I’m now in my early late 60s and long retired, but before my marriage and raising my own family, I spent about eight years working as a nanny both in the UK and overseas, and I thought you might like to hear of some of my experiences.
In the jobs I was lucky enough to get, the family policy towards corporal punishment varied widely. Some of the parents I worked for were very much anti-smacking, and of course I respected their choice, even though on many an occasion I felt my hand itch to give out a quick spank. In my experience, the children were generally less well-behaved in those non-smacking families.
In other positions, the option to smack bottoms was left open to my own judgment. Most only allowed hand spanking, I have to say, but I have quite a hard hand (or at least that’s what my charges told me!) and with a child’s underpants firmly down, the punishment of a well smacked bum was quite enough to restore good behaviour.
In a few of my positions, the parents have been very firmly in favour of CP and allowed me total free rein in disciplinary matters. In these cases, I mostly chose to use the hairbrush.
This implement was recommended to me when I was starting out by an older nanny who worked down the street from me, and who I saw most days out with our respective children. She told me: “There’s nothing better than the back of the brush on their bare backside to make them behave.”
I subsequently bought a Victorian ebony hairbrush from a local antiques market. My colleague was right – a smacked bottom with the hairbrush is factors more painful than an open palm, and the result is that the chastisement needs to be used only very rarely. A couple of families I’ve worked for had expressed frustration that smacking the children wasn’t working – a short, sharp encounter with Nanny’s hairbrush soon put paid to that idea!
I will end by mentioning something of an anomaly – a position where corporal punishment was highly approved of but nevertheless I wasn’t allowed to smack. This was when I worked for a minor member of the aristocracy and his wife, and I was told that all CP would be administered by the children’s father.
Whenever there was misbehaviour in the nursery, I would have to go down and see the father about the matter and if he agreed with me that a spanking was merited (as he usually did), I would be instructed to take the child (there were two little boys) to the bathroom. Once there, we would wait for father to come up with the slipper. I would leave them to it and the door would be locked behind me.
Then that boy would have his trousers and pants taken down and be put over father’s knee for a very sound beating – you could hear the smacks and squeals echoing around the bathroom, even through a locked door. Eventually, a crying child would be delivered back to the nursery for me to comfort and put to bed.
I would take their pants down to examine their bottoms afterwards and they would be red raw from their spanking. Usually, I would apply a little Nivea cold cream to their buttocks to help sooth the pain a little, then sit them on my knee and let them cry it out for a bit. Then it would be bedtime – smacked bottom and bed was the usual punishment, even if it was in the middle of the day. As I say, those little boys were well spanked, but they respected and loved their father.
I married quite late (for those days) at 25 and went on to have two boys of my own. Of course, in the role of Mummy rather than Nanny, I had a total free choice about spanking. I began with a few mild hand spanks at around two and a half, but as soon as they started school I switched to my trusty old hairbrush – bare bottom in all cases.