Do you use the naughty step/corner?

Nov 8 • Featured • 957 Views • 15 Comments on Do you use the naughty step/corner?

In today's Observer there's a story about new research from think tank Demos which indicates that taking a tough love approach is the best way to produce happy, well rounded children.

One parent who has been interviewed in the piece says that using the 'naughty corner' has worked for her and her daughter.

Personally, I've always struggled with the concept of the naughty step/corner – and in particular, the idea that the child is encouraged to give the parent a cuddle after they've done their penance and tell them they love them. It seems contrived and artificial to me, and actually, a little emotionally cruel.

In fact, I think it's possible to teach children to be well rounded, helpful and useful members of society without putting them on the naughty step or in the naughty corner every time they do something undesirable. In our house, we've never used it. We've used 'go to your room' only in the most severe incidences of bad behaviour. What works for us has always been an instant explanation of why certain things are not acceptable. Not by shouting, I hasten to add, but by using the tone of our voice. Privileges have been removed only in exceptional (extreme) circumstances. And I'm confident our parenting style is working.

But all families are different and take different approaches. So what works for you? I'd love to hear your views.

written by Liz Jarvis


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15 Responses to Do you use the naughty step/corner?

  1. Maternal Tales says:

    Oh crikey, Liz, nothing is working for us at the moment! I’m really struggling with my youngest child (soon to be 3). She’s just so different from her older sister (5) that nothing I ever tried with the first one works with her. The naughty step is used every now and then and it seems to work for that moment in time, but it doesn’t stop the bad behaviour continuing on another day. I try tough love, I try kind love, I try all sorts of things – but as I write this it occurs to me that maybe that’s the problem (no consistency)! Hmmm. Ok, I will come back and see what other people write and see if I can glean anything from them…!

  2. becky says:

    If everyone has gor a bit over heated e use the thinking area where we can calm down, have a think about things then come back to talk about them an dfind a way to make it better or solve aproblem TOGETHER, Theres a brilliant book called unconditional parenting by Alfie Kohn which is all about love and reason not rewards and punishments. I love it!

  3. claire curran says:

    Yes I use the naughty step on my two and a half year old daughter. I’ve been trying it for the past 3 months and have found that she now knows that when she sits on the step she has been naughty, and will sit quietly and then give me a hug to say sorry when she gets off it. At first she just used to scream and bang her head on the step behind her, or get up every two seconds, but slowly and surely I’ve seen an improvement in her behaviour-and if she does start to be a bit naughty I tell her she’ll have to go on the step if she carries on and she stops 9 times out of ten.

  4. Jacqui Paterson says:

    I have a little stool in the hallway that I sit my 15-month-old daughter on if she does something really naughty, like scratches me in a fit of temper. The trouble is, she loves it! As I carry her over she starts giggling. When I sit her down I can hear her humming away happily, and when I got back to get her a minute later she’s grinning away, having a great time!!

  5. Expat Mum says:

    I’m not really sure what I did but for the most part, my kids were normal – not too naughty and not saints. I didn’t use the naughty step because quite frankly, I couldn’t figure out whether it was supposed to be punishment or a cooling off thing. I do count (even with teenagers) and it works. Most of the time I never get to 3 but they know that if I do, whatever I want to happen (tie your shoes – the 6 year old that is) will happen under my steam or theirs. The tough love thing is very important when they get older, but I prefer to think of it as clear boundaires and expectations, rather than punishment. You have to let them know in advance, what sorts of behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable to you. A lot of times, they’re greatful to you for saying "no" when their friends are trying to get them to do things or go places they’re uncomfortable with. I always tell them "I’ll be your bad guy. I don’t care what your friends think of me. Just tell them I won’t let you."

  6. Hot Cross Mum says:

    We have attempted to use a naughty step, although I’m not entirely sure how effectively as it still needs to be used 4 years on! What it does do is provide a consistent place to explain why the behavious was wrong and remove the child from the situation (handy when the situation involved hitting/biting your sibling). If only it worked every time – but alas, I don’t think anything, other than the passing of time, will see things change permanently. Interesting debate.

  7. pauline wallin says:

    My best friend’s daughter’s little boy (7) would sit on the naughty step under his own steam. He said he felt as though he wanted to do something naughty so would go and sit there in case he did. A very bright boy in the making!

