Psychologist weighs in on smacking situation

A TOOWOOMBA psychologist has warned that regular use of a smack as a discipline tactic could developmentally harm young children.

Dr Ian Goldsmith, of Magnolia House, said a once-off smack wasn't critical but if used regularly, it would only serve to make the child fearful.

And he said under no circumstances was it appropriate for a child to be physically disciplined by a complete stranger.

"You don't go around hitting other people's children," Dr Goldsmith, a family therapy specialist, said.

"Not in our community anyway."

Dr Goldsmith's comments followed The Chronicle's story yesterday of mother Debbie Green's outrage after her daughter, Sophia, 3, was smacked by a stranger in a Toowoomba shop.

Debbie Green is hoping to spread the message it is not appropriate to smack another person's child after her three-year-old daughter, Sophia Green (pictured), was smacked by a stranger while shopping in a Toowoomba store.
Debbie Green is hoping to spread the message it is not appropriate to smack another person's child after her three-year-old daughter, Sophia Green (pictured), was smacked by a stranger while shopping in a Toowoomba store. Kevin Farmer

He said under the circumstances of the incident, the stranger should have deferred discipline to the parent - in this case, Ms Green.

"You need to respect the parent and the manner in which they will discipline their child," Dr Goldsmith said.

"In this case, the other person should have left it up to the parent to work out the best way for them to manage their behaviour."

While Dr Goldsmith didn't condone the use of a smack to discipline a child, he said used sparingly it could reinforce a message from a parent.

He said parents who do smack their children should not believe they have developmentally damaged their child, but perhaps reconsider their behaviour management strategies.

"We need to work on helping children work out what we want them to do.

"I don't want parents to think, 'Oh I have messed up my child because they were smacked', but I think they can find another way to model good behaviour."


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