Smacking your child is officially illegal in South Africa, this followed the Constitutional Court’s ruling in September. According to the court, children have their rights to dignity and to have the paramountcy of their best interests upheld, as well as the availability of less restrictive means to achieve discipline, rendering moderate and reasonable chastisement is unconstitutional. Also, it was said to be proven that smacking a child can cause violent tendencies as an adult. Tabloid Newspapers took to the streets to get the public’s views on the ruling.
I am glad that this ruling has been officially implemented, as there are various other methods of discipline. This includes positive reinforcement. Discipline is a very tricky situation, and only works when parents or guardians are consistent and actually carry out the discipline process. At Broadacres Pre-Primary School, encourages positive reinforcement and don’t allow any physical harm to the child. We as educators reinforce the values and morals taught by parents and guardians, we are not responsible for disciplining the children.
Children learn through observed behaviours, they mirror everything they see around them. If children are expressing themselves by either being naughty or emotionally reactive
and the response they get is a smack, this is not conducive to helping them navigate and understand their emotions. There are other ways of dealing with these situations, like by having an honest conversation with them about their behaviour and what is expected of them because children understand many things.There are also things like positive reinforcement, where you tell your child that you are proud of them when they do something well. When we use negative reinforcements, it is not very effective as children will think that every time a situation comes along that they don’t fully comprehend, it will result in a negative reaction and this might effect them when they get older. Instead of just reacting to your child’s emotions, give them opportunity to learn more their experiences and how they can relate to others better.
I think that with the increase of violence against women and children, this is a step in
the right direction. Any form of abuse,whether physical, emotional, verbal or sexual will eventually have a psychological effect on a child when they become adults. The type of environment a child grows up in can contribute towards the type of adult they become. For example if a child is constantly being physically abused by a parent or guardian, they might mirror that behaviour at school or towards other people later on in life. I also think its important to take into account children with disabilities. They are seen as ‘easy targets’ for abuse because they are vulnerable and may not be able to communicate when they have been abused. Any form of abuse should not be tolerated, especially towards children. Children are our future and we need to nurture and keep them safe. We are the ones they look to for safety and comfort’s and thats what we should be for them.
I have always used methods like distraction or a time-out on kids that don’t behave in class. Parents also need to understand that there is a fine line between discipline and abuse. However, as a parent myself, a smack here an there when necessary, won’t do any harm. It’s imperative to be consistent when disciplining a child.