‘Have We Crossed a Line? – Can You Ever Justify Hitting Your Child?’

‘Dumpling’s been an absolute nightmare today! Earlier on, whilst I was breast-feeding, she just came up and wacked Pumpkin around the head three times – I couldn’t get her to stop so I tapped her on the hand’ High Command admitted to me as I walked through the door into the madhouse.


Its been one of those days. A really busy end to a really busy week at work. I have been leaving the house before the girls are up and getting home when they are fast asleep. My only contact has been garbled conversations with Poppet (4yo) and Dumpling (2yo) on the phone (Pumpkin’s still a bit young at almost 1 month old).

So today I set myself the goal to race through my workload and leave early to get home to take the elder two to buy an ‘Algae Eater’ fish for our ongoing Operation Aquarium project (which I have to say has been great fun).

Anyway I managed to get through my workload without getting too side tracked and left with enough time to get home to round the skidlets up and get to the Aquatics Shop before it closed.

As I walked through the front door I was greeted with the usual chaos. Poppet running around aimlessly. Dumpling in tears over something. And that was when I saw that something wasn’t quite right with High Command and she said:

‘Dumpling’s been an absolute nightmare today! Earlier on, whilst I was breast feeding, she just came up and wacked Pumpkin around the head three times – I couldn’t get her to stop so I tapped her on the hand’

Now I honestly didn’t know what to say.

For those of you who have read my previous posts about my childhood memories, hitting my kids in any form is a real deal breaker.

It’s just not an option.


However we have really struggled with Dumpling and her discipline.

With Poppet being so well-behaved going through the Toddler stage I was one of those really smug parents who looked at other kids behaving really badly and looked down my nose at their parents rather arrogantly.

Dumpling, on the other hand, has been a different kettle of fish…..

So we have been really worried since High Command became pregnant with Pumpkin as to what Dumpling would be like with a newborn sister. The honest answer is she’s been brilliant (well more or less) until today

Everything that a naughty toddler can do, you name it, she has/does do – hitting/biting/hair pulling/spitting/prodding/poking etc.

And the thing is when she does one of the above and you pull her up on it, tell her ‘no that’s naughty’ she just laughs in your face as if to say ‘yeah what you going to do..butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’..

But at the same time Dumpling is such a cute and cuddly and loving person that I think she has me wrapped around her little finger.

Oh and she is a bit different – just today the Manager at her Pre-School was commenting on how Dumpling is settling in and that she ‘Keeps all the staff amused’ and is a ‘Spirited whirlwind’ and ‘She ate her own body weight in soil today and then washed it down with the water for cleaning the pain brushes in’. When High Command was telling me this I really didn’t know whether to be proud or worry that it’s all my fault because I never properly sterilised her milk bottles when she was younger!

She’s definitely unique that is for sure and I love her for bits.

However the nasty streak in her when she is tired, or can’t get own way, means that she can be quite violent. There have been times where she has raked my face with her finger nails, then aggressively prodded her fingers into my eyes, that for a split second I have wanted to hit her back.

And the scratch and marks on Pumpkin’s forehead are testament to what Dumpling can be like.

But I am determined not to hit her (or any other of my kids for that matter) in any way.

Once you start tapping/hitting/thrashing/spanking your kids where do you draw the line?

Having been violently abused by an alcoholic Mother growing up it is only recently that I have been able to have wooden coat hangers in my wardrobe without feeling nauseous every time I reach for an item of clothing.

So how do I feel about the revelation today.

Well the honest answer is I don’t know how I feel……. I am certainly not angry at High Command – when put into perspective she has tapped the hand of a toddler who was seriously hurting a three and half week old sister who was being breast-fed at the time.

Have we crossed a line today – I don’t know? I think it’s a watch this space one.

I say we because as a family we are a team and I have to be honest I go to work for a rest and the thought of having a 4yo/2yo/0yo at home full-time is a tall order. And I respectfully take my hat off to any parent who is a full-time parent.

