Physical punishment of children needs to end

Hitting, pushing and other aggressive activities often adversely affect a child's development into adulthood. Especially when this happens four or more times. The national Australian Child Maltreatment Study shows that physical punishment can be both harmful and ineffective.

Research from the study confirmed that smacking can lead to compliance in the short term but it has serious long-term health consequences for children into adulthood.

In most Australian schools and childcare centres, physical abuse is not permitted. But it is legal in the home.

Parenting is often challenging and physical punishment is sometimes used when children misbehave. When emotions run high, parents can sometimes resort to smacking. But it is not an effective parenting strategy. There are alternatives.

There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to parenting and child behaviour management: there are different styles to suit different parents and different children. Here are some ideas:

  1. Make your expectations clear to your child, and try to be consistent.
  2. If your child crosses a line, pause before you react.
  3. When you don't manage situations well, make amends.
  4. Validate your child's emotions and explore the feelings behind their behaviour.
  5. Talk through problems when everyone is calm, rather than in the heat of the moment.
  6. Support children to take responsibility, and help them to contribute to problem-solving.
  7. When your child breaks rules and things go wrong, explore the natural consequences.

We are part of a campaign to end physical punishment of children. Add your name to the petition.

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