opinion, hitting a child should be illegal and it should have been made illegal a long time ago."

She challenges the language - "just a tap", and so on - used by those who justify slapping.

Kellie is adamant, too, that "old-fashioned" notions of the "it didn't do me any harm" just don't wash anymore.

"A slap, a tap or a spank on the bum is not a form of discipline," she says. "As far as I'm concerned, it's bullying. Slapping your child shows them that violence solves problems, when it doesn't. It's just a quick fix, if it even is that. What it does, in reality, is damage the child's self-esteem and it can often be a confusing message if the parent, who's feeling guilty for slapping, over-compensates with kindness afterwards.

"Parents tend to lash out as a last resort and it's absolutely awful to see. You'd go to a shopping mall and you'd see stressed parents hitting their children and shouting at them. It's particularly hard to see small children treated this way, particularly if they've been tired after being dragged from shop to shop.

"We have a set of rules in our house and if they're broken, there are consequences. The eldest [five-year-old daughter Kayla] can test my patience on a daily basis, I'm only human after all, and if things are really bad and I feel like I'm going to blow, I simply walk away and count to 10."

Kellie and partner Joe have their work cut out for them: a second daughter, Kadie, was born just eight weeks ago while son Frankie, at 18 months, is fast approaching the so-called Terrible Twos of toddler-age.

"We have time-out and we lose privileges in this household and that's a logical way of dealing with bad behaviour. Kayla is of the age where I can explain to her why we aren't going to have such-and-such and she can understand that it's because of the way she behaved.

"But it's also very important to acknowledge, praise and reward good behaviour."

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