This should be quite a hit with exasperated parents — smacking can help discipline children if done the right way, according to a new US bestseller NurtureShock. Screaming at the child is out but a calm, light smack can do wonders to get her to fall in line. The problem lies in just how calm and light this smack can be. Should you get it wrong, you might find yourself cooling your heels in the clink if the child calls a helpline and accuses you of abuse. Discipline now means a reasoned and democratic discourse with the errant child even as she or he is throwing the breakfast cereal out of the window and hurling epithets at you.
In another era, one could leave it to teachers to put children in their place. No longer. Teachers even suspected of causing any stress to the child may find themselves spending the rest of their days gardening in the state penitentiary. We thought that a whack was just that, a whack. We had no idea that it could be so nuanced that the difference between creating a passive or aggressive child would lie in the whacker’s mode of administration to the whackee. The calm clause presupposes that you smack the child while feeling no anger at all. This Confucian approach to discipline will prove hard for the best of us. “Come here Rahul and get a little whacky-whacky from mommy.” That should teach them not to misbehave.
In our days, it would be more like “Come here you little git, six of the best for you, and, by the way, I’m cutting you out of my will.” But let’s hope that like all trends, this is not reversed too soon as has happened with most other rules of parenting. That would be a real slap in the face for most of us who are unable to rein in our progeny.