Parenting

Why Susie O’Neill stopped smacking her children

The swimming champion opens up about smacking her kids.

For years Susie O’Neill used smacking as a form of punishment, but the mother of two says she has done a ‘180 degree’, realising ‘physical punishment won’t work.’

Speaking with a panel of mothers for Australian Regional Media, O’Neill said, ‘I used to really smack my son a lot, but now I don’t because he’s now 10 and he’s physically probably nearly stronger than me and it hasn’t worked.’

The 42-year-old added that it was her son who helped change her mind. 

‘The other day I wanted my son to go to his room and he wouldn’t so I physically tried to drag him there but that’s when I realised he is a whole lot stronger than me now,’ O’Neill said.

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O’Neill said she adopted the form of punishment because that is how she was brought up.

‘I did it because that’s what I knew growing up, but I also find it hard to communicate feelings and put things into words,’ she said. ‘Plus I was smacked and it never hurt me.’

O’Neill is now a supporter of ‘positive reinforcement.’

‘I am doing a uni course on psychology now and it shows that smacking and physical punishment really doesn’t work. Positive reinforcement does,’ said O’Neill.

‘I still want to do it sometimes, and I do it sometimes out of habit, but I try not to because kids don’t learn from that.’

O’Neill is an eight-time Olympic medalist. She has two children, Alix, 12 and William, 10, with her husband Cliff Fairley.

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