Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Super Nanny I am Not! by Allison Silver
It’s amazing how having a child can change your perspective. Before I had my daughter I was an avid watcher of Super Nanny and endorsed many of her techniques to parents during parent education workshops. My administrator used to refer to me as the “Super Nanny” of the school district! I actually overheard her once tell a family who was having problems, “Don’t worry I’ll have Allison talk to you. She is our Super Nanny.” At the time I was so flattered that she thought so highly of me. But since I have become a mom my attitude has changed completely! Now don’t get me wrong Super Nanny offers some good tips for providing organization to families who need assistance with providing routines and structure. But the way she handles punishment by making a child sit on the naughty step just doesn’t sit well with me, anymore.
Before I had Charley I was an avid supporter of the naughty seat, time-out, and even spanking! I sincerely felt that some children just needed a good old fashioned swat on the behind to get them to cut their behavior. Yep, and this is coming from a person who has extensive education and training in child development. I had read all of the research against spanking but I felt that it had been quite effective when I was a child and I turned out fine, right?
Since Charley was born my attitude about spanking and time-outs has completely changed and I have been doing much more reading about positive parenting which encourages redirection and reconnection. So back to the question, I got spanked and turned out fine, right? Well yes and no. Most people would take one look at me and say you turned out quite well. Your parents must be so proud. But have I really? As parents we want our children to go to college, get good jobs, and marry someone who makes them happy. But don’t we also want our children to learn how to effectively manage their emotions? As a child my parents did the best they could and they used the occasional spanking paired with sending us to our rooms when we acted out. This may have stopped our immediate behavior but it did nothing to teach us how to effectively handle our emotions. If anything it taught me to hit my brother when nobody was looking. Think about it. If you were spanked as a child how do you handle your emotions now as an adult? Do you take a deep breath and count to ten, go for a walk, or start dancing around the house? Probably not! If you are like me you probably yell, shutdown, and then storm off to your room. Why? Because this is what I was taught to do as a child.
It’s important to remember that children are not mini adults. Their brains are developing and they depend on the adults around them to teach them how to deal with their feelings and emotions. Before I had children I viewed all behavior as positive or negative. Now as a mom I view behavior differently. When my daughter tantrums or acts out I don’t see her behavior as being negative or defiant I see it as an opportunity to teach her how to deal with these big emotions that she is having. If I were to make her sit away from me or send her to her room while she is tantruming what would I be teaching her? In the past, I would’ve told you that I would be teaching her that this behavior is not acceptable. But now I see it much differently. If I make her sit away from me when she is upset I am not teaching her at all. Instead my actions are telling her that all of these feelings she is having are bad. In addition by making her sit away from me I’m not giving her any constructive tools to handle these big feelings she is experiencing. If I don’t teach her how to handle these feelings appropriately now how will she learn to handle them appropriately in the future?
Now don’t get me wrong teaching her to handle her emotions effectively does not come easily for me. In fact it can be down right challenging at times. But if I resorted back to spanking what would I be teaching her? That hitting others is an effective way to deal with anger? Don’t we have laws against that? Not only would this be an ineffective strategy but it would also destroy the connection that I have worked so hard to create with her since she was born. I’m not going to throw all of that away! Instead when I notice myself getting frustrated I give myself a time-out! I close my eyes, take a deep breath and count to four. Not only am I modeling a positive way to deal with frustration but it also helps get me out of the “heat of the moment” in any given situation. Any situation can be revisited and most of the time I see it much differently if I just take a few moments to deal with my own emotions. And how can I effectively teach her to deal with her emotions if I can’t even control my own? I might not be a Super Nanny but I definitely think I am a Super Mom!