On smacking at four

In a previous post, we looked at the work of child psychologists John and Elizabeth Newson, who studied a group of children in the Nottingham area over a period of years during the 1960s and 1970s. The following extracts are taken from their first book, Four Years Old in an Urban Environment.

Given the cultural norms of the time, the Newsons’ study of four-year-olds predictably includes many references to spanking (mostly referred to as ‘smacking’ throughout, as is the British custom) in comments from parents. The following comments are about smacking as a punishment for wetting or dirtying underpants, as the children undergo toilet training. As with all the other books by the Newsons, the mothers interviewed here are only identified by their husband’s profession.

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