Mayim Bialik – TV star, feminist and attachment parenting expert – isn’t one to shy away from controversial topics.
The Big Bang Theory star opened up about smacking in one of her latest YouTube videos.
Mayim Bialik Gets Real About Smacking
In the six minute clip, she explains why she thinks parents should stop smacking their kids.
It'll come as no surprise to her fans that Bialik isn’t a fan of smacking.
The actor penned Beyond The Sling, a well known and loved attachment parenting guide for modern parents.
Not unlike her character in The Big Bang Theory, Bialik is an avid researcher, as well as being a neuroscientist.
In her video, she covers some of the scientific arguments against smacking.
“Science is on the side of not hitting children. We’re starting to see the longitudinal research into the long term behaviour of kids who were hit. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but statistically speaking, for the most part, the results are not favourable”.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics found, in a survey of over 34,000 adults, harsh physical punishment was associated with an increased risk of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse problems in later life.
Another study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found smacking increased the likelihood children would defy their parents, develop mental health problems, and exhibit antisocial behaviour.
And there’s plenty more science to back it up.
The overwhelming majority of research carried out in this area concludes smacking is, at best, ineffective and, at worst, harmful.
Read Smacking Is Proven To Be Ineffective – Here's 11 Reasons Why for more information.
Why Does Smacking Seem To ‘Work’?
In her video Bialik explains further why smacking ‘works’:
“So, why does hitting stop unwanted behaviour? Why does it work? Well, animals generally seek out pleasure and avoid pain.… When any animal experiences a strong aversive or negative stimulus, such as a smack or a hit or even a potch, the brain quickly learns to avoid the source of that pain in the future.
“This tends to be very efficient. Once you hurt a child, they will seek to avoid having that pain again. It works on adults, too. So, essentially, hitting teaches avoidance rather than obedience and, for some children, that does not have a lasting impact”.
It might seem obvious smacking can have an impact on the parent-child relationship. If you were smacked as a child, you probably remember only too well the burning resentment and anger you felt when you were hit (and probably for a while afterwards, too). Violence has no place in a loving relationship, whether between romantic partners or between parent and child.
Bialik shares her thoughts on this in the clip:
“Being hurt by someone who loves you makes no more sense to a child than it does to an adult. You can’t hit your spouse, you can’t hit your student, you can’t hit a stranger, you can’t even hit your dog. Yet we have laws protecting, defending and justifying hitting a child. It makes no sense, and it’s time to stop pretending it does”.
The harmful effects of smacking have been covered by the media, but many parents are still unsure about what they should do instead. For parents who were smacked in childhood, smacking might be something they do in moments of stress, without stopping to give it much thought.
After all, nobody makes good decisions while feeling stressed and angry. That’s why it’s important to consider issues like this during times of clear-headedness.
Bialik has a few important pointers for other parents:
“Of course, there are times when I’m driven mad by my kids, but since I don’t believe in hitting children, I’ve had to find new ways of disciplining them.… The parenting I choose to live by reminds me to work towards building up my relationship with my children at all times.
“And to remember that everything I do shows my vulnerability, my compassion and my love for them on a daily basis. And this is emotional money in the bank, so that when we have challenges we can work from a foundation that’s based on comfort, safety, and a mutual desire for growth”.
Once again, Bialik has drawn attention to an important parenting issue. We can only hope it inspires people to give some thought to the ethics and effectiveness of smacking.
She states: “As a society we can work towards more compassionate ways of disciplining children”.
Hear, hear, Bialik.