Alfie Kohn on "Supernanny" - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-23-2005, 03:32 PM
 
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I finally watched Supernanny after having it recommended to me by so many people. I HATE the idea of a naughty corner. That is setting up a power struggle on purpose - and one that will have to become physical. How many kids would actually sit in a naughty spot without getting up? I'd have to physically hold my daughter down, which is just as physical and wouldn't be any better than spanking. Nope, not gonna happen.

She does seem to have a good suggestion here and there but it's covered up by assuming all children are the same and will respond to the same things the same way, and even that they are behaving in a particular way for the same reason every other kid "misbehaves."

The children I've seen on those shows are victims of neglect. They don't need punishment, they need just involved parents. Preferably involved in a positive way.

Well that's one opinion anyway.
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Old 05-23-2005, 07:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by m0mmaw0lf
This may seem like a dumb question but for those of you who feel the "naughty corner" is a bad idea, why do you feel that way? How do you think it is different than a "time out" and do you think "time outs" are a bad idea too? If so, then what do you do instead?

Explaining before and after why the punishment is being issued (with the "naughty corner") always seemed like a good idea to me. But I'm always interested in how other parents - particularly AP parents - deal with "discipline." And how maybe I could do it better. So I'm just curious.
My DD is only 12 months, so she's too young to have had any discipline issues yet, but I can tell you what I plan to do when she gets bigger. I do believe time-outs are a bad idea most of the time. Why not just talk to the child and explain to them why what they have done is not okay and tell them a better way to handle whatever the situation was next time around? Why do children need to be punished at all? There is a TON of research on why time-out is a bad idea, but I don't have time to give links right now. I'm sure someone else will.... Regarding calling a time-out the "naughty" place. That is just disrespectful. Children should *never, never* be made to feel ashamed as part of discipline. The purpose of discipline is to teach children, not to shame them into doing the right thing, which isn't teaching them anything. Imagine that next time you and your DP got into a fight that was *your* fault and he went and told everyone what an idiot you were in an effort to shame you into not making the same mistake again. Calling time-out the "naughty" place is the same concept. Plus, it's basically telling kids that they are naughty when you send them to a "naughty" place. Kids aren't naughty. Period. They just make mistakes.
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Old 05-23-2005, 08:01 PM
 
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m0mmaw0lf: naughty chair = shaming; shaming is a nasty way to treat anybody, even a child; it's also totally ineffective for anything other than teaching kids how to jump through specific hoops; internal motivation to be good, helpful, etc does not come about by shaming

and yes, i think timeouts are just as bad. they use attachment as a weapon, separation is the punishment. they also teach nothing to the child about problem solving, etc.

if you want to know how to raise kids without punishment or rewards just stick around this forum. there are also many good books and websites.

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Old 05-23-2005, 08:06 PM
 
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ITA with PP. I also wanted to add that time outs are withdrawal of love. Basically, it is an attempt to manipulate a child into acting the way one wants by refusing to give them love until they do.

Time out's are also punitive and arbitrary. They rarely are in any way related to the actual behavior the parent is trying to correct.
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Old 05-23-2005, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm embarrassed to admit that I've watched more than my fair share of the nanny programs. It's like watching a train wreck--I don't want to, but I can't stop myself. The thing that struck me first & foremost was the "naughty mat" techniques. It just makes me cringe everytime.

I wouldn't hit my children, ever. Nor would I hit any adult, ever. I wouldn't shame an adult if they did something that I didn't like. Why would I do that to my child?
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Old 05-24-2005, 01:39 AM
 
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Piglet68,

I would like to know alternatives to punishment or rewards. I am not saying that I am an advocate of the naughty corner or time-outs, but I seem to be constantly searching for ideas that don't involve these things. I have read the Sears books about discipline and development. I did not find his books terribly helpful when I got to the point where I realized that I needed to figure some of this out. I'm still trying to figure out what works. As I'm sure I always will be (because just when you think you've got it figured out it changes, right?!)

