The Naughty Mat

Staying calm and in control while your child learns their boundaries is key, and it helps to be consistent in the way you discipline them. The Naughty Mat is used on the show as an alternative to the Naughty Step when you're out and about and your child's behaviour becomes unreasonable

Sometimes your children can be at their most challenging when you're out and about and your attention is not focused on them. But it can be very difficult to discipline a child when all eyes are on you! If the Naughty Step technique works well in your home, why not try taking a "naughty mat" about with you, so your child benefits from a consistent approach to parenting?

The Naughty Mat is also ideal for younger children from about eighteen months old, who would not be safe or comfortable on the steps or a chair. You might also like the idea of being able to move the naughty spot around your home, so you can keep an eye on your child wherever you are.

How it works

  • When your child misbehaves, explain what they've done wrong, tell them that their behaviour is unacceptable, and warn them that if they behave in the same way again, they'll be put on the Naughty Mat. Make sure your voice remains calm, not angry, and use a low, authoritative tone.
  • Are you somewhere which is particularly triggering the situation? If your child is always difficult in the supermarket or the cafe, try to get them involved more in what you're doing, and make sure you keep communicating. Or is your child tired or hungry? See if you can help resolve their frustration and move them on to another activity, or use the Involvement Technique to diffuse the situation.
  • If they misbehave again, find a suitably quiet corner and immediately put them on the Naughty Mat. Explain clearly why they are there and how long they must stay there (one minute per year of their age). Don't feel shy if people stare - it's much better to calmly use the mat than to lose your temper with your child in public. 
  • If your child comes off the mat, put them back on using gentle but firm movements and keep putting them back on until they realise that you’re committed to keeping them there for the agreed set time.
  • Once your child has completed the agreed set time on the Naughty Mat, crouch down so you’re on the same level, use a low and authoritative tone of voice, and explain why you put them there. Ask them to apologise, and when they do, praise them warmly with a kiss and a cuddle. Say ‘thank you’, go back to what you were doing and forget about the incident.
  • If your child refuses to apologise (or does something like shouts ‘sorry’ in a way which makes you think they probably don't mean it!), continue this technique until they realise that you need a proper apology. But don’t forget the kiss and cuddle at the end!


Related links

Find out more

  • The Naughty Step is now available to buy from Toys R Us and Woolworths. It's easy to use and can be moved around the house - so you can keep an eye on your child whilst they're in time out.

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