Shortly after my daughter, Evelyn was born I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of parenthood, and I had no idea how to look after a baby.
Thankfully I was diagnosed early and developed a wide range of tools and techniques to manage my mental health and get well. If I had hurt her I would never have forgiven myself, I even worry that being emotionally distant during that period might have left a mark.
The reason I mention this is because now it is unthinkable to me to deliberately decide to smack, slap, harm, or hit my daughter.
I love her so much, as she is unaffected by the worries of the world. She loves her body and is adventurous, and curious. She laughs so easily and lights up when I walk into the room.
And yet, some people hit their children. I live in the UK and I was recently in a pub where a family was out with two young children. Both under age five I would think. The boy started to cry for some reason, and the mother slapped his hand and told him to be quiet. He cried more.
I was out with my friend, who is a psychologist, and she gasped and whispered: “did you see that?”. What was also shocking is that those parents were comfortable in hitting their children in public.
Children are still learning how to navigate the world.
I can’t get around this idea that hitting is an acceptable educational tool. At two years old Evelyn is still learning how to manage her emotions (some adults still have not learned that), and she is living in a world where she has no real power or decision-making abilities.
She once drew on the wall. We didn’t need to hit her, we just said “Evie, no” with a firm tone of voice, and she cried and wanted a cuddle. She once drew in a book, and we did it again, she cried and said, “but paper!”. We had to somehow explain that drawing on paper is okay, but a book, even though it is actually paper, is not allowed. Unless of course, it is a colouring book.
Can you start to see how confusing the world is for children?
No wonder they get frustrated or confused.
Education and learning do not require brute force.
My day job is a media teacher in a college, teaching 16– 19-year-olds. I manage to teach them successfully without needing to strike them. I also own a mixed martial arts studio, where we learn to manage our emotions, thoughts, and body, while under stress. Such as in sparring. We do not hit full power, and the tone is playful, but I can see the micro signs of stress and anxiety that appears in my newer clients faces. It is the fear of being hit, as an adult.
For those of you that hit your children, what’s the cut off point? Can you hit them while they are small, and you can tower over them, intimidate them, and feel powerful? Do you stop when they are big enough to hit back?
For me to experience what my daughter would feel if I hit her, I would need to find someone maybe 18ft tall, to get angry, and physically harm me. I would also have to be unclear as to why the person I love most in the world, is now scaring and hurting me. Even if the smack was “light”, how scared, resentful, angry, do you think I would be?
Are you out of control?
Are you also doing it emotionally? Your child does something you disagree with you feel a negative emotion and lash out? What do you think that is teaching your child? That violence is an acceptable way to solve your problems, or its okay to bully and hurt those smaller and weaker than you?
Or do you wait until you calm down, and then administer the punishment in a cold, corporal kind of way. That sounds psychopathic to me.
If you hit your children you normalize violence, increase mental health issues, lower self-esteem, increase aggression and anti-social behavior.
If you hit your children, you have a communication problem, and cannot manage your own behavior.
Your child’s home should be a safe place. A sanctuary where you CAN protect them from the pain of the world. You certainly should not be the cause of it.
Previously published on darrenhorne
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