IT TOOK the strength of her 10-year-old son to prompt the change, but Susie O'Neill says she's quit smacking her children.

The Australian swimming legend said she had always used smacking as a form of punishment around the home, but in recent weeks has flipped and put the palm away.

"The other day I wanted my son to go to his room and he wouldn't so I physically tried to drag him there but that's when I realised he is a whole lot stronger than me now," Susie said.

"Physical punishment won't work."

She said smacking out of frustration and anger now felt more wrong, than it did right.

Susie O'Neill says she has done a 180 on smacking.
Susie O'Neill says she has done a 180 on smacking.

"I did it because that's what I knew growing up, but I also find it hard to communicate feelings and put things into words," she said.

"Plus I was smacked and it never hurt me."

But a subject at university helped her understand why smacking hadn't worked in her home for the past 12 years, and why it probably wouldn't start to work now.

"I am doing a uni course on psychology now and it shows that smacking and physical punishment really doesn't work. Positive reinforcement does," Susie said.

"I still want to do it sometimes, and I do it sometimes out of habit, but I try not to because kids don't learn from that."

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