Spanking your child has become a highly debatable matter of late, with some parents siding with the notion that a child raised with a firm hand turns out better, while others see it the opposite way.
Contrary to popular belief, a recent study by The Daily Telegraph, revealed that physically disciplining your child may have positive effects on their development and character in the long run.
The research, conducted in the United States, stated that the benefits of being firm with your child could see them being more keen and optimistic about furthering their tertiary education (which parent can say no to that) and the increased likelihood of them participating in voluntary work.
Currently, in the 2004 Children’s Act, parents in the US are allowed to physically discipline their children, provided that the spanks don’t leave a mark or bruise.
The study, surveyed 179 teenagers, about how often they were spanked and when last their parents did. Their answers were compared to their current behavioural traits and how being spanked could have affected those.
It turns out that those who had been punished up to the age of six, performed better in almost all the positive categories and no worse in the negatives than those never punished physically.
We spoke to *Qawekazi Matanzima, a mother of two boys about her views on the matter.
Growing up, Qawekazi says her parents would physically discipline her if they found it necessary.
Aged five and four, Qawekazi says her boys can really push the boundaries and she will sometimes smack them. “I’m very firm with my children. I don’t smack them for every little thing because they are obviously kids, but I will smack them if they’ve done something that I feel is worthy of a smack” she says.
Qawekazi also maintains that there is a difference between physically hurting your child and discipling them. “I’m trying to raise good boys who are well mannered, respectful and have good character. In order to do that, they have to know what’s right and wrong,” she says.
She also points out that her boys don’t fear her, but know that when mommy says ‘No” or ‘Stop’ they listen. “I believe children need limits and it’s up to the parent to set those, depending on their beliefs,” she says.
The survey further revealed that those who had been disciplined from seven to 11 years old were found to be more successful at school, although they had negative effects like being more involved in fights.
Marjorie Gunnoe, Professor of Psychology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids said physically discipling your child is a decision for the parent.
“I think of spanking as a dangerous tool, but there are times when there is a job big enough for a dangerous tool. You just don’t use it for all your jobs” she says.
However, The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is completely against spanking and has gone as far as fighting to ban smacking.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “The NSPCC believes that children should have the same legal protection from assault as adults do.
Other research has shown that smacking young children affects their behaviour and mental development, and makes them more likely to be anti-social”.
Interestingly enough, Parents Outloud, a pressure group, welcomed the research, saying it is okay for parents to smack their children when needed.
Margaret Morrissey, its spokesperson said: “It is very difficult to explain verbally to a young child why something they have done is wrong.
A light tap is often the most effective way of teaching them not to do something that is dangerous or hurtful to other people – it is a preventive measure,” she said.