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21 March 2022 is a historic moment for children and their rights in Wales. From this day on, physically punishing children will be illegal in Wales


Is anyone willing to admit to becoming so overwhelmed that smacking a child seems the only action possible?

I’m guessing that very few of us can happily justify this course of action – although as a parenting support worker I frequently heard parents make the comment ‘I was smacked as a child, and it didn’t do me any harm’. In such instances I would ask parents about that experience…how it helped anyone to feel good, and how they felt towards the adult who smacked them. Finally, I would ask if, during that experience, they remember why they were smacked. The shock of a smack often cancels out the actual disciplinary message it was intended to teach.

I have had the experience of being a parent who became overwhelmed at times and smacked my little daughter. In fact, it was this reaction to overwhelming feelings that first prompted me to seek parenting help. 

We probably all know on some level, as I did then, that using physical punishment teaches children that it’s ‘okay’ to do the same to others. Using this disciplinary method communicates low expectations, and it’s also very unpleasant for us as smackers too, so why do we continue to resort to smacking?

Through my therapeutic and parenting training experiences I see a toxic cocktail of immediate and past issues, which blend together to render a parent almost senseless at a particularly high stress moments in time.

Immediate issues like money concerns, a lack of support and a sense of isolation can mix horribly with past issues. These issues can include beliefs about ourselves (usually untrue/unkind), other people (judgemental) and the world (unsafe) which we carry about with us and which hinder rational thinking.

Material from the past is often made up of beliefs that we weren’t good enough, which we can swiftly translate into ‘I’m a rubbish parent’, ‘I have a bad child’, ‘it’s their fault’. We may then act in ways we cannot later defend.

We can help reduce or eliminate the ingredients of this poisonous mixture by offering support which appeals to everyone, not just targeted parenting courses for those deemed ‘in need’. We can encourage parents and caregivers to use new strategies to replace old, strategies which help everyone to feel ok about themselves.

As parents and carers, we need time and space for self-reflection, and the tools to be able do this, in order to understand ourselves. We can then develop the ability to challenge our thoughts and thereby change how we feel. If this becomes a habit then we can start to notice our stress points and warning signs and develop more helpful coping strategies for ourselves and those around us.

It’s my firm belief that we are all doing the best we can, given the situation, resources and knowledge we have at the time. If we get timely support with positive encouragement including a strong focus on self-care which resonates with us, then the discipline that we use with our young people could be transformed.

Nurturing relationships involve the sharing and amplification of positive emotions and the soothing and reduction of negative ones

Dan siegel

MEDIA CHALLENGES AND DIGITAL OPTIMISM training added in free of charge to a 3 day training, or available as part of a 2-day package to run alongside networking for practitioners who are already running Take 3 groups….

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