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When to intervene on a parent disciplining a child

Newshub logoNewshub 8/05/2018 Newshub staff

Watching a child be disciplined is always hard, but a recent case in west Auckland has caused Kiwis to wonder - when is it appropriate to step in?

Oranga Tamariki was contacted after a father refused to feed his child afternoon tea as punishment for not eating his lunch. A concerned parent had approached the agency after witnessing the child crying.

Although the parents were investigated and nothing came of the complaint, child psychologist Emma Woodward tells The Project the witness was right to speak up.

"He felt like he had a concern and he reported it to the correct authorities, and that's what they're in place to do, is make the right judgement call when we pass it over to the professionals."

a young boy standing in front of a building © Image - Getty; Video - Newshub. Ms Woodward says while the thought of stepping in and speaking to the parent may make some Kiwis uncomfortable, it's the right thing to do if they're concerned.

"Trust your gut instinct. If you feel that you're going to think about that after the event and wish you'd stepped in, then step in.

"Step in supportively and safely, and if you don't feel safe to be able to step in at the time then don't feel shy on referring on."

Dr Woodward says anyone who does step in needs to be careful of the language and try to be assertive, never aggressive.

"You can either try and distract away from the situation, [or] if you feel like you need to get directly involved, use assertive rather than aggressive language."

Watch the video for the full The Project interview.

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