While I was in the park the other day, I saw a mother smack her six-year-old daughter's hand because her child hit another child. The child cried and then the mother picked her up, apologized, and consoled her. If it had been my kid I would have hit her naked butt, made her apologize to the other child, and marched her home to send her to her room. What would have been the most appropriate punishment?
When my six-year-old did this I removed her from the situation quickly, took her to a quiet area of the park, and we waited with each other while she calmed down to include splashing a little cool water on her face from the drinking fountain. Once calm, I asked her what prompted her to act that way. She told me the other child threw sand at a younger child and wouldn't stop even after the younger child started to cry and she'd told the older child to stop.
I told her it was indeed bad for the child to have thrown sand at another child and that I would speak to the child's mother. Then I asked my daughter about other ways she could have dealt with the older child. She had many ideas, including throwing sand at him, biting him, and kicking him. We discussed some of the reasons these ideas wouldn't work to include the kind of trouble she would get into trying out her ideas.
Finally she said she could come and tell me. I asked her why she didn't. She said it was because she didn't think I would do anything about it. I reassured her I would always do something about it. She told me about situations from then on.
I spoke to the mother of the older child about why my daughter had behaved the way she did and had my daughter apologize to the boy. The mother was not receptive and insisted I spank my child instead. Curiously, she didn't smack her own child and didn't have him apologize to the younger child even after she'd been shown the younger child's sandy face and clothes.
The mother of the younger child was pleased to have been alerted to her child being hurt (none of us saw sand thrown at the younger child because it happened behind a pillar of playground equipment). I offered my assurance to both mothers that my child was not going to be acting that way again and that she would come get me if she had any more problems instead of taking matters into her own hands.