High Command is the most laid back, good-natured, lovely person you will ever meet.

But if you hit your child, even if it is tapping them on the hand, what message does it send to the child ‘Hang on I’ve just hit someone and you’re hitting me now – WTF does that mean?’

Talk about sending mixed messages!

For me its continuing to persevere with the time out approach and hanging in there as it will soon pass (well that’s what everyone who is further down the journey is telling me).

And for High Command she is reflecting on it and I am sure we will talk more about it tomorrow.

As always would really appreciate your comments on this?

Do you hit your kids?

Should parents who hit their kids be considered poor parents?

What do you constitute a hit – is it a tap on the leg or hand or thrashing with a belt?

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About Tom @Ideas4Dads (AndMumsToo!)

I am a 35-year old chap whose life just over four years ago changed forever – I became a Dad! I enjoy blogging about my family’s exploits with a humorous slant on things and I must admit I have a mischievous sense of humour and enjoy making my readers chuckle. Readers of my blog, which are both Dads and Mums, say they love the self deprecating humour interwoven with glimmers of useful advice and appreciate the ray of sunshine it brings to them. Although Daddy Bloggers are considered small fish in a very large Mummy Blogger pond, many Mums love reading my blog and even forward them on to their other halves :-)
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10 Responses to ‘Have We Crossed a Line? – Can You Ever Justify Hitting Your Child?’

  1. Emma kirman says:

    I don’t think you should beat your self up over this. It sounds like to me high command didn’t do it to be mean, or punish her but just to stop her hurting her sibling. It’s not like she could have allowed it to continue, there was no one she could have shouted, just like my eldest words are laughed at and no free hands to pick her up and remove her from the situation. I have never hit any of my children but I have once pushed my eldest of me whilst also breastfeeding the youngest. Did I feel bad? Yes. Did I instantly feel like the worlds worst parent? Yes. Did I promise myself I would never do it again? Yes. Did I apologise to my daughter? Yes and that I think is really important. I told her I was sorry for pushing her, that pushing is naughty but I couldn’t allow her to keep hurting her sister. I told her I loved her and we cuddled and made up, then she apologised to her sister and we all cuddled up. Just the fact you have written this post and asked these questions of your self makes you a good parent xxx

    • @Ideas4Dads says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment :-) I think the great thing about blogging is you can reach and get advice/reassurance which i have certainly got by reading your comment :-)

  2. Parents are expected to be too damn perfect these days. We are human! I once tapped my son when he was little and I spent days terrified that I’d done emotional damage to him.

    I also of know many children and teenagers who hit their parents even when they haven’t been hit themselves…

    • @Ideas4Dads says:

      Hey there thanks for taking the timw to comment :-) I can really relate to the ‘have what I done scarred them emptionally for life’ thing. At the end of the day as you say we are all human and if we try our best what more can we do?

  3. Steve says:

    Don’t feel bad. She had to make a split second decision to protect your little child. I would not say she went over board in any way.
    I am Sorry, I am totally going to go against the grain here and probably feel the wrath of a few parents for this and open a huge can of worms, but here goes.
    My personal opinion on this is that there are too many rules and guidelines restricting parents these days. Telling them what they cannot do, not what they can do. These days you are not allowed to smack your child when they are naughty. The kids are now wise to this and some, run riot and make their household a war zone. As a result, parent are too scared to chastise the child in case of having the social services knocking on the door or being view by others as a bad parent. I have heard kids threaten their parents with childline. My own daughter has even done this. Mind you, I offered to ring them for her, which is when she went off in a different tangent. There is too much interferance in parenting from the government etc which is stopping parents trying to sort things out. To me, the long term result is already evident. You have children now who just do what they want in the house and on the streets because noone will do anything to anything to stop them. Even down to policing. When I was a kid, we were terrified of the police. They would literally drag you home if you did some wrong, but not an arrestible offence. Something like spitting at people ( which I never did by the way ) or playing knocky nine doors. These days the kids know that they cannot be touched.
    Please don’t get me wrong here. I AM NOT saying we should batter our kids. Far from it. I cannot and will not condone that but I do think we should be allowed to smack our child on the bum or the back of the legs when the deserve it, within reason and obviously not go too far. I know this will sound old school but I was smacked and given the belt when I was a child and it never did me any harm. I resect my elders and certain people in authority, such as the police, and I have manners which is more than I can say for a lot ( not all ) children / teenagers and some adults out there
    The only time my punishment as a child went too far was when I was in my teens and was acting up to my mother, and a close friend of the family was at the house. He came storming up into my bedroom and cracked my head off the wall and knocked me out for a few seconds. I will never forget that, and I would never do that to a child.

