How To Be Happy: Children should be taught with love and respect

Click to follow
The Independent Online

'Should we smack our child? My husband says it didn't do him any harm, but I am not so sure.' J.

Step 1: Violence against children is always wrong. What is the real lesson we teach our children by hitting them? We teach them that violence is acceptable, advantageous even, and that they deserve to be hit, because if your parents hit you then it must be OK, because they love you, right? Never hit your child. Once you have crossed this boundary you are more likely to resort to it time and time again. There is nothing to be gained from it and everything to lose.

Step 2: Parents often say that they have to smack to prevent their child from doing something dangerous, such as running across a road. This is thoughtlessly unimaginative. Children, like adults, respond to positive conditioning far more successfully than negative. For important safety and behaviour issues, train your children early in life using positive reinforcement. If your child forgets, you can indicate the seriousness of the lesson by putting a grave expression on your face, a stern intonation in your voice or, if necessary, by removing a privilege. Let's think about this: if we forget something we have been taught or do something "wrong", would we expect to be hit for it? Young children cannot understand complicated instructions or explanations, so keep it kind, simple, and importantly, consistent and they will soon learn what is appropriate and what is not.

Step 3: Emotional violence is just as reprehensible as physical violence. Parents who think it is acceptable to swear at, bully, terrorise or resent their children for being born also need help in adjusting to reality. If we raise our children with emotional or physical violence, we are in danger of creating violently miserable adults or adults who are anxious, lacking in self-worth and self-confidence. Children should always be taught with love and respect. They deserve nothing less so that they can grow into loving and respectful adults who have healthy self-esteem and who value themselves and others. Finally, if you see someone physically or emotionally abusing a child, let them know you don't like it. Tell them calmly that violence against children is always wrong.