An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Gateway behavior to felony assault

Some of you are going to find this utterly monstrous but Leta still sleeps in her crib and not a toddler bed. She hasn’t yet figured out that she can climb out of it, and because of this built-in restraining mechanism she’ll be sleeping in a crib until she’s eight.

Right now the crib also serves as the time-out area for when she behaves badly. We are huge fans of that lovely British nanny on television who enters people’s homes and gives them permission to discipline their children. She’s good because her strategies work and because as an American I find that her British accent makes everything seem more reasonable. And vaguely sexy.

We started using her naughty area technique when Leta started showing signs that she was infected with rabies. I remember the first time Leta ever hit me in frustration. Without hesitation I got down to her level (step one) and then warned her (step two) that she if she hit me again I’d be putting her in her crib for two minutes, one minute for each year of her life. She promptly whacked me in the shoulder again with her little plum fist as if to say BRING IT, PERSON WHO READILY FORGETS THAT MY INFANT LOVE IS CONDITIONAL.

So I put her in her crib (step three) and then left her room and shut the door behind me. Two minutes later I went back into her room and explained why I had put her there in the first place (step four), and then I told her to give me a hug and say she was sorry (step five). In one of my favorite episodes of the nanny show a laughably clueless dad is trying to execute the naughty chair technique on his four-year-old daughter, and after the four-minute time limit he walks over to her and asks her for an apology. She looks up at him disgustedly, cuts him a look through the slits in her eyes that you would normally see from a lion right before it rips the hind quarter off a gazelle, and screams, “I’MMM SORRRRRRY!” He then turns to the nanny and in a moment that beautifully illustrates why she was invited into their home in the first place says, “I can’t tell if she means it.”

Yesterday morning Leta went on a tantrum bender because we wouldn’t let her eat M&M’s for breakfast. We repeatedly had to put her into a time-out because she wouldn’t take our warnings seriously, and once when Jon went back to her room to get her out of the crib she hit him when he asked for an apology. Does this give you a sense as to what we are dealing with, as to the unmerciful will we have unleashed on the world? Because my friend didn’t believe it until she witnessed one of Leta’s tantrums in the flesh, and it was then that she came to the realization that we did many, many months ago: sometimes cannibalism makes sense.

Jon left Leta in her crib for another round of time-out and came back into the living room to walk off some steam. When he told me what had happened I told him not to take it personally because she has done the exact same thing to me. “Leta’s pretty mature for her age,” he said trying to talk through the defeat. “She knows her letters and numbers and all that. I think she could handle it if we added on a few extra minutes to the time-out. Like 45.”

  • MontanaJen

    My parents tell a story of when my aunt came to look after me and my two…ahem…adorable sisters while mom & dad took off for a weekend.

    my older sister is stubborn. with the capital S. auntie wanted her to eat her green beans for lunch. sister didn’t want to. she was five years old.

    she held the green beans in her mouth, refused to swallow them, and auntie refused to allow her to spit them out.

    finally, in desparation, auntie called mom and asked what to do.

    “how long has she held them in there”
    “since lunch”
    “sister, it’s 7 p.m. let her spit”

    i am not looking forward to these battles, i tell you.

  • ktjane

    oh my! what a little stinker! it’s a good thing she is so darn cute!!

  • KellyB

    My oldest is now five. I reeeeeally miss his crib sometimes. It was so cage-like and nice… *sigh*

  • Oh my goodness, supernanny! I love supernanny. I once had a friend from England and I would make her recite the alphabet incessantly just so I could enjoy her sexy accent.

    Leta cracks me up! I love the show when they let you see how the family does once supernanny has left. It’s usually a disaster, and supernanny comes back and tries to get them back to square one- but you can see the parents are thinking the same thing as Jon. A whole day in the naughty spot would do them just fine.

  • Ohh, I have a bit of a crush on Jo Frost – in a strictly platonic way, of course. When she was first on TV in the UK, we watched avidly as she coached and cajoled the parents into doing things her way. There was one especially good bit where one little girl got out of bed about 35 times in a row, and each time the mum put her right back again. By the end, her hair was standing up on end and she looked slightly high.
    ‘Well done!’ Jo said warmly to her, and that was when I thought, I’m hiring a nanny when I have kids. Yes indeed.