As for explaining things to DD (as suggested by Richelle) that is what I do all day long. I am constantly explaining to DD - I think it's really valuable. I defintiely believe that children should be treated like people, with respect and compassion. But there are times when it is impossible to rationalize with a toddler. That's why I asked the question - to get ideas about what to do when those times are happening. I admit, I have used the naughty corner (VERY rarely) but realized that it is not in line with how we are raising DD. I just never saw the shame part of it, so thanks for the feedback.
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Old 05-24-2005, 08:13 AM
 
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The nanny shows have recently come to Australia, and I've found this discussion very interesting, as I co-administrate an Australia AP board, and we have beginning to have similar discussions there... Lots of good points here, especially about the WHY of AP vs. the WHAT of AP (Gentle Discipline isn't just not smacking and yelling, imo)...

About the 3 year old boy who was clinging to his mum (apparently all day, according to the editing)... As a Child Development specialist, I can say that that reflects some sort of mal-attachment, there was definately an issue there. However, Supernanny didn't delve into the issue on the show. She saw that the clinging was upsetting mum, and so deemed it "wrong" and "bad" behaviour on the child's part, but no reference was made the fact that apparently the child spent a lot of time in childcare throughout the week, and perhaps had issues to deal with due to this seperation. Also, different children have different sensitivities, and while for example, my 5 year HATED being seperated (even by a few metres) from me as a baby, my 3 was a little roamer and explorer, so I had to be more sensitive to my older sons needs for the little bit longer it took him to adjust to a new situation (he is still a kid who likes to slowly warm up to new situations while his brother jumps right in, but given 10 minutes to warm up, he's just as enthused as his brother to join in)... Anyway, these nuiances were not explored in that episode.

About the "naughty" corner, and "time outs". We have used "time outs" in our house, but they are not punitive or used to shun the child, in fact, we have taken our children into time outs just as you would in basketball. You remove the child from the situation and comfort them to a point where they are calmer and able to cope better with the situation and are open to listening to advice on how to handle a situation. Time out, is then in essence, a break from whatever was causing the escalated emotions that led to the behaviour you want to address. Punitive time out and naughty corners/chairs/mats etc. are a way of ostracising the child. By shunning the child you definately send the message that the behaviour is unacceptable, but you do not equip the child with the skills to handle the situation differently. You also fail to acknowledge how the child is feeling. Thus, you lose the opportunity to convey compassion and understanding. If you want your children to show others compassion and understanding you need to model it yourself. Compassion is not conditional. The Supernanny's brand of compassion is conditional, I will listen and I will hug you when you behave in a manner I find acceptible...
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Old 05-25-2005, 04:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claudette
About the "naughty" corner, and "time outs". We have used "time outs" in our house, but they are not punitive or used to shun the child, in fact, we have taken our children into time outs just as you would in basketball. You remove the child from the situation and comfort them to a point where they are calmer and able to cope better with the situation and are open to listening to advice on how to handle a situation. Time out, is then in essence, a break from whatever was causing the escalated emotions that led to the behaviour you want to address. Punitive time out and naughty corners/chairs/mats etc. are a way of ostracising the child. By shunning the child you definately send the message that the behaviour is unacceptable, but you do not equip the child with the skills to handle the situation differently. You also fail to acknowledge how the child is feeling. Thus, you lose the opportunity to convey compassion and understanding. If you want your children to show others compassion and understanding you need to model it yourself. Compassion is not conditional. The Supernanny's brand of compassion is conditional, I will listen and I will hug you when you behave in a manner I find acceptible...
This is the crux of Kohn's critique, as I see it.


I just bought his book "Unconditional Parenting" today, so I look forward to more of his writing.
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Old 05-25-2005, 06:33 PM
 
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I wish I could anonymously send this article to some of our most conventionally, controlling, time outing, friends and family members.
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Old 05-25-2005, 07:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lyci
I wish I could anonymously send this article to some of our most conventionally, controlling, time outing, friends and family members.
I'll send it. PM me their e-mail addresses...

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Old 05-25-2005, 07:23 PM
 
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he, he, he ICM...!


