Monday, May 26, 2008

Discipline - Time Out / Naughty Corner

We are starting to see the first show of terrible two stage and its difficult to decide whether or not to discipline and if she can really understand. I had to use Time Out for the first time about 2 months ago.

T is usually rather well behaved. However, 2 months back she went into this screaming phase (lucky for us, this phase did not last long). It could be possible that she picked it up from the other children in the playgroup she attends. We would ignore her when she screamed at home, as research says that both positive and negetive attention will only encourage the child to continue with such behaviour. We were in the supermarket one weekend when she was having fun taking things off the shelves and putting them in the trolley. However, for some reason a temper tantrum started when it was time to pay at the cashier and she won't stop pulling things off the shelves. I gave her a few verbal warnings with consequence, she didn't stop, picked her up to bring her away from the shelves, and she struggled to get away from my grip. As her struggling didn't work, she screamed loudly in the middle of the supermarket and everyone turned to look at us. This was the last straw for me. I would never have my child be a spoilt brat screaming in public ! I must admit in the spur of the moment, I really had to curb my urge to just give her a slap across the face. I picked T up to my eye level (Super nanny Jo Foster would give me a criss cross for this as her instructions are for the adult to come down to child level instead) and told her very sternly that this is it, I have warned her and she didn't listen and she is going to get her punishment. I think she understood the seriousness in my tone of voice and immediately she calmed down and kept quiet. I asked our helper to finish off the payment by herself and I took T home immediately (The supermarket is just a minutes walk from our block).

Back home, I sit her down against a corner (it was tough to decide in such short notice where the naughty corner will be) and explained to her that she is being punished for her screaming in public. She did try to get up, but I put her down again and said she had to stay there for a minute until I come and get her again. She sat down, didn't cry, but just looked glumly at her toes. I sat away from her for a short minute and came back to get her with a big hug and kiss explaining once more on the reason for the punishment and asked her to say Sorry. That was the first and hopefully the last time she scream in public.

Since then, I've had to use the naughty corner on 2 other occasions. Once when she opened our front door by herself and again when she climbed and stand up on the dining table.
Then a funny incident happened last week at home. My helper told me that T intentionally threw her toys on the floor, helper asked her not to do it and T threw again with more force (testing the limits). Our helper chided her with a stern tone of voice. The joke is, T took the scolding seriously and when off by herself to sit in the naughty corner looking glum. Note, no one asked her to go to naughty corner, she just went by herself.

The good thing is she has learnt to associate the Time Out / Naughty corner with bad actions. The bad thing is we the adults must learn not to misuse this or it will soon lose its effect.