Sunday, July 01, 2007

Smacking children (and dogs) - or loving discipline?

As Monicka owned up about the time she hit her son, I thought it was time for me to confess about my dog!

When my Eddie was a puppy, he went through a phase of nipping playfully - perfectly normal, at a young age a pup hasn't yet learned to use his mouth gently - and once when he hurt me I swatted his muzzle.

It was almost a reflex; I have never forgiven myself. Dogs have very sensitive noses and should never be hit in that region.

Anyway, I never raised my hand to my dog again, and am very grateful to my pup for teaching me that lesson rather than learning it on a child.Violence towards another adult is illegal, so how could we think it is OK to be violent to small children or animals?

For the record, my dog is a beautifully behaved member of the family. He never snatches food, and has learned the command "leave" so well that although he is only 3, I can have rescued baby birds fluttering around the kitchen without worrying about him killing them.

Now, if I ever need to discipline my dog, all I need to do is lower my voice and speak sternly to him. He has never linked this with any violence, yet he knows exactly what it means - his head and tail go down, he looks sorry, and does as he's told. If a young pup can understand discipline without violence, surely a child can too.

Violence is unnecessary for good and loving discipline, in my opinion. If we don't want children to learn to solve their problems using violence, it's better not to set them that example in the first place.

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