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Old 05-25-2005, 07:57 PM
 
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Aww, man, I'm a little disappointed. I thought (from the title of the thread) that Alfie Kohn had actually gone on the show! To help Supernanny get a grip on reality, so to speak.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kavamamakava
I actually had a stranger say I needed a Nanny911 intervention because my 4 yr old was crying at dance class.
This, to me, is one of the worst effects of this show. It gives people a quick put down to use to shame a parent whose child is acting NORMAL. When my 2 year old is acting 2, the last thing I need is some stranger viewing a 60 second clip of my 24 hour day with her, and judging my parenting because she is too little for her big feelings.


By the way, does anyone know if Supernanny actually has any children of her own? It's great to swoop in and intrude on some family's life with all the answers when you can go home at the end of the day. But these people have a lifetime of complicated interactions, emotions and memories to contend with.
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Old 05-25-2005, 09:15 PM
 
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No, she doesn't, and in fact, she has categorically stated she never wants children...
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Old 05-26-2005, 12:06 AM
 
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No, she doesn't, and in fact, she has categorically stated she never wants children...
Wow. I wonder why she chooses to work around children, then?
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Old 05-29-2005, 04:44 AM
 
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i watched supernanny twice to really find out what was going on (so i can say yes i have watched it and hate it) and i cannot ever repeat that experience again.

both times i watched supernanny i remember this documentary i watched on children's behav. problem where the parents were feeling out of control. cant remember if i saw it on cable at friends house, or borrowed the video from library but this was a family kinda like the ones on supernanny. of course it wasnt edited to show just the bad behav. anyways i think the psychologists spent a whole month observing the behaviour (bringing them over to the 'lab' and watching them for a few hours everyday) before they agreed on a plan of action. teh POA was to make smooth transitions and assess if both parents and children felt comfortable with the action. so i was one month of observing, then rx and then another month of figuring out what was working and what wasnt. there was no feeling of rush or judgemental behav. in the hour long docum. yes the parents were rich and could afford such a procedure. but it was so much more of a child centered 'remedy'. actually the conclusion was not that the children were demons but what areas the parents needed to improve. they showed how just 5 mins of a parent doing something differently has such a vast impact on their toddler's behav.

for me what is more scary than the tv series is that she has written a book which a lot of parents are buying as their 'bible' for parenting. i sure hope this show is not going to be 'sold' to other countries like 'baywatch' was.

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Old 05-29-2005, 04:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richelle
My DD is only 12 months, so she's too young to have had any discipline issues yet, but I can tell you what I plan to do when she gets bigger. I do believe time-outs are a bad idea most of the time. Why not just talk to the child and explain to them why what they have done is not okay and tell them a better way to handle whatever the situation was next time around? Why do children need to be punished at all? .
i so agree with u. my daughter is almost 3 and i have really never had to discipline her. talking, negotiating works v. well for us. we DO use timeouts though - on me. when i find i am having a bad day and am irritated by every little thing my daughter does i constantly keep leaving the room and calming down so i dont yell which in my daughters book equates to spanking. or we change the environment. we go for a walk or just go outside which certainly takes my irritability away.

yes i am sure others have found times when my dd could be disciplined but i disagreed with them. instead cuddles and explanations worked much better bringing on smiles instead of more tears.

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Old 05-29-2005, 05:00 AM
 
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The time-outs (or time aways) we use with our sons, are not so much because they've done some discrete action that is not ok, but rather when we sense an overall energy eminating from the child that says, "I'm overstimulated, I'm not coping with this situation", and then we take the child out of the situation (with one of us, not on their own) to "regroup"...
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Old 05-29-2005, 12:17 PM
 
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i also loathe supernanny and i am so happy to say that DH hates it and won't watch it ever again, he says. it's wonderful when your partner agrees with your parenting strategies. anyway, i have a LOT of friends who take some of her things as gospel and it's really sad to me. i think that time outs can be done in a non-shaming way like we have heard in this thread and in others on here...i have yet to use one, mostly because i don't think that my 2yo is really ready to understand them yet. i know some 2yo are, but i know my son and i know how his mind works (mostly LOL) and i know that it would just be confusing to him so what's the point, kwim?


