On more than one occasion you will have heard the phrase go to the ‘Naughty/Thinking corner’ not only in a conversation with friends as a joke but in a more or less strict educational or school environment. Indeed, this second context is where this concept that causes so much controversy was born. Thinking corner is a tool that has been used for years in schools and homes with the intention that children can regulate, calm down and reflect on the ‘bad behaviour’ they have performed. “This strategy is deeply rooted and widespread in today’s society,” tells Sol Carmona, children’s writer and expert in respectful parenting.
We could then define ‘Naughty/Thinking Corner’ as a popular behaviour modification technique used when children have tantrums or misbehave on a frequent basis. It consists of sitting the child in a corner facing the wall to reflect on what she has just done but is it really something positive that helps change the child’s attitude?
At first glance, the answer would be ‘no’ because this strategy is the closest thing to a ‘punishment’ for the little one, and all we will be doing is transmitting fear and exclusion. We will be separating him from adult attention and prohibiting him from playing, which is his main form of communication during childhood. “Neuroscience has shown that ‘the thinking corner’ is useless and has no basis. A young child does not have the ability to self-regulate on his own. His brain is not mature and does not have the necessary characteristics to be able to achieve this goal” says the expert.
What consequences does the thinking corner have on children?
Although as we say, the ‘thinking corner’ is more oriented towards a punishment that eliminates positive stimuli for the little ones, it is a method that is still used in some educational sectors but, as the expert continues to tell us, we cannot forget that the ‘thinking corner’ “is based on a mistaken idea”, and she explains: “Let’s imagine that a 3-year-old child does not stop moving or getting up while in his class are telling a story (a very normal behaviour in childhood). That child is sent to the thinking corner with the intention that he can calm down and assimilate what he is doing. For it to be effective, that child would have to reach conclusions such as: “I am interrupting the class”, “this is not the time to get up”, “if I want to get up, I must ask for permission” or “I am going to stay still to enjoy the story”.
The reality is that no child can reach these kinds of conclusions, since, as we have mentioned before, their brain maturity does not allow it. What that child really feels or thinks is “I’m bad”, “they don’t like me”, “I don’t matter”. That is why it is so important to know how children’s brains work, because only then will we be able to understand their behavior”, warns the expert.
Therefore, today with all the studies related to the evolution and cognitive development of children, it can be ensured that parenting based on respect and positivity is much more effective for their learning and this is how the expert explains it to us, ” There are other, more respectful ways, in line with neuroscience, that are effective and positive for them. As educators of reference, we are the ones who must intervene and help in this regulation. If we really think about it, no person calms down when they tell us to ‘calm down’ or when they separate us or isolate us; The same thing happens with a child, ”she assures.
Respectful or conscious parenting is based on understanding the behaviour of children, and offers very useful tools that allow education based on respect, kindness and firmness. “We are not talking about children being able to do whatever they want. Affection or calm are not at odds with limits or rules. When we know how to read children’s behaviour, we stop perceiving them as a threat or a provocation. Children constantly speak to us through their actions, which is why observing and understanding their behaviour is so valuable ,” she assures.
How to apply this then?
The expert refers to the example that she gave earlier about the child who kept moving and constantly getting up from the chair in class, and, based on this, the educator proposes some tools that could be put into practice; “The first thing would be to observe the child’s behaviour and ask ourselves questions; ‘Does he usually do it often?’, ‘Is it an isolated event?’, ‘Does he need to be seen?’…”, he questions. And it is important that we take into account a series of concepts;
- Children’s concentration time: “A child of 2 or 3 years has a maximum concentration time of between 8 or 10 minutes. So we must ask ourselves, is the activity we are doing consistent with its concentration time?
- Offer him alternatives such as: letting him move if his body needs it, offering a hug, holding him or being closer so that the child feels seen.
- The Calm Corner: This is a fantastic tool and if used properly helps a lot in the long run.
With a simple change of name, we are already gaining a lot of positivity and predisposition of the little one for much more beautiful and good things to emerge in him, without a doubt.
With the ‘calm corner’, “we try to create a space in a place in the house or in the classroom where we can find calm. Visiting the corner of calm is voluntary, it is not mandatory. It is used by both children and adults. When they see that we use it, they also do it themselves. In this corner, or calm table, we will place cushions to sit on, a small table and a basket with objects that promote calm. The basket can include anti-stress objects (of those that are soft), an hourglass, a sensory bottle, a relaxing instrument, books, shells, photos of relatives or places that we like, flowers or plants. All this set used in the time allows the child or family unit to learn to take time to calm down while keeping your self-esteem intact. It is possible to learn without suffering”, concludes the expert.
This article was originally published on HOLA