My heart sinks when I see the “Supernanny “series listed in the TV guide. Her way of dealing with children’s behaviour isn’t helpful. I realise that this may come as a surprise to many people because what she does seems to work. What it actually does is create more problems that will surface later on. The parents who relied on her will be left sadly confused and disappointed because they don’t understand their children.

What is Supernanny doing wrong? She is using a behaviourist approach. In other words her approach believes there is nothing to human beings other than their behaviours. Behaviourism excludes looking at what behaviour really is. She also reinforces the culture of labelling with her use of the term “naughty”.

How should we look at our children’s behaviour? Well, children are small human beings. Why they behave the way they do is the same as why adults behave the way they do. We all behave in the way we have learned will get our needs met. We all have needs. In 1943 Abraham Maslow the psychologist wrote a defining work on needs. By his definition we all have physiological needs (e.g. water), safety needs (e.g. physical security), belonging needs (e.g. friendship), status needs (e.g. respect) and self-actualisation needs (e.g. creativity). When any of these needs is unmet it will give rise to feelings, and lead us to behave how we know our needs will be met.

What is all that psychobabble about? Basically if a toddler in the supermarket needs sleep he will feel tired and will behave in the best way he know to get home to his cot for a nap. Probably he will scream, cry or whinge. His behaviour is not “naughty”. It is his way of expressing what is wrong. The solution – only take a toddler to the supermarket when she’s been fed, has a drink handy, has something to keep her amused and has had a nap.

What is the problem with naughty? It is a meaningless label. It doesn’t tell a child specifically what they have done that we don’t like. If a child doesn’t know exactly what it’s wrong to blame them for doing something we didn’t like. The use of labels is great for jars and parcels, but not for people. Calling a child naughty, clumsy, selfish, greedy, etc. is potentially damaging. Remember the old adage “Give a dog a bad name and hang it”? That’s what labelling does to people. It creates poor self image and low self esteem.

How do I find the right parenting expert and become a perfect parent? The expert on your child is you. Perfect parents were invented by advertising agencies. There are books that will help you be a good enough parent, and I recommend any by Steve Biddulph. There are also parenting coaches and classes you can find via the internet. Ask if they take a humanistic approach so you can avoid the trouble with Supernanny.

Author's Bio: 

Michele Rickitt is a life coach, NLP practitioner and workshop facilitator who has extensive experience of working with parents. She has a son with Asperger's Syndrome, and that led her on a journey of personal growth and develop that she enjoys sharing with others.