Friday, May 12, 2006

Super Nanny Really Works!!

For those of you who don’t know the wonder woman… Supper Nanny is Jo Frost. She’s a Brit, who has her own TV show, and really knows how to lay down the law for kids. Her show… titled “Super Nanny” was aired in Dubai up until a few months ago.

It’s about troubled parents who have lost control of their kids. Super Nanny helps them put down firm ground rules, and start working together at being a healthy and happy family. Over the few months that we watched the show, we saw Super Nanny help countless moms turn their tears into smiles. She worked miracles with even the worst kids, and the best part is… all the advice that she gave out was realistic, and we felt we could use it too!

Super Nanny’s magic charm was the “Naughty Chair”. She told parents to keep a chair in a visible part of the house and tell the kids that this was the “naughty chair”, and if they misbehave, they will be placed on it. The rule is that when your child misbehaves, you make eye contact and give them a warning. If the behavior is repeated, you place the child on the chair for the same amount of minutes as their age. So a 2 year old would sit for 2 minutes, and after the time was over, the parent who punished the child would ask for an apology. (In case you’re wondering what to do if the child keeps getting off the chair, you put them right back on.)

While we were watching the show, Omair and I thought that this would never work with us. We thought that every time we put Iman on the “naughty chair” she would keep coming off. I can’t imagine a 2 year old sitting down for 2 while minutes against their will.

So here’s our Super Nanny story…

Yesterday Omair was showing Iman a video on our digital camera. While she was watching herself on the little screen, she started getting goofy and was mishandling the camera. So I came down to her level, made eye contact, and in a firm voice, told her sit down and look at the video, otherwise the camera would break. She went and sat down, but a little while later; she got back up and started swinging the camera around again. This time before I could make it to her, the camera slipped from her hand and landed smack on the floor! For us this was a milestone moment, because we didn’t believe in using “active discipline” with Iman until now. Both Omair and I felt that there is no reason to punish a child who doesn’t know right from wrong. So here I was, looking into the huge eyes of my (almost) two year old, who was standing there quiet, because she knew what she had done was wrong. While maintaining eye contact, I told her that I had given her a warning, and now it was time to sit on the naughty chair (we had one, just never used it). I put her on… and she came off. So I put her on again, this time telling her that she will NOT get off until I come to get her. AND… she got up again! Soooo… I put her back again with the same warning. And this time… SHE STAYED ON!!

And after the grand 2 minutes, I asked her for an apology… and she said “Sorry Mommy” and then gave me hug.

Since then, she’s looked at the videos in the camera, but only sitting down.

I can’t believe it worked.


At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The approach might have worked, but it can breed rebellion too if used often.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger DariushAlavi said...

Well done, Hina! And don't forget to praise Iman for watching the videos 'properly'. I'm sure you won't forget, anyway.

As you know, in my day job, I come into contact with countless children who have been severely messed up by parents/other adults/society etc etc. And one of the reasons for this is that they were never brought up with clear, FIRM, consistent ideas of right and wrong.

Although they may not know it, children desperately want and need to be given explicit, unambiguous guidance about what is and is not considered acceptable behaviour. I'm not a parent myself, but I think this must be one of the hardest aspects of the job because it takes a tremendous amount of energy, self-discipline and patience to set clear boundaries and to set them in the same, unequivocal way time after time. And I think it's also crucial that after the punishment has been completed, everything goes back to normal and the naughty incident isn't brought up again or referred to later.

Iman may well be naugthy with the camera at some point in the future, but then you'll just have to step right back in there with a suitable punishment... and so it'll keep going until Iman's well into her teens! But somewhere, deep down, she will be grateful for the fact that she knows exactly where she stands with you and her Dad.

Personally, I think it's a bit sad that such parenting/social skills need to be made the subject of TV programmes, but I think that's just indicative of the fact that such skills are in very short supply in the UK at the moment. I guess in the past, 'parenting ability' was something that was handed down from generation to generation, but the decline of extended families means that all this cultural knowledge is being lost. So I guess TV guidance is much, much better than nothing.

Wow, this has turned into a very long lecture. Sorry. Rant over.

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Lorraine said...

"Breed rebellion"...good grief. That's exactly the problem. Children need limits. They are children, not adults and it is our job to teach them. The reason this method works is because it is clear, it is calm, and practised consistently, teaches a child to respect others and understand how their choices affect others.

It is hard to set limits and stick to them. It's the hardest part of parenting sometimes. You want to be the hero all the time but that isn't your job. We are the adults. And we don't have to yell and hit to make the point (THAT is the sort of thing that breeds rebellion...the "because I say so" crap). Firm, consistent, loving discipline is the only way to go.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger DysfunctionaL said...

any kind of a discipline measure if used too often loses its 'purpose' after a while..

be it be threats of punishment, or even physical slapping [which I'm absolutely against].. all turn into false threats that the kids understand if used too often..
and that is a point when they start laughing at ur face everytime u 'warn' them or even 'ask' them to do something.. because they KNOW at the end of the day, the parent will scream after a bit and let me go.. end of story.

hence, the breed rebellion argument is applicable to all sorts of discipline measures.. not specifically the naughty chair.. which i personally feel is a clearer and a more understandable way of telling the kids they're wrong..

At 6:57 PM, Blogger idiot said...

though i don't read your blog regularly i made it a point to visit today.
happy mother's day hinamommy! :)

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I agree with Lorraine. You have to have limits and structure in a childs life. I am a junior high school teacher and trust me...I can tell which kids had structure and limits and consistency at home and which ones didn't. You have to be consistent from the beginning and you have to set limits and stick to them from the beginning, otherwise that is when the rebellion will happen. The students I teach that have no respect for their elders, no respect for school property, no respect for rules, don't care if they turn in homework or not, don't care if they cheat and get caught, etc...are the ones that never had that structure at home. Children crave structure and guidence and when it is not provided, rebelliousness will happen.

Okay...I'm off my soapbox! I love Jo Frost. She is great. We also had another good "nanny" show here called Nanny 911 and it had 3 different british nannies on it. I love watching them. In fact, one of Jo Frost's show's was filmed about 30 minutes from me. Happy Mother's Day Hina!

At 12:27 PM, Blogger arfiman said...

That was a pretty cool story - and surprised that she actually sat there! Well done!

At 8:22 PM, Anonymous y2kmicrochick said...

Hina ....It's true ...I've tried it and it's amazing the naughty stool works! I've been using it almost a year now ... and you know me ...I'm not too fond of harsh punishment .... so this is saved for the 'really bad' stuff. Not only does it work but once when i was upstairs I heard my sister warning Naajia in hushed tones that if she didn't stop doing whatever she was doing "mummy might take you and put you on the naughty stool!!" It works on different levels. Still i have to admit it does have it's flaws. For instance it doesn't work in a moving car. You just can't say "stop that or else when we get home you are going on the naughty stool" They just don't have memories long enough to remember what they did wrong that long. It doesn't work outside the home in general,(parties, the park, shops etc.) DariushAlavi ... Hi ... you don't know me but you won't beleive how easy it is to mess up your kids ....and not only is it hard work ..... you have to muster every last atom of strength to do it close to right. I have new found respect for my father who worked so hard to provide us with so many good things. He's a lovely human being. I think you are right though ....more than anything children need to be communicated to -clearly as to what the boundries are. That and balance. Oh and yes Elizibeth is right ... structure is so important diciplines but also comforts. Hey Hina I finally passed and am a fully qualified montosorri teacher! yey! and there's another programme with a group of nannies on that i like ... forgot the name ... but it has the word nanny in it, look it up it's good.


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