Naughty step, you have been naughty

Toddler has had the ‘terrible twos’ for months now. At least that’s the label we like to give his behaviour that includes tantrums, hitting, throwing his toys and just generally being obnoxious. I’ve tried reasoning with him (according to one Health Visitor, you can’t really reason with children under the age of 3), telling him off, confiscating toys, and now, the ‘Naughty Step’ or ‘Time Out’ as we prefer to call it.

This form of discipline seems to have been made popular by ‘Super Nanny’ Jo Frost. I remember the pre-children days of watching the Super Nanny show, scoffing at the poor parents whose offspring were running rings around them and causing mayhem. ‘Surely they can keep them on the naughty step, I mean how difficult can it be?’ I ignorantly said.

Bloody difficult as I can now appreciate. At first, Toddler stayed in the Time Out corner (in our hallway) for the required 2 minutes, coming out and apologising for his behaviour when the time was up. After using it for a couple of weeks however, we had to start putting him back every 10 seconds as he kept making a run for it and thought it was a great game. I tried to keep my cool, and use a calm and authoritative voice to explain why he had been put there and that he had to stay there for 2 minutes but to no avail. One time when Toddler had continuously challenged my authority for the over 15 minutes, refusing to stay in the corner and laughing merrily each time he ran out, I admit that I lost my temper completely and screamed at him. Not nice for anyone and I know, defeating the whole point of Time Out. In my defence, I had a baby screaming for my attention in the background, who unfortunately had been ignored while I dealt with my older son, my breakfast was half eaten and I was tired and hungry and completely naffed off my son was behaving so badly and nothing I did helped.

On another occasion, Toddler became upset to the point of hysteria when I continually placed him back in Time Out when he refused to stay (he was there for hitting, again). We were both distressed and I developed a severe tension headache. I had to go into another room at one point to take deep breaths to try and calm down). This was upsetting for us both, yet I worried that if I didn’t put him there for the required time, he would think he’d won and throw a tantrum each time we used it.

Jo Frost’s book states that the naughty step technique does not fail. Oh no, instead, parents ‘fail’ the technique. So on top of the fact that my son continues to hit me and his brother on a daily basis, throw his toys dangerously at things he shouldn’t (Tiddler’s head, my face, the TV…) and I am trying my best to provide boundaries and discipline, I am now a failure for not applying the naughty step properly. Thanks Super Nanny for this helpful comment. I think your irritatingly patronising book (and technique) has failed me, and I will be filing it in the best place possible – the skip outside our house.

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