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Barry Bateman Family Portraits Dec 2012By Sholain Govender-Bateman – Pretoria-based New Media journalism lecturer and editor who worked for The Star & edited magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry Bateman. Visit her on Twitter @sholain 

I’m not overly fond of smacking a child but with the new law against spanking being drafted and a very real possibility, I find myself a bit nervous and worried that my discipline choices as a parent may become limited.

My two little girls are adorable, in my very unbiased opinion of course. Isobel(5) has always been quick to understand what is right and wrong in terms of behaviour and even now takes time to decide what her choices are in a situation and whether her decisions will have good or bad consequences. Yes, she actually does use the word ‘consequences’ and quite often lectures me about my “poor” decisions when I choose to raise my voice in a conversation or involuntarily laugh if I see someone trip in a comical manner. “It’s not nice to laugh if someone has an accident mum!”

However, I value the option to give a smack on the hand if my 2-year-old persists in touching the searing hot oven, despite being warned against it, because she wants to grab a cookie that’s still baking. In my opinion, that moment needs quick discipline that has a lasting effect on my child so that she understands the seriousness of the situation. After the initial smack, I would sit her down on my lap and explain why she must not touch the oven and what would happen if she does get burnt.

Credit: www.wikihow.com

Credit: www.wikihow.com

A smack on the bottom or spanking out of anger or in a rage is very different, and I would never want to have my children fear me or my hubby so whilst we may threaten them with a hiding, we have never followed through with this. The best discipline method we have is to give them time-outs and then explain and resolve the situation when everyone is calm. It’s a cycle which may sometimes take days for the child to understand that their behaviour is wrong, but with a bit of perseverance and a lot of patience, it does work in our household. However, I think that depending on the type of child you have, as well as the personality of the caregivers and the home environment, it’s very hard to dictate what discipline method works best…

Will our children become truants and layabouts if we are not allowed to smack them from time to time for bad behaviour? Is smacking/spanking abuse? Are South Africans just plain aggressive and would a law preventing smacks/spanking help us all to become more peaceful human beings? Can such a law be implemented properly? I’m not so sure…

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