  8. Sarah says:

    we have used it for both boys with varying success. My three-year-old got quite cross today when i didn’t insist on time out when he was fighting with his brother today. Time out is an alternative, and supposedly less negative term for the naughty step. Maybe the emphasis should be more on taking ‘time out’ of the situation than you are being naughty and this is your punishment, Having said all that, he gave himself some time out, and then re-entered the room to resume the fighting, Maybe he just needed a rest….

  9. Josie @Sleep is for the Weak says:

    Ahh tough one this one. Instinctively the concept of a ‘naughty’ step doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not a big fan of the tough love thing. But that the same time, when I was a child I would NEED a time out when my behaviour got out of hand. Time for quiet and to wind down and calm down (something I was never very good at). Truth is we’re not really there yet with Kai so I don’t know what I’d do. I’d never use a naughty step with him yet as he at just 16 months he wouldn’t understand what it meant and it would just cause distress, not teach him anything. Undesirable behaviour gets a gentle but firm ‘no’ and, at the age he is, I usually then try to direct his behaviour to something more positive. But I don’t know whether this is ‘right’. Just going to have to feel my way as I go I think… I imagine Kai probably is going to need some kind of ‘time out’, but I’d like to find a way of doing it that meant he was supported and taught to understand his emotions and why we don’t behave in certain ways. God knows how though – answers on a postcard please!

  10. Linda says:

    No, never used anything like it. I don’t know why but when we told our children not to do something, they listened, touch wood they were prety laid back.. Have always believed more in praising the good stuff! Breaks my heart to hear parents calling their children stupid…Also, can I just say I have neber been a fan of parents who are struggling to discipline their children putting their tantrums up as entertainment on prime time TV.

  11. sam says:

    Nothing worked for my five-year-old son. Until he started school I was desperate. I tried everything. Now he seems to have turned a beautiful corner and although he does have the odd blow-out – and getting him to go to bed on time is still a problem – I can ask him where my kind caring little boy has gone and almost in an instant he seems to calm down. My daughter on the other hand has just started terrible two’s and sitting on the step does seem to calm her down – she gets a warning first, but already I know that I have a more placid child on my hands than my cheeky first-born. It’s different for every child I’m sure and what suits some parents may not suit another.

  12. Bev says:

    Never really used the naughty step but they have been sent to sit in the utility room (it’s a rather nice one) or the porch sometimes, they hate the door shut so usually the threat that they have to go for time out with a shut door – something none of us like at any time – usually does the trick. My 5 year old loves watching supernanny for some reason, we now have to record it for her, and I have sometimes asked do we need supernanny to come see us and she always replies that she isn’t so naughty so will bear this in mind!! My nine year old loses ‘screen time’, ie anything that has a screen, be in the TV, his hand held games, or the WII. How long depends on what he’s done! Doesn’t happen very often though, he’s quite good! Love the sound of the uncontional book though, will look out for that.

  13. Karin says:

    Liz- As Little Miss is only 17 months, we have yet to do any formal discipline like the Naughty Step. I don’t really like the term NAUGHTY STEP but my daughter does know what NAUGHTY is. I do think it’s important that she know what is unacceptable and that she has to apologise for it but I don’t like the sarcastic "Sorrryyyy" that some children throw in. I’ll keep you posted on how we progress. In the US, Supernanny has made an impact and I don’t disagree with Jo Frost but I don’t think any of us can be as perfect as Jo is!

  14. Nicky says:

    I’m with ‘expat mum’ on this one – counting has always worked for me, as long as you explain clearly before you start what will happen if you get to three! You can also avoid tantrums with 2 minute warnings of having to do something like leave the playpark, rather than snap decisions – as long as you follow through. Another thing that works is ‘choices’ that result in the same outcome, ie the one you want! For example "It’s time to come out of the bath now. Would you like to pull the plug out or shall I do it?". But certainly being consistent is pretty important.

  15. PippaD says:

    We have a time out approach for when the counting to three doesn’t work. I can also tell Top Ender the word "key" if we are out in public and she is starting to misbehave as it is our word for "Stop what you are doing right now young lady!"


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