Hi Cathy, My little boy of 2 and a half is becoming very aggressive. I try not to smack him, but my husband does, and it is a strong smack. My child does not obey me at all, and has started to hit me, kick me and pull my hair very hard. I am just feeling in the middle. I try not to be as hard as his father because I am trying to keep a balance. My husband does not understand that he is being too hard on him. I want my child to listen to me as he does his father but without me having to use physical punishment. I don’t know what to do.
CG: Clearly you and your husband want to do what is best for your child. Your husband believes smacking is acceptable, probably because he was smacked as a child by his parents. Attitudes to child rearing have changed over the last 20-30 years and research has shown that smacking is not an effective method of correcting a child’s behaviour. Indeed the child often mimics the smacking by hitting others and showing aggression, as you are discovering. Smacking is an assault and although it is not yet illegal in the UK for a parent to give his or her child a light smack, it is illegal if the smack is hard enough to leave a mark. All children need boundaries and sometimes a parent needs to apply a sanction if the child oversteps the boundaries and is naughty. There are plenty of alternatives to smacking: time out, the lost of privilege e.g. television time or sweets, or even saying a firm ‘No’. Remember to praise your child when he is doing something right as so often naughty behaviour is attention seeking. If your husband is not open to discussing the disciplining of your son you may need to speak to a professional e.g. a health visitor. The welfare of your son is paramount and I am concerned that a two year old is receiving ‘strong smacks’.

Pause For Thought: Ignore negative behaviour as much as possible and praise positive behaviour. So often naughty behaviour is attention seeking.