Make the Naughty Step Work for You


Thousands of families use the Naughty Step technique with their children. The Supernanny Team answers some questions on the technique raised by parents in our forum.

Your Naughty Step questions answered...

A quick scan of the Supernanny Forum shows how thousands of families are now using – and succeeding - with the Naughty Step technique. Many stories show how this method of time out has transformed children’s behaviour and (alongside some strong House Rules and a good Reward Chart) given exhausted parents a strategy for household peace.

Nevertheless, every child (and every parent!) is different, and the forum threw up some recurring issues with the Naughty Step technique which our team has found the answers to…

He never learns! I put him on the Naughty Step, but he repeats the same behaviour the next day!

Consistency is the key to successful discipline. However you discipline a toddler, he is statistically quite likely to repeat his bad behaviour within two hours, and even more likely to do the same thing again that day! The Naughty Step is more likely to work if all his carers are using this technique and have agreed on House Rules and consequences.

Always remain consistent – if he knows that you’ll give up after 10 minutes of tantrums, he will continue to scream! You may have to put your child on the Naughty Step ten times in half an hour, but eventually he will realise you are serious and stay put.

Remember, your role is to teach that behaviour which you have agreed is bad has real consequences. It gives your child the opportunity to think about his actions, to know the importance of saying sorry and for you both to learn how to move on.

She refuses to cooperate and jumps off the Naughty Step after a few seconds of timeout!

Supernanny Naughty StepStay firm. If your child always jumps off the Naughty Step, continue to put her back, gently but firmly, until she stays for the agreed time – one minute for each year of her age.

The idea of a particular spot, like the Naughty Step, where a child is put for time out is that it should be in a calm place with no distractions. This gives her time to think about what has happened without parents or brothers and sisters bothering her.

Children need an audience for their bad behaviour. If you simply ignore their tantrums, and remain consistent, they will eventually accept the punishment.

My child is nearly six. Is he too old for the Naughty Step?

Every child is different, but for most children, the Naughty Step will continue to be an effective form of time out until the child is about 7 years old. After this age, you could try using an area of the house where they go as more of a ‘chill out zone’, to calm down and then discuss the issue properly. This shows your child you’re giving him space to mature and deal with his feelings as an adult.

What age can I start using the Naughty Step?

From about the age of 3, start trying the Naughty Step technique in conjunction with two or three simple House Rules (for example, ‘no biting’, ‘no hitting’). A Naughty Mat is better for the under 3’s than a step, and it can also be moved around the house, allowing you to keep an eye on your child during timeout.

For very young children, try involving them in an activity or distracting them from what’s going on. Anticipate a problem developing, and simply move them into another room, out of the house or engage them in a new activity.

My child enjoys the Naughty Step, and even goes to sit there on his own!

This is a tricky, but surprisingly common dilemma. Your child is probably testing boundaries, to see how far he can push you.

The key is to remain firm. If he wants to sit on the Naughty Step, let him! But when he’s put on there as a reprimand, make sure he doesn’t get any attention for the designated time period. If he moves away, put him back and re-start the timer. He may like it the first time, but he won’t enjoy being ignored by Mum and Dad for the tenth or twentieth time!

You should also ensure the Naughty Step is located in a quiet place, away from the television, family distractions and toys. If one spot isn’t working, choose a different spot in the house. Sitting in the most boring corner of the house is likely to take away their enjoyment very rapidly!

The Naughty Step works at home, but what can I do when we’re out?

Try the Naughty Mat. If you normally use a Naughty Step at home, a Naughty Mat can act as a portable equivalent. You can even take it to restaurants or on family days out to keep your approach consistent. Find a quiet corner and lay down the Naughty Mat. Explain clearly why she is there and how long she needs to stay. Stay calm and don’t feel embarrassed – other people will be grateful you’re not allowing bad behaviour to continue in public!

Younger children (from about 2 years old) especially will benefit from the consistent approach to discipline, and they can learn about the consequences of their behaviour on the spot, rather than waiting until you return home (when the incident is forgotten). Once they’ve had time out, you can both forget about what happened and carry on enjoying your day.

Consistency, consistency…

Every new rule or discipline technique is difficult at first. Just stay calm, be consistent and remain firm and it will get easier... eventually!

Published by Supernanny Website on 25/06/2014

Related links

  • The Naughty Step: The Naughty Step is used on the show when a child's behaviour is unreasonable and something needs to be done.
  • House Rules to tie consequences together
  • Supernanny Naughty Step - Tried and Tested: We asked four families to try the new Supernanny Naughty Step. Here's what they thought...
  • TV Clip: The Naughty Step: Billy was so badly behaved, his parents were sceptical that this discipline technique would work at all. But, within no time, Billy learns to sit on the step for the full 2 minutes. 
  • TV Clip: Naughty Step in the Jeans Family: The Jeans children are out of control, until Supernanny’s naughty step technique helps their parents rein them in.
  • The Reward Chart is an indispensible tool to encourage good behaviour.
  • No More Tantrums: Parenting and child behaviour expert Eileen Hayes shows how to deal with tantrums and prevent them occurring in the first place!

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