Kiwis praising but still smacking kids

The Dominion Post 17/10/2009

Kiwi parents are choosing to praise rather than punish, a survey suggests. But almost half of the families surveyed still smacked their children, despite few believing it was effective. The Families Commission study interviewed 100 “ordinary families” – 117 caregivers – about the way they disciplined their children under five. The report, Discipline in context, published this week, said the parents were three times more likely to use positive reinforcement, praise and affirmation than punishment. But when parents did discipline, they were most likely to use “time out” – used by 82 per cent, although only half believed it was effective – or the withdrawal of privileges. Discipline was about getting their children to “behave in a socially acceptable way”.

Chief commissioner Jan Pryor said the results were encouraging and family violence messages were working. “Parents told us they preferred to use positive reinforcement with their kids because that is what they think works best.” But the study found smacking and shouting were used by 41 per cent, though often as a “last resort”. However, only 9 per cent believed it was effective. The study was done last month after the August referendum in which 87 per cent of respondents said no to the question: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said it confirmed that nearly “half our parents are flouting the anti-smacking law”.