  4. The Secret Father says:

    Personally I believe there is no excuse for any form of mental or physical abuse of children, smacking or hitting included. I don’t know how you are defining “tapping”, so it is hard to have an opinion in that respect, but it doesn’t sound serious to me. It’s definitely worth reflecting on though, which is I guess the driver for this post. I remember yelling at my little boy once (I wrote about it afterwards) and I felt dreadful afterwards. Somebody else above has written about the importance of using this kind of situation to demonstrate what it means to be an adult – owning up, apologising and showing that you too are weak and vulnerable sometimes, and I would agree with that. Although again, “tapping” as I define it is a questionable offence. At worst your child might act it out on a friend / another child. That would probably be my main concern. A good, thought provoking post.

  5. Mat says:

    I’d agree with much of what’s said above here: no need for anyone to chastise themselves too greatly for the ‘tap’, and in fact it might just prove to the best thing that happened: the child will have forgotten it in a trice, but for the parents, it’s time to talk. And agree.
    One purpose of chastisement in general is to bring a child back ‘into line’ – to stop hitting others, be more polite, tidy up their toys, whatever – so whatever you choose has to be effective. If you find yourself shouting at the top of your voice on a daily basis, it’s time to do something different. And if we put to one side physical abuse – and that’s a grey area, of course, depending on your point of view – then just how effective is smacking? For anyone who was smacked more than once as a child themselves, or who knew others who were, it’s plainly not a sure-fire deterrent to further occurrences. ‘Don’t get caught’ seems to be most children’s strategy! So on those grounds, compounded by moral considerations, it’s not for me.

  6. Tony Pitt says:

    Wow a really thought provoking post. I’m pretty sure this is going to divide everyone to each end of the spectrum.

    For me personally you could have been describing my 2 kids. One (the older) angelic, lovely, mild mannered whilst the other is a cross between the tasmanian devil and chucky. But ultimately I see nothing wrong with what High Command has done and neither of you should feel any form of guilt. There has to be a consequence be it a time out or whatever as long as there is one and you’re consistent with it. The scale of the consequence should sit within that parent’s scope of conscience and no other parent should judge them for it. But as you say, you’re a team so you need to be equally consistent with the consequences.

    Here in Germany smacking isn’t an issue because the parents pinch their children, right on the back of the leg mid way between the knee and hip. A really painful spot and it is used as a last resort to show that a child has crossed a line between normal consequence for misdemeanour to completely unacceptable behaviour and that I believe is the point.

    Smacking is useful as a last resort to show that something is completely unacceptable. A simple time out is ok, but how do you get across the difference in severity of the incident without variety of discipline.

    I remember when I was younger I’d get sent to my room or told off and I knew I’d been naughty, but when my mum grabbed me at the top of my arm and spoke slowly and quietly with viscious undertones I knew I’d really messed up.

    I don’t like smacking, but I have used it a few times when my son has bitten chunks out of his sister and drawn blood or done something so dangerous he could have really injured himself or someone else and I know I’m in the minority with this, but when the time outs no longer work where do you go and what do you turn to? But then using this logic, where do you stop? It’s a hard, hard choice to make but ultimately, as the parent the decision is yours and yours alone and no other parent has the right to judge you for it.
    Tony Pitt recently posted…An Apology To My KidsMy Profile

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