BUT i have heard some friends literally say that they use the term "naughty corner" and in her british accent, as if that makes it somehow more lighthearted or something. it's really sad to me. and i'm so sick of cookie cutter parenting shows like this. America values "rugged individualism" so highly, and tries to force independence on children at ridiculous ages yet STILL refuses to believe that each child is DIFFERENT and needs something that is SPECIFIC to him/her. it baffles and angers me.
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Old 05-30-2005, 05:14 PM
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I use time outs on my DD ONLY when she's tantruming and needs time to cool down so we can approach the problem with a calmer toddler. She also has this real horrible habit of bashing her head against solid surfaces *floors, walls, you name it* So I put her on the funky easychair type thing we have *It's a chair, with the ottomon attached and it's real comfy..kinda like a chaise lounge but cushyer* so she can't hurt herself and so she can calm down. But when she pulls a fit at the resource center we go to, I have to acctually HOLD her so she doesn't bash herself. The facilitators are wonderful at helping me diffuse the situation.

But back onto the SN thing. Supernanny is like a mushroom farm. You gotta dig through all the crap to get to the good bits. And sometimes you might find a nice juicy portabello.
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Old 05-31-2005, 08:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by papapoochie
The Nanny shows are really just more mainstream American commercial television. Nothing more than another shock show. It is American pop-culture. Shallow, no substance, edited for one's viewing sensory fix. Did you ever notice the homes in which these parents reside? They are ALL NEW McMansions. The parents are the worst!! Totally lost and clueless on how to parent (hmmm, just like most of the parenting I witness in the real world). The nanny comes in and performs her formulaic behavioral vodoo tricks and cures the kids and parents in a couple of days. Love the thread.
This is what DH said too after we watched it a few times. We both decided that even though it shows us what NOT to do- especially since we are not spineless parents and we do not have a child slugging another child every five seconds- we do not need to watch this sort of tv. Main reason- its after parenting hours are over since dd is asleep and why would we want to see other people's children like this?? I do witness a lot of parenting like that too, but since I have surronded myself with like minded parents, its gotten easier.

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Old 06-01-2005, 02:00 AM
 
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Ok, so i don't get it. We are raising children to become adults. As adults/parents it is not acceptable to raise voices and yell so why is it ok for our children to do so? I realy don't see time outs as bad. If you talk to most adults who are going through a challenging situation - time outs are good. You get a chance to remove yourself from the situation and reflect. After calming down you can then reflect on the situation with less emotion. Teaching children to use time outs can be positive.

Also, one thing that has not been mentioned on this thread is that SN gives out warnings of bad behaviour. If this warning is ignored then time out is used.

And what is wrong with having the child apologize for inappropriate behavior? Children that hit and bite should know that is bad and they should learn to apologize and make peace.

What would happen to society without rules? There has to be some kind of consequence. Without rules and consequences there would be chaos.

Its human nature - Actions are based on gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. Thats it. Its simple.

So i guess i don't understand gentle discipline if it does not involve some sort of consequence. I use the pain/pleasure principle myself
- i excercise, I concentrate on how great i feel when i do
- i fear calling on potential clients, I concentrate on the benefits of when the person becomes a client
- i use consequence for myself ie. if i don't lose x-lbs by x-date then i will post a current bikini photo of myself on my blog.
- i study for exams to do well on them because it feels awesome to get an A and feels awful to do badly.

These are all principle based on Anthony Robbins work and books. These principles have made people extremely powerful and successful.

Children do the same thing. If they know there is a consequence they will refrain from a bad behaviour and will do things that will make them feel good.

I also wanted to add that i do not believe in spanking, yelling or any other abusive discipline techniques. I just don't think that time outs are bad.
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Old 06-01-2005, 02:34 AM
 
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Vegmom, time outs wouldn't be bad if the child chose to take one on their own or if the parent did it in a non-punitive way, but to send a kid to time out for any reason other than to cool off is absurd. For example, child colors on the wall and you send her to time out as a "consequence". What has she learned? Has she learned how hard it is to clean crayon off the wall? No. Has she learned why we don't color on walls? No. Has she learned what is an acceptable coloring surface? No. Instead, she has learned that no one wants to be around her when she makes them mad. A more reasonable consequence would be to explain to her why she shouldn't color on walls, what she should color on instead and have her help you clean the crayon off the wall. Then she has actually learned something useful. Plus, it's a real consequence, rather than a punishment.

