Will Smith’s Oscars Slap on Chris Rock: A Psychologists take for Children

“Comedy is the only hope for humanity”. – Rosanne Barr

I was taken completely by surprise when my 4 year old son came home from the playground the day after the Academy Awards and asked me “if someone says mean things to me, can I hit them?”. As a Psychologist who has spent the majority of my career working with children with behavioural difficulties and a Mum of impressionable sons – I felt the enormity of how my answer would help our kids understand the significance of ‘the slap’. ‘The slap’ for anyone who has been living under a rock (no pun intended), refers to the widely covered and televised Academy Awards moment when Will Smith walked up on stage to physically assault comedian Chris Rock, slapping Chris across the face after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith. That pivotal moment sent shock waves across the world, went viral and its repercussions are still being dealt with by traumatised families worldwide. Many comedians, such as David Spade and Dana Carvey have also spoken out about how ‘triggering’ watching the incident was for them.

Will Smith’s actions have also significantly impacted his personal life and tarnished his image and career. Will Smith has apologised and has been engaged in professional help, as his recent video apology detailed.

Raising kids in the technological 21st Century requires parents to help their kids navigate life challenges and issues in a vulnerable, real and authentic way. When I was a kid the old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”, kind of covered it. Today kids are exposed to so much more at an early age – their questions are curly and more nuanced. No easy task for parents. With Chris Rock currently touring around Australia, the topic is likely to come up for our children once again.

The vast coverage of the slap has permeated – which means it’s in the ether, in our awareness and as someone who teaches (and tries to model) living healthfully it is important it’s addressed. Why? because our kids are hearing about it through the school yard, people talking, TV, radio and internet – eavesdropping on Teacher’s, Mum’s and Dad’s. We can seize this moment as an opportunity to guide them so that they, as our future, are part of the culture shift that ultimately creates a more peaceful future.

Little proviso. LLL Psychologist and all affiliated resources, in no way ever condones physical violence. Even though I grew up doing Martial Arts, attaining a black belt, I have never been slapped or hit with malicious intent or done this to anyone. We also do not do this to our children. That being said I am equipped with the tools for self defence, in the event I may ever need it. In fact, Martial Arts, like Meditation, Yoga, Tapping or any Spiritual Practice, instills self discipline and mastery over over unruly emotional outbursts, to reach non violent resolutions.

Here are some things that have helped me in properly teaching my kids (and hopefully will help you talk to yours about the significance of ‘the slap’).

1. Understand the sacred role of the Comedian in our society; The court jester has always kept those in power in check. No one and no topic is off limits – that is where the purity of the art form of comedy resides. This even playing field stimulates conversation, deep thought and reflection on issues of the times in new ways.

2. The pressurised facade of celebrity; Jim Carrey recently talked about this and the pressures with worthiness that lead stressed out people to snap in such a public way as ‘the slap’ played out.

3. For parents of kiddos older than mine – Justin Coulson’s conversation starters to assist in moral development in children are fantastic. Check them out here.

So what do we teach our kids… and also model ourselves because kids are watching and learning how adults deal with conflict?

1. There is no room for violence, unless you are in immediate physical danger protecting yourself or others.
2. Make spiritual practice a priority. I recently did sunrise yoga at the beach. I kept thinking that if everyone started their day tapping into awareness, gratitude and compassion – that the world would be a better place.
3. Learn to de escalate volatile situations – Be proactive and take personal responsibility to invest in better ways to deal with conflict… eg tapping, mediation, therapy…, all valuable tools that can improve our lives.
4. We know, ‘hurt people, hurt people’ – Work on resolving your own issues so that you can be that soft safe space for your kids to deal with issues in a calm manner rather than allowing them to fester until they explode and act out. Violence is destructive and not acceptable or healthy for harmonious relationships.
5. Embracing tools like tapping as a life practice helps process negative emotions better, instead of allowing violence to be the solution, only to regret those actions later on.

Full credit to Chris Rock who kept calm… he could have hit back which would have escalated things further. His years of regular therapy is a testament to its effectiveness.

It’s never too early to teach children the stress reduction skill of EFT Tapping. Get your copy of our program Tapping 4 Kids to help your children, clients, students or little ones in your life to process their emotional concerns at an early age, so that the layering of issues that can often build up to an event like the slap do not compound over time.

Wishing healing to all involved and all who witnessed it!

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