One of my occasional guilty pleasures is watching “The Supernanny“. I like to watch it for a couple of reasons…first, I like to feel superior to these people, because MY CHILD has never behaved in these ways, and really, we would never allow it. Second, I like to see how QUICKLY effective methods of discipline can diffuse a situation, how good communication between caregivers can help, and how the family can very quickly go from one based in hell, to one that you might actually consider functional. She does some great work, and her website actually has some pretty good advice. Some crap, too, though, so you have to weed through it.
My main problem with Jo’s method, however, is the ‘Naughty Chair’. If you’re at all familiar with The Supernanny, you know that a cornerstone of her method is the Naughty Chair. It’s no different than a Time Out. There are a couple of problems with time out as a discipline technique, for me. First, it doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes it does, and then it’s a fine technique. For example, if my child is behaving in a way that is disruptive and annoying, a logical consequence to bad behavior is that she doesn’t get to be near me. If she’s behaving badly in a grocery store, or a restaurant, a logical consequence is to remove her from that situation. That means you don’t get to stay if your child is misbehaving, which sucks, but it teaches the child, and is only fair to those around you. However, if she’s just made a mess all over the floor, a better form of discipline than sending her to a Naughty Chair would be to have her clean up her mess. If she’s too young to do a decent job of cleaning up the mess, she can help me clean up the mess. As long as she’s involved in the process. Another problem with the Naughty Chair, is that I always see the children getting out, and the parent having to pick them up and put them back in the chair. The purpose of a time out is to get the child away from the attention that they seek, and if you’re constantly having to stop what you’re doing to put them back in the chair, they’re getting plenty of attention. So, for me, the Naughty Chair, and Time Out, can SOMETIMES be an effective method of discipline, but only when they are the logical consequence to the child’s behavior. There are many, many more effective methods to use, which won’t turn into a power struggle, and won’t have you wanting to break the Naughty Chair over poor Jo’s head.
If you’re interested in learning more about Logical Consequences, which, by the way, I hated as a child, because they often meant going without my allowance until something was paid for, when a spanking would have been MUCH quicker and over with in my mind, click here for a good article. It’s meant for teachers, but it explains the concept pretty well.