Thursday, 25 April 2013

I'll rather go sit on the naughty step!

A few months ago, whilst I was doing the usual daily chore of tidying up the living room after it had been littered with dolls and toys, I asked my daughter for her help.  She had recently turned two and the reason I had asked her was that she is almost always willing to chip in and help.  Her reply to my request was a surprising one; she nonchalantly replied "no, I'll rather go to the naughty step".  Huh?!? Isn't the naughty step supposed to be a punishment?  Now I've got a situation on my hands, my two-year-old has outsmarted the dreaded (for most kids anyway) naughty step - it was clearly a time of leisure for her (I should really try this with  my wife when she requests my assistance!); a time of R&R.

Needless to say we had to alter our approach to discipline.  This got me thinking about shaping (which I reflected on in yesterday's blog Sunrise with a bit of Jo "Supernanny" Frost) and how we could adapt our strategy to ensure that our daughter still had boundaries.  The whole concept of reward and punishment, along with how children learn to walk and talk, are all based on the principles from behavioural psychologist Edwin Thorndike who spoke of Instrumental Learning.   This type of learning is governed by the Law of Effect.  This law merely states that behaviour which leads to a satisfying outcome tends to be repeated, whilst behaviour that leads to a dissatisfying outcome is unlikely to be repeated.  Obviously depending on the consequences, a behaviour either will or will not be repeated in the future.  This is why little ones push themselves to crawl, walk or say their first words; each of these actions evoke a reaction from the parents.  We get excited (or high-five one another in the case of my wife and I), clap, cheer and express emotions which encourage our children to want to please us again.  Opposite to this is the notion of reducing undesirable behaviours through punishment.


Simple; yet extremely effective!  Now I'm off to the naughty step because I'd rather sit there than do the washing up.



  1. What a fantastic blog daddy Darron! Wishing we had a naughty step in this house, anything to avoid the dirty dishes :-)
    Keep up the good work! x

  2. Thanks for the support :) Hope to see you guys VERY soon!


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