Globe Syndicate

for release Friday December 9, 2005

Another Way

by Melodie Davis


Top Ten Tips from Super Nannies

Perhaps the Christmas season is a bad time to talk about child discipline. While some kids are “extra good” during December hoping Santa will come through for them, even the most well behaved, disciplined child will occasionally have a meltdown given the excitement of Christmas, naps and bedtime schedules turned upside down, meeting distant relatives, being expected to be nice, and too much candy.

However, there is a lot of help out there and maybe a quick look at “secrets of super nannies” will prevent one tantrum. If so, this column is well spent! Or, perhaps it will give you something to think about for “after the holidays” or maybe even New Year resolutions regarding your goals for a smoother and more fulfilling family life.

I find it very interesting that the British are regarded as some kind of model here, given that four British women are featured as the experts in Fox’s “Nanny 911” show, and another stars in ABC’s “Supernanny.” Now I get word that a third reality show from a production company called BBC America is coming out with a new show, “Little Angels” featuring Dr. Tanya Byron, also a Brit.

So it was reassuring when a recent episode of “Supernanny” featured British families with problem kids. Or problem parents. If you’ve seen any of these reality shows, you know that the parents are as much to blame as the kids. I see past shadows of myself in some of the shows.

That said, I have seen valuable parenting lessons painted by the case histories presented. Here are some quick lessons to remember:

  1. Children need a certain amount of structure and routine. I don’t know how I would have made it without regular nap and bed times. I know, some kids refuse to nap, starting when they are very young. But they can be required to have quiet time or room time, playing quietly without bothering you.
  2. Children (like all of us) benefit from rewards for good behavior. If there are bad behaviors you’re trying to eliminate, try charts, stickers and small prizes for good behavior. (A neat new resource, Spintastik, has a spin chart to assign chores and designate rewards. See
  3. Children benefit from the active and involved parenting of both mom and dad.
  4. Children younger than ten shouldn’t have TVs in their own rooms. Or if they do, severely limit and control when they can watch. (Actually none in the child’s room for any age children is good rule too; it depends on families.)
  5. Children shouldn’t be allowed to yell or hit. Ditto for parents. Spanking is a different issue, and should be used rarely (only once or twice a lifetime for most kids when other avenues have not worked. Otherwise you get to the place where spanking doesn’t work either).
  6. Instead, make use of the time out chair, the “naughty chair,” or a quiet corner.
  7. Have logical consequences—when possible—for misbehavior. They make a mess, they clean it up, etc. Dr. Charles Fay of the Love and Logic institute gives one logical solution for when an appropriate consequence is hard to find, such as the “energy drain.” This consequence requires an older child to replace energy drained from the parent by the child’s misbehavior. “When you lie to me, it drains all my energy. How are you going to put that energy back?” The child can do chores to put your energy back, or pay for a babysitter so the parent can rest or have free time, or if all else fails, sell a favorite toy to pay for the “energy drain.”
  8. Parents and children need fun playtime together. The good times help kids want to be good—in order to enjoy more fun times.
  9. Children benefit from firm, authoritative parents (not mean, but firm). Parents need to take control. Use a voice that commands authority. Children find a certain amount of comfort in knowing that they have someone they can lean on who will make a stable environment as they struggle through the growing up years.
  10. The last suggestion is my own; I haven’t seen it presented in the shows. Make God a part of your family life. Like #9, children will find a certain amount of comfort in knowing they have someone they can lean on.

For a Christmas gift from Another Way, you can write for a free copy of “Going on an Advent Prayer Journey.” Write to: Another Way, Box 22, Harrisonburg Va., 22802, or e-mail (Please include your paper's name in your response.)

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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.


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