Do you use the Naughty Step?
We all know how tricky it can be to teach a toddler right from wrong. In her latest Parent Panel post Multiple Mummy Kerry is exploring the concept of the Naughty Step and whether it’s a method of discipline that’s right for every child.
I have to admit that whilst I know some people are not Supernanny fans I did think the Naughty Step idea was a good one. When Noah started his testing times it worked a dream, he understood, he did not want to go there and threat enough worked. I was so high on my pedestal with the ease of this discipline lark.
Then I had the twins and I fell to the ground with an almighty bump. And the bruise still hurts, let me tell you!
My three could not be more different in personality if they tried. Noah does not want to be told off. He will occasionally be naughty but is always very sorry and regretful. Chilled out boy is a cheeky chappie – he often gets away with more based on his cuteness, which I know is not fair but it’s true. He is very relaxed and in truth fairly good. His naughty things often revolve around food and any opportunity to snake it – he is like a Labrador puppy!
Little Madam on the other hand will cut her nose off to spite her face. She will not cry or make a fuss at the Naughty Step. She sits there with perfection, and she will say sorry to get off, but it is water off a ducks back with her. One time she was given a warning and she did it anyway and took herself to the step – as if to say “well, it was worth it!”
The Naughty Step with Little Madam is not working and I am at a loss as to what to do. She shows little attachment to anything, so taking things away won’t work. The only thing that she is bothered about is if I don’t give her attention, but then she is a sulker and this is tiresome when it lasts all afternoon!
Interestingly enough the Montessori movement has recently said that they don’t believe the Naughty Step to be the most appropriate course of action when it comes to discipline.
In fact it is going to the other extreme and saying that Maria Montessori, the Italian doctor who founded the movement in the early 1900s, believed rewards or punishments interfered with “children’s own natural desire to learn and to socialise”.
It is advocating letting children make decisions for themselves: when they misbehave they are not to be punished. This approach is supposed to encourage independence and parents should give children the freedom to find out for themselves.
On a basic level, I can understand this. When he was a baby, if I told Noah once I told him a thousand times: the radiator is hot, not to touch, and then I would move him away. Then on one occasion I didn’t get there in time and he touched it. After that never again, and I can understand the idea that he didn’t know what hot meant, and as soon as he touched it, I could say ‘’hot’ and now he has learned.
However, how does a child learn appropriate behaviour for themselves without being told what is and isn’t acceptable? If you do tell them and they then repeat the behaviour anyway and they are not punished, what does that teach them? They can do as they please? That rules don’t matter? How will they cope at school and in life when there are rules to follow?
I know that if I did not even attempt to punish Little Madam when she was naughty, she would think she could rule the roost. To be fair, I am clinging on by a thread, but I’m determined not to be beaten by her!
I love the idea of children learning for themselves in principle – it all seems very holistic and child-centered, but in practice is it realistic? When they are climbing all over the furniture in a friend’s house and you don’t tell them off, how would your friend feel? When they have drawn all over the walls, what do you do? If they have hurt another child, do you let them think that is ok?
I really want to read the book when it comes out as I do need more answers but what are your thoughts?