The Naughty Step

You are here

We are all familiar with the naughty step which may also be a naughty chair, spot, or corner. It is a designated area where the child is made to sit alone for a set period of time (usually one minute for each year of the child’s age), until he or she is ready to rejoin the family or group and behave. Many parents, carers, childminders and nursery schools use the naughty chair and find it works well. It allows the child to take time out to calm down and reflect on his or her bad behaviour. It also reinforces in the child’s mind that he or she has been naughty and their behaviour is unacceptable.

If you are already using the naughty step method for disciplining a child and it is working, and everyone connected with the child is happy with it being used then fine. As with all child-rearing advice it’s advisable to use what we feel comfortable with and what works for us and our child or children. However, if you are not already using the naughty step or feel uncomfortable about using it then maybe you should consider my reasons for not using it:

  • Repeatedly having to return a child to the naughty step if he or she climbs off can turn into confrontation and an issue in itself.
  • The procedure has an uncomfortable ring of the Victorian classroom about it, where a child was singled out and humiliated by being made to stand in a corner or on a chair in front of the class as a punishment.
  • It is demeaning for the child to be singled out in a negative way, particularly in front of his or her siblings or peers.
  • It draws attention to negative behaviour whereas it is usually best to ignore negative behaviour as far as possible and reward good behaviour. • It can easily be viewed by the child as a game, where the child jumps off the spot when the carer’s back is turned.
  • Having to return the child repeatedly to the naughty spot is another stress for a carer who is already having to deal with the child’s challenging behaviour. If the child is in the frame of mind to complete the request to go to the naughty spot the first time, and stay there until the time is up, then he or she is unlikely to need this form of discipline in the first place, as the child will already be obeying his parents or carers.

Instead of the naughty spot, I use a technique called the 3Rs - rewarding all good behaviour and applying a sanction if the child persists in the bad behaviour, which I explain further in Happy Kids. What are your thoughts and experiences of using the naughty spot?
Cathy x (