Sunday 4 December 2016

Annalisa Barbieri: A child will learn nothing from being hit .. except that the adult has lost control

Published 31/01/2012 | 12:47

Well, that David Lammy - who wrote Out of the Ashes in December; a book about last August's UK riots and the role of parenting in them - has caused a hoo-ha with his talk of smacking children. And a decade ago, I might have agreed with him. But what a lot of learning I've done in 10 years. Here's the thing with children. They aren't born bad. They're not born wanting to harm, or hurt or steal. Circumstances do that to them – adults do.

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You want to teach a child about self-discipline, about caring about others, about "doing the right thing"? Smacking won't do it. All it shows them is that you've lost control, at the very point where you're trying to teach them about control. Sure they may do as you say in the short term, because they are afraid or cowed. But they won't stay like that for very long. Ultimately, the fear will turn to anger, then pity if you're lucky, resentment and dislike if you're not. Hope your smacked child will look after you when you're older? Good luck with that.



Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever to show that smacking a child makes them less likely to riot, such as Lammy seems to claim. Plenty to the contrary. Read up, David. A child who has good self-esteem (and cocky arrogance is not having good self-esteem), a child who feels loved and listened to does not riot or loot. Children are not monsters needing the "evil" smacked out of them; reverse that, you might get closer to the truth.

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