Also, forcing children to apologize is absurd, IMO. Children should learn proper social behavior by witnessing the adults in their life use it, not by being forced to do things they don't want to. Furthermore, what is the point in an apology when it isn't sincere? How many times have we seen a sullen child hang their head and say, "I'm sorry," after being coerced into it by their parents? And did any of us ever believe they were actually feeling sorry right at the moment? So then, what did they learn by saying those words? Well, they learned that it is perfectly acceptable to lie as long as the lie you tell is the one that everyone wants to hear. They also learned that it's okay for adults to make them say things they don't want to say, so they feel powerless. They also learned that they aren't really in control of their own feelings, since someone else can make them say they feel something they don't. Are these things really what we want our children to learn? Furthermore, in the end, they probably feel even LESS sorry than they originally may have, just because they're so angry about being forced to say something they don't mean. How would you feel if your husband right now, today, forced you to apologize to someone when you didn't feel like it? Would you be angry? Would you be embarrassed? Would you feel like you weren't in control of your own self? If you don't want someone to do it to you, then don't do it to your children. IMO, it is that simple. I don't want someone telling me to apologize just because *they* think that I should feel sorry. Apologies should *always* be an individual's own choice. Better than forcing a child to apologize would be to discuss with them how their actions may have hurt the other person. Then, if they *choose* to apologize they can actually feel in control and feel good about it. If they choose not to, they're just kids and still have some growing to do. No big deal.
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Old 06-01-2005, 03:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richelle
Also, forcing children to apologize is absurd, IMO. Children should learn proper social behavior by witnessing the adults in their life use it, not by being forced to do things they don't want to. Furthermore, what is the point in an apology when it isn't sincere? How many times have we seen a sullen child hang their head and say, "I'm sorry," after being coerced into it by their parents? And did any of us ever believe they were actually feeling sorry right at the moment? .
I tend to agree about forced apologies. I think a better strategy, if your child does not apologize for something, is to apologize yourself to the offended party. Then you can talk to your child about the reasons we apologize: it makes the other person feel better. If you apologize yourself, it can soothe over the hurt feelings and restore balance, and after all that is mostly what an apology is for. Same thing with "thank you"; you can say, "Wow, that was nice of the girl to share her crackers! Do you want to say thank you?" If your child doesn't want to, you can do it, and then say something like, "It makes the girl feel good when we say thank you for sharing!"

We have modeled these things with dd (just turned 2), said thanks and sorry to her and for her and gently encouraged her to say these things, and she is quite enamored of using her "manners" now.
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Old 06-01-2005, 12:23 PM
 
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I have to admit, folks, I'm a bit torn.

I have seen SN a handful of times, and was horrified at how she threw away a bottle for a toddler (cold turkey) how negative she was about co-sleeping, etc.

BUT... I agree with vegmom in a lot of ways. We use time-outs with our 3.5 yo but only when he does something like hit someone. Sometimes language does not solve the problem. If he were to color on the wall or something, of COURSE we would explain the situation and make him clean it up rather than put him in a time out. We use them rarely, but when it feels like an important distinction.

Honestly, I don't think it's a problem for kids to feel ashamed of certain behaviours. It's our job to help them figure out what makes them feel good (or not). Wouldn't you want your child to feel ashamed of stealing? Or cheating? I'm not talking about silly little stuff here, I'm talking about big-picture stuff. And we never tell him that HE is bad, or that we are disappointed in him, only that he needs some "thinking time" to decide what a better way to handle himself would have been. Then we talk about his feelings (both current and what brought about the behaviour), hug and kiss, and move on with our day.

I also agree that there are other little gems in the show (like showing parents how to play with their kids, getting help when needed, etc), but that the editing is ridiculous. I find it hard to believe that any family dynamics are as bad as they appear on TV. I also wonder what would happen if they gave the families and SN a month or more to work things out. Would she move more slowly? Encourage "weaning" of cosleeping (or whatever) in a gradual, loving way? Basically, that sort of thing doesn't make for good television. Whoever said it earlier was right - it's the McFix that our society has grown so fond of. But I do think that there are some basic things in the show that are right on target. It speaks volumes, I think, that as a society we are turning to TV to fix our families and learn basic parenting skills. Where are our extended communities and families? It's a shame, really...
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Old 06-01-2005, 12:39 PM
 
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Great article. I must admit I watched both shows at first and was fascinated. I began to feel uncomfortable when both Supernanny and the 911 ladies would stop the Mums sleeping with the kids, saying it was unhealthy etc. UGH...I really feel that should be left up to the Mums. They could have made other suggestions, ie putting a mattress on the floor..something.

