Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Naughty Chair

It seems that Amy has been humbly musing over Super Nanny and the Naughty Chair. I couldn't help adding my 1.5 cents worth over on her blog. Here are my comments:

I'll admit to having watched "Super Nanny" more than once, with my husband even, and I think the show is popular because:

1. It's entertaining. The show is worth watching just to see Super Nanny's priceless facial expressions over the children's horrid behavior.

2. It makes you feel that, even on your family's WORST day, at least your own bunch is far, far more civilized than the children of the desperate family who called in Super Nanny. (Where do they find these families?)

3. It always has a happy ending. Super Nanny saves the day. The children turn from horrid monsters to much more pleasant children. Everyone is happy. Everyone, especially the now kinder and gentler children, hugs Super Nanny and thanks her. Joyous tears all around. Super Nanny rides off into the sunset, ready to help the next desperate family.

Someone asked if time-outs work. I say it depends on the parent and the child. A vague, "Go to your room until you can be nice to your brother!" doesn't seem, IMO, terribly effective, especially if all it means is that Buford gets to sit and play computer games instead of having to deal with the pesky brother who deserved the thrashing he got---at least in Buford's mind.

But I've also observed enough families over the years to echo a friend's question: "Does spanking really work?" she asked incredulously after watching a father remove the same son for spanking after spanking during the course of one church service. My answer was the same: it depends on the parent and the child.

In more than one online discussion, I've heard mothers bemoan the fact that they don't dare spank in public and their children, knowing this, run amok in the grocery store, running, screaming, throwing things, etc. I actually ran this by the stair step brigade some years back and they were simply kerflummoxed. "Well," I urged, "so why did you guys usually behave in the grocery store?"

"Because you told us to."

"Because I told the younger kids about that time that we didn't and you left the grocery cart in the store and apologized to the manager on the way out as you took us all home. We were so ashamed."

Ah, yes. I remember the threats of, "Do we have to leave the store?" worked quite well, even with no spanking awaiting anyone once we left.

But then these are the same kids who never got the fuss over their good behavior when out and about. "How else WOULD we behave?" they would ask me later. "Why did they go on about how good we were? We were just acting normal!"

We have an old family expression for that, you know, I would tell them: "Street angel and house tyrant." They would rise up in arms. Maybe #1 (nicknamed by his sibs "third parent") was a house tyrant, but not The Near-Perfect Child! (BTW, he seems to have outgrown that nickname...)

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