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The great debate

It is important that children learn how to behave. Parents have a very important job as role models for their children in helping them to learn how to do this.

Setting limits early on and explaining reasons for these limits helps to instill self- discipline. Smacking has no long-lasting positive effect and in fact smacking usually has to increase in severity in order to have the same impact on your growing child. This is where the fine line between smacking and hitting can be crossed. Smacking does not teach self-discipline and may teach your child to hurt others.

Every parent gets frustrated at times and it is at these times that a parent may smack in the heat of the moment. However this is an outlet for the parent’s frustration, rather than a helpful way of influencing the child’s behaviour. Try to use different ways to teach acceptable behaviour. Praise them when they are good and try to distract them from misbehaving.

How to avoid smacking

Is it legal?

It is unlawful for a parent or carer to smack their child, except where this amounts to ‘reasonable punishment’ regardless of any individual, cultural or religious justification. There is a grey area in the Law as to whether a ‘smack’ amounts to reasonable punishment. However, physical punishment will be considered ‘unreasonable’ if it leaves a mark on your child or if the child is hit with an implement such as a cane or a belt*. As a result, child protection professionals will assess incidents of physical ill-treatment of children, in order that they can understand, prevent and explain the consequences of further incidents to parents.



My child is being so naughty I feel like smacking them.


This has happened in the past and does not seem to be working.


Think about different ways of showing your child how to behave. Explain why you are angry.