In Emily’s NSW home, her daughter knew if she misbehaved she would be sent to the “naughty spot”.
A parenting decision modeled on the television show “Super Nanny” and the many books released by Jo Frost.
But looking back, it’s a tactic Emily deeply regrets.
“My [15-year-old] daughter tells me she remembers time out as traumatic,” Emily tells Kidspot.
“My heart just sank. To say I felt bad is an understatement. There is regret there. I just wish I had learned the right tools earlier.”
“I’m sure it worked at the time…”
Emily, 45, explains when there were “undesirable behaviors”, her then three-year-old daughter would get the first warning, and then if the behavior continued, would have to go to the “time-out mat” or the “naughty spot” for the length of time correlating with her age—one minute for every year.
She then had to explain why she was sent there, apologize, have a cuddle and move on.
“It definitely upset her,” Emily says. “I’m sure it worked at the time.”
This approach was used for Emily’s eldest daughter approximately one to three times a week from the ages of three to five, but wasn’t used when bringing up her other two daughters now aged 10 and 13.
“I thought it was a tool that seemed to work. I didn’t know any better and I definitely didn’t want to smack them, so this seemed a better option at the time.
“I do feel guilty that she remembers it so well.”
Sadly, Emily admits there weren’t many other “tools” to use to guide their parenting decisions all those years ago, and this wasn’t an approach used on her growing up.
“I had a very patient mother so maybe she just put up with it more than I could have.”
“I wish I had a less punitive tool to use”
In hindsight, Emily understands how this would be “traumatic” for children, especially if the child is sensitive like her daughter.
“She hated getting in trouble—still does at 15—, so in hindsight, I wish I had a less punitive tool to use for her.”
But, Emily has the viewpoint of “what is done is done”, and explains her daughter always had a loving home.
“I’m sure she will be OK in the end,” she admits.
“There is very little advice and support”
On the topic of parenting in general, Emily finds it “fascinating” that you need to study or get a license to operate vehicles or machinery, but new parents are just “sent on your merry way”.
“[You] try and stumble your way through it and hope that in the end, you’ve raised happy, responsible, resilient adults,” she says.
“It’s the most important job that any of us will have and yet there is very little advice and support.”
“We all make so many unnecessary mistakes along the way—if only we as parents are given just some of the tools as part of pre-natal classes or even access to the information after leaving the hospital. I think it would be an investment in society.”
After completing a course on positive parenting, Emily deduced her daughter’s behavior, at the time, could have been triggered by her need for attention while they raised their two younger children.
“A lot of my time was taken up and she just wasn’t getting the undivided attention all kids are hardwired to need.”
Since then, Emily’s parenting style has evolved with the introduction of “special time” with her girls. During this time, they do a task together for just 10 minutes with Emily’s undivided attention.
“My girls loved to do my hair or make-up, dress me up, play with my jewelry together, read books, play games.”
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