  • I LOVE the book “Love and Logic for Early Childhood”. It is because of Dr. Fay (the author) that I have not given my children up for adoption a second time. He would approve of the crib technique.

    Just a hint for when the crib isn’t plausible anymore… a locking doorknob put on backwards (so you lock it from the hallway) works wonders.

  • I’ll never ever get tired of saying it: children, even adorable ones like Leta (I know my personal though not self-made Leta) are and become whatever their parents are and inflict on them. If you expect her to behave, she will. If you expect her to be spoiled, she will. Beware of what you wish.

  • MeganCA

    When my 2 and a half-year old twins started climbing out of the crib we got crib tents. The horror that happened between the climbing out and the tents is too painful to retell here. I wasn’t about to return to sleepless nights so I had, and still have, no guilt. They stayed in the tents until they destroyed them (nice visual) and now we just put them in separate rooms to go to sleep and move them back in their room together when we go to bed.

    Although I haven’t read Alfie Kohn’s parenting book, I can recommend him as a realistic and enlightening resource on discipline. As a high-school teacher in regular and alternative education, I got great results with Kohn and it made me feel good about how I interacted with my unruly students.

  • jb

    Who would give you crap about her being in a crib at TWO?!?!?!!?

    I had to forcibly evict my son from his when he turned 4, telling him that the sticker on the bottom said it was only for ages three and under.

    I say until she’s crawling out of it, enjoy the peace.

  • UpsideUp

    When the Supernanny techniques started to fail me (my twin 3-yr-olds stopped listening to me altogether, and I’m already paranoid that I talk too much…) the book “1-2-3 Magic” swooped in and saved the day. Similar technique to Jo Frosty, less talking.

    The day my girls figured out how to climb out of their crib was a sad day indeed. I’m still a little sad about it. In fact, I’ve gotta go — I just can’t talk about it anymore…

  • literatigirl

    My friend slept in her crib until she was five or six years old: for two reasons; she was tiny though nimble and could climb out whenever necessary; they were poor.

    There’s certainly nothing cruel about it.

  • designermom

    We use the utility room as a time-out spot. It’s totally uncomfortable and boring in there. They hate it! I don’t use their room for time outs because I want them to associate it with happy times.

    My husband thinks the supernanny is kinda sexy too.

  • The only thing the nanny shows do for me is make me go to the kitchen and find the most brutal utensils for a self-hyserectomy because 1) that’s the only pain that I think can take away the pain of that show and 2) because that show makes me never want to have children.

  • lizneust

    We’ve been using timeout with our 27 month old since September and it is WONDERFUL. We have a chair in the corner – one on each floor of the house – and use the oven timer for 2 minutes. Hitting us is an automatic time out, as is hitting the cats, the dog or her new baby sister. Everything else, we try and give her fair warning. We ask her if she wants a time out, and then give her to a count of three to comply. Not sure why, but the count of three has to be loud and firm. This works too, although the sulky “no” and lower lip pout are a RIOT. She actually rolled her eyes at me yesterday – aren’t they supposed to be 10 before they master that skill?

    45 minute time out = early nap. Hmmmmmm I like it, I like it.

  • sa1usa

    So hilarious 😉 Who cares if she’s in the crib until she’s 20 – don’t ‘fix’ something if it isn’t broken. My social worker self has to put in to find a different spot for time out or else you’re going to be looking at sleep issues as well. . .she’ll start making associations with her bed=time out. . . .good luck!

  • bored_in_kansas

    All I have to say is that once I have children I’m running to you and your husband for advise!!!! And that is NO JOKE!

  • Y

    I WISH we had a “naughty chair” growing up because I’m pretty sure that would have been a hell of a lot better than “The Rod of Correction” that hung from nail in the living room with the scripture “Spare the rod, spoil the child” engraved ever so beautifully onto it. That mother fucker HURT, but, the lotion my dad would guiltily rub onto our leg welts kinda made it all better.

  • I love super nanny! It makes laugh ’til I cry when you see “parents” on the show that have never told their kids no!

    My seven year old nephew has progressed to a new stage of the Naughty chair system to the “grab a crack” system. Due to the small nature of his home he is allowed to either sit in a chair in the corner or to stand against the wall facing a crack in the paint.

