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Guide to the law about physically punishing a child

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Behaviour Coping with parenting

Being a parent or carer is never easy. One minute you’re having a lovely moment with your wee one and then they’re crying and shouting the next. Coping with difficult behaviour can feel impossible sometimes. Especially when you’re dealing with the million and one other things you have on your plate as a parent.

We have lots of information to help you cope with these ups and downs. And lots of positive parenting tips to help you all stay calm and enjoy a less stressful household.

We also have information on a change in the law (Children (Equal Protection From Assault) (Scotland) Act) about physically punishing a child and what it might mean for you.

From 7 November 2020, it has been illegal to physically punish a child. Physical punishment can mean different things like:

  • smacking
  • skelping
  • hitting
  • slapping.

We know you want to do what is best for your child and you might be unsure about what this law means for you.

This doesn’t mean you can’t take your child away from danger or stop them from getting hurt. Like if they reach for a boiling kettle or try to run across the road.

This change is just about making sure that children are protected in the same way as adults are.

Parent Club is here to help support you through everyday issues you have as a parent. We have lots of tips on how to deal with the behaviour of children of all ages.

You can find out more about this new law on the Scottish Government website.

Our Family Support Directory has links to other sources of support and information you can access.

And we know it can be good to talk if you’re worried about something. You can call Children 1st Parentline on 08000 28 22 23 or you can chat to them online. These are free services available every day of the year.

Last updated: 8 Aug, 2023