I do agree with some of the things they enforced, but they seem pretty common sense to me. I don't need to watch a woman with no kids of her own to figure it out.

Lisa: Homeschooling Mum of ds, 8 and dd, 6
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Old 06-01-2005, 12:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by vegmom


Its human nature - Actions are based on gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. Thats it. Its simple.
.

This is not really true. A monkey or dog in a cage with no other stimulus do behave on a pleasure/pain principle under certain circumstances.

However, all of motivational psychology has proven that people are motivated to learn, to grow, to DO things that give their lives meaning. Human beings have complex drives, and pleasure/pain is not very helpful in understanding most human actions.

ALso- there's no evidence that punishments work. They may work short term, but tend to make children more resistant and defiant long term. They also just make kids to stuff behind your back.
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Old 06-01-2005, 03:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by vegmom
We are raising children to become adults.
Yes. The question is, what sort of adults do we hope they become? To me, GD is focused on the long-term goal of allowing children to develop qualities such as empathy, sensitivity, self-confidence, and fair-mindedness. It avoids using strategies that sacrifice the long-term goal to achieve a short-term one. The use of punitive time-outs does not foster character development -- it teaches a child that they are unworthy of a parent's attention, and it sacrifices an opportunity to teach a child what he/she *should* do. There are so many consequences in life that are inescapable (if a toddler throws a toy, he/she may well learn that toys can break) that parents don't really need to subject children to artificial ones.

Please remember that toddlers and young children tend to be concrete thinkers. The examples you give of adult consequences entail an intangible future payoff -- a concept that most children don't grasp until they are several years old. If you simplify the examples to "If I do X, then I get Y," then you can look at the lessons a child might learn from them. If a child is focused on getting or avoiding Y, then X ceases to have value. So, for example, if I want my child to develop empathy, then I want her to see the value in sharing her toys with her brother. If she only shares to get a pat on the head or to avoid a time-out, then she is being cheated of an opportunity to develop empathy. Worse, she is learning to have a me,me,me focus rather than caring about others.

As far as the principles that have made people powerful and successful -- I would need to have a definition of both "powerful" and "successful" to decide how I feel about that. The images I currently have of power and success involve money and exploitation -- not values we have in our family.

And, regarding Supernanny, I am saddened by the entire phenomenon because it seems to discourage thoughtful parenting, regardless of whether one leans toward AP or mainstream practices.
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Old 06-01-2005, 05:54 PM
 
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It speaks volumes, I think, that as a society we are turning to TV to fix our families and learn basic parenting skills.
I’m not sure if that’s what we’re doing. I’d love to see the demographics of that show because the only people I know that watch it either don’t have kids or have older children.

I think this show is a piece of “reality” entertainment…no different from the Swan, The Apprentice, Who’s Your Daddy, The Bachelor and etc.

I don’t believe that this show is motivated in any way by helping parents. Sure, there may be “a gem” in there somewhere…but that could be said for about anything.

Vegmom, there is lots on this forum about punitive timeouts and consequences in general.

I believe that my child’s childhood is her life as much as adulthood is. By US standards, childhood is more than 25% or a person’s life. My main motivation for my child is that she be happy but, at the same time, I know that she is already motivated by things like empathy, responsibility, guilt, love, anger…it’s much more than pleasure/pain.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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Old 06-02-2005, 10:08 AM
 
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No, she doesn't, and in fact, she has categorically stated she never wants children...
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Old 06-02-2005, 11:36 AM
 
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IdentityCrisisMama-
unfortunately, i know SEVERAL women who take parenting tips from SuperNanny. they take the show seriously and implement many of her strategies, the most common one being that "naughty chair/mat/step". and they often use her british accent while doing it.
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