Slapping and Authority

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I confess, I often use the expression “you haven’t been slapped enough as a kid” especially when I refer to immature spoiled people who believe that life owes them everything. I use this expression figuratively, though. In fact this is very incorrect way to express my beliefs.


No child should ever be beaten or humiliated. Nothing good could come from this.

On the other hand I do support the education in which parents establish their authority. Is this a contradiction? No, let me explain.

How to establish authority as a parent?

First of all, everyone should know that punishment and authority are totally different things. Actually physical punishment is the opposite of authority. Only weak and insecure people would hurt someone or something indefensive. Violence against children and animals is the result of deep emotional deficits and it can be seen as a symptom of some serious issues. Paradoxically it could be actually a cry for help. If you feel incapable of controlling your anger you should work on it (alone or with professional help). Best case scenario will be to do this before you have children, but believe me, it is never late.

Violence is a reflection of weakness.

I can give you a simple example. Once in the train I was sitting near a young couple with a baby. Very often the little girl was crying. The kid was 6 months old or even younger, even though her father was waving his hand around her face threatening that he will slap her. Do you realize the ridiculousness of such gesture? The baby cannot understand that her father’s gesture means a threat of punishment. Sometimes even by the age of 4 or 5 kids don’t really grasp the idea that all they do have consequences. However smart your kids are, at some stages of development, punishment means nothing more than some additional distress and it can’t be used as an educational tool.

How to show my inner strength?

Parent’s authority, unlike consequences and punishment, is something that the kid understands on a much more basic level. It is related to the instinct of the infant to idealize its parents, who protect it. At this early stage of life, parents are its whole universe.

One of the first words /concepts that the child should learn is the word “No”. At this early stage the kid lives here and now. Don’t try to correct his/her future behavior or to punish him/her for past events. Just focus on here and now. In order to establish the right concept of “cause and consequences” you should be very consistent when you say “No”. Kids are extremely creative and they will always try to avoid the rules, be strong and consistent and they will understand that “no” means “NO” and this will never change. Whatever the case is.

Stick to the rules and communicate them to all family members, so everyone is on the same page.

When the child starts asking “why?” you can try to explain the whole story of why some of your rules exist and why it is so bad to break them. If you are unable to explain, well you might consider removing the rule if it is not necessary anymore.

Little by little the child will understand the causes and the effects of different behaviors and desires. Ideally he/she will respect your position more and will be able to take advice from someone who is more experienced. His/her love to you will be the sole source of motivation not to break the rules (too often) because he/she will understand your position and won’t want to cause you distress.

I never said it was easy. Maybe in short term there will be little effect. There will be tantrums and tears, but you are stronger than that! In a long term, reason is much much stronger than violent punishments, humiliation and shouting. Tyranny will always cause hatred and resistance, or worse – mindless submission. You don’t want it for your children, do you?

Your paternal strength is hidden in your way to communicate your feelings timely and effectively. Even if you are exhausted, try to take a minute and explain why we do some things and why we don’t do other. And of course, how important it is for you to have a good kid when you have a bad day – just for a little while.

Remember that angry , aggressive and unstable parents cause nothing but distress. Assertive, confident and stable parents embody authority (even when they have a bad day).

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