Perhaps I am old fashioned, but in this house we fly in the face of ‘time out’ and use the ‘naughty step’. I realise that this is contrary to all my childminding training and it is something that I will discuss with parents. However, there are some reasons for it which I feel are valid. You see, I think that a child knows where they are with the ‘naughty step’. They know literally why and physically where they stand. It is very important for a child to know where they are and what they are doing and I think that the ‘time out’ approach when used properly creates a sense of confusion. As it can literally happen anywhere. Obviously the ‘naughty step’ is a bit harder to do whilst camping for example, but I tend to cross this bridge at the time.
The main reason I don’t like ‘time out’ is because in my experience it seems to leave the child wondering what is going on, there is no consistency. To me, it can become more of an emotional and psychological torture, I am not keen on this at all. I am really rather concerned about the use of emotional techniques on children and I think that in many ways they are as bad as the traditional smack. In some cases worse, as the power balance that can become established can be frightening. I also simply find it quite hard to keep a child in ‘time out’ whilst there are others about goading them.
It is incredibly hard to reason with a toddler, however I do think that there are ways of dealing with bad behaviour and getting the message across before you reach ‘time out’ or naughty step. Often these are as simple as removing the toy or moving the child. A high shelf has become my friend.
But why do I like the ‘naughty step’ approach? Firstly, it has been very successful with my son. One of the reasons that its use is discouraged is that it creates a place where the child does not want to go when undertaking their routine daily play, a place that is associated with bad behaviour. However, we have not found that. Instead, our ‘naughty step’ has become a place of quiet reflection. It is not usual for a member of the family to go and sit down on it for a break from the chaos of our household (one that is full of music, films, craft, singing and mess!) I think this reinforces the way that it should be used, no-one (apart from me) is sent to the ‘naughty step’ in an aggressive manner. It is a place where you sit and think about your actions. Despite this, in reality our ‘naughty step’ is such a major thoroughfare in our house that it could not for one minute become a tainted area, and I think this is one of the keys to success with the approach.
I’d be interested to know how you discipline your children, do you go for the ‘naughty step’, ‘time out’ or have you a new and exciting method which we could learn from?