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When I Was Asked, “What? You’ve Never Hit Your Child?!”

If you do not agree with what a friend or a colleague or someone else has done, or if they do wrong, do you hit them to "correct" them? No? Then why do you hit kids for the same?

If you do not agree with what a friend or a colleague or someone else has done, or if they do wrong, do you hit them to “correct” them? No? Then why do you hit kids for the same?

“Seriously? You have never hit your child? Ever?” This is a question I have faced innumerable times from family, friends and colleagues. Somehow it’s incomprehensible to most people that I haven’t raised a hand yet on my 5 year old daughter. Some think that I am just fibbing, and that I secretly do use force to discipline her.

But it’s true, I have never raised a hand to her. Neither has my husband. And we plan on keeping it that way.

We hit, because we can

Have you ever wondered why parents hit their children.? Ask this question to any parent, and the answers you might get are – to discipline them, to make sure they don’t repeat their mistakes, so that they don’t grow up into ruffians., the list goes on. But none of that is the real answer.

The answer is that you hit your child; because they cannot hit you back. It’s as simple as that.

Imagine any other scenario, take any other relationship as an example. Say you have a disagreement with your friend, or that you have a colleague who you know is not doing something the right way. Do you hit them? After all, they did do something wrong, so why not discipline them with a little physical force? You don’t; because you fear that they might hit you back, you fear that it might even have legal implications. On the other hand it’s easy to hit your child and get away with it, because after all, you do it because you love them and want what’s best for them.

They’ve grown up with the same

Another reason why parents do this is because, this is all they know. They have grown up getting hit by their parents. Your friends, your neighbours, your colleagues, everybody you know has grown up receiving these smacks at home.

It’s like a vicious cycle, and you end up doing the same to your child. It takes an enormous amount of strength to break free from this cycle.

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Easiest way to make a child “toe the line”

The third reason I would say is because it’s easy. It’s the easiest thing in the world to hit your child and just be done with the whole problem. It’s all over in a matter of a few minutes-  your child has been given a few smacks, you are feeling satisfied that you have taught the child a life lesson, everything done and dusted!

On the other hand , it takes an immense amount of patience; and more importantly, it takes time to sit with the child and explain why something is wrong, how it could have been done better, how to make the best of the situation now. Hitting is way more time saving.

What if the child strays?

And the final reason, societal pressure. The fear that, what if I go gentle on my child and he/she/they turn out to be unsuccessful in life? And then everyone will blame me for going easy on them.

No I can’t have that, better to give a few smacks.

Does hitting achieve anything?

But what we as parents fail to realise is that when you hit your child, all they are feeling in that moment is a whole flood of emotions- fear, sadness, anger, embarrassment. And in that flurry of emotions, the message that you so desperately wanted to convey to your child ends up getting lost. All that they actually learn from this episode is that “I got hit because dad/mom found out about it. I wish that I hadn’t been found, then I wouldn’t have gotten hit.”

So the next time, the child will make sure that he does everything possible to not get caught doing the act. He simply does not understand why he is not supposed to be doing it, because nobody took the time to actually explain it to him in a way that he understands. All that the child interpreted from this whole fiasco was that doing this makes my parent angry which results in me getting hit. So the solution- not let them find out the next time! And this also results in your child being secretive, your child not wanting to be open with you, because underneath, your child always has a fear of you overreacting.

Can we give our kids a gentler, more respectful childhood?

Dear parents, I know it’s easier said than done, to unlearn years of what we were taught of what was supposed to be the best way possible. And on some days, it’s going to be extremely hard to find that added dose of patience.

But trust me, it’s worth it to take that extra step, to take that bit of effort, because you are raising children for a better tomorrow. You are raising children who are well in touch with their emotions, children who are not afraid to stand up for themselves, children who can think for themselves rather than blindly follow the paths of others before them, children who will never put up with abusive partners because they know that it is not ok, because they know that violence does not equal love. At least do it for the simple reason that at the end of the day, it’s always better to go to sleep knowing that you had a healthy discussion with your child rather than be angry at your child and ultimately at yourself.

“Speak with your children as if they are the most wisest, kindest, most beautiful humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become..” — Brooke Hampton.

Image source: a still from the film Taare Zameen Par

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