The subject of smacking is always a divisive topic in parenting debates. Is it acceptable? Is it a form of abuse? Is it beneficial or detrimental to a child’s development?

This topic was brought up on Channel Nine’s new show, Parental Guidance, and was received rather unfavourably by participants and viewers alike.

The show, which is hosted by Allison Langdon and parenting expert Dr. Justin Coulson, is described as a “groundbreaking experiment” that looks at the different parenting styles used by 10 sets of parents.

Understandably, the premiere episode went off with a bang after “strict” parents Andrew and Miriam admitted to smacking their children as a form of discipline.

“We see a smack as one tool in a parenting toolbox and it’s by no means the first tool that comes out of that toolbox,” Miriam said to the shock of the other participants.

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She added, “We make sure that we have gone through the other different tools and tried different ways and if there is a situation that has that purpose or defiance and we feel that in that particular situation that that’s the most effective tool, we ask the child to come to us, we don’t chase them around the house, and the smack is delivered on the bottom.”

Donna, who uses the ‘French’ style of parenting slammed the actions, saying: “You’re violating someone else’s body… It is a form of abuse. I’m getting a visceral response to this!”

Her husband Yann agreed, admitting: “It doesn’t sit well with me”.

Andrew and Lara, who use the ‘Attachment’ style were also against the strict parenting style, with them both admitting to being mortified at hearing the parents’ form of discipline.

The show subsequently required Andrew and Miriam to undergo a “role reversal” which saw their children – Luke (12), Grace (10), Tim (5) – smack them with the ‘wooden spoon’.

Later in the show, Andrew got teary, explaining: “I think we need to be really careful when disregarding or passing judgement on our parenting style because of one tool that is used in exceptional circumstances, very rarely, to bring correction.”

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He added, “We want to be the best parents that we can be and we want to love our children and see them grow. We all love our kids heaps and you don’t want to do anything as a parent that will give baggage to your kids. It’s hard to try and get it right and so we’re doing our best.”

Parenting expert Dr. Justin Coulson responded, stating that using smacking as a disciplinary tool “does not serve our children well” and “doesn’t help them to grow or develop”.

He added, “In fact, just recently there’s been new studies that have come out about how harsh punitive parenting – including smacking – is associated with reduced brain size in children.

“It’s a hard thing to say in a room like this, but it needs to be said. There just isn’t any evidence to support smacking as a useful parenting tool. It’s one that does need to come out of the toolkit.”

Surprisingly, the other parents in the group then admitted to also smacking their children.

Viewers were divided by the confession, with one person tweeting: “Smacking is such an outdated form of parenting, you can 10000 percent be strict without smacking”.

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How do you feel about the disciplinary tool of smacking?

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