    Nothing is funnier, when in the middle of restraining your anger over him beaning his 3 year old brother for an umpteenth time, to hear the words “crack or corner” uttered from his mouth.

    Unfortunately his 3-year-old brother is a destructo-bot and the naughty chair system only seems to work successfully at grama and papa’s. My sister has probably contemplated the dryer and nyquil a time or two. [Eventually she settles with a disney movie and tub of ice cream.] Oh the insanity of it all!

    Sometimes I am just a little nervous about treading into that parent world!

  • JodiG

    My little loved one (almost 2) throws her arms in the air and then her head, falls to her knees and then lays on her belly pounding the floor with her fists. I imagine her saying, mama, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? I haven’t tried time out yet, but I just go into the other room and usually she gets distracted by something else. I am amazed by my tolerance for load pitched wailing. When my Mom would call timeout she would lock herself in her room and us kids would knock on the door and plead for her to come out. Don’t you feel like you are making the whole parent thing up each and every day? I love Supernanny, although when my sweet one watches it with me, I am afraid she will pick up some “naughty” habits.

  • Mia and Leta are just a month or so apart, and all I can say is that we drink alot of Tecate at our house right now.

    Straight up, without lime. (We are saving the tequila shots for potty training)

    Evenings are the worst. She just can’t keep up with her brothers, and she disintegrates into a writhing mass of screams right as I am fixing dinner. The Witching Hour.

    If the experience of having 4 kids has done anything, it has shown me that ‘This to shall pass.’

  • rem

    three words: REMOVAL OF TOYS.
    Time outs stopped working my (now) four year old grew out of her crib.
    when ever she is bad, I tell her she doesn’t act like a good girl, she doesn’t deserve her toys, and take them away. (I put them in a garbage bag for drama then hide them for a week until she is good).
    one week she was so bad, that she only had 3 stuffed animals left. thats when it started working.
    all I have to do now is say “I am getting the garbage bag” and she smartens up, usually. it also gets her cleaning her room. like a charm.

  • nopenname

    I think we just got lucky but we transferred ours to a toddler bed when she was 11 mo. old, had never climbed out of the crib, but the crib was huge and I hated it, and Lis was sleeping through the night no problems every night for the last three months when I put her down in her bed.

    She is 2 1/2 and STILL does not get out of her bed. She calls for me when she wakes up “Mama come wake me UP!”

  • Sunni

    duchessjane said at 06:25PM, 03.28.2006:
    When my parents sent my brother to his room for time-outs, he would always lay on the floor with one hand in the hallway in defiance. When Mom would shut the door, he’d sneak one little finger out beneath the door.

    OMG, that is hilarious.

    Heather…beware…I think the “trying threes” are much worse than the “terrible twos”. Our naughty mat has a bit of wear to it.

  • Mellissa

    Welcome to the world of parenting girls, Dooce ; ) My daughter is almost 4 and it shows no signs of improving. For the record, she JUST got a toddler bed. We kept her in a crib for over 3.5 years!!! I adore your parenting as it is so like mine, LOL!

  • MommyofOne


    You SHOULD NOT have written that Leta has not attempted to get out of her crib yet. Because you’ve now jinxed yourself and you’ll be writing in about a week telling us about the drama of transitioning her to the big girl bed.

    At my dd’s 2nd birthday/well child check up I smugly told the doctor that we didn’t have her in a big bed because she’d made no attempts to get her out of her crib thus far. Within the week she started climbing out and falling into a heap on the floor. So we had to move her. But I was ready to let her stay in that crib until adolescence if she wanted to.

    Our transition to a twin bed was smooth and effortless. All that worry for nuthin. Here’s hoping the same happens for you!


  • My middle child, and only girl, HATED her crib. She didn’t even get to the climbing out stage because every night when we put her to bed she’d projectile vomit all over it. We’d go in seconds after hearing the eruption and she’d be standing there with a big smug smile on her face and her arms stretched up, ready to be picked up.

    This little power struggle didn’t last long before we let her have a Big Girl Bed in her brother’s room. She never puked in bed again.

    I am SO afraid of what 14 is going to bring….

  • shredbettie

    Apostrophe alert! Apostrophe alert! M&Ms are not possessing anything in this case, nor are we contracting “M&M is” so there should be no apostrophe between the second M and the S. Plurals simply add an S, even if the plural object is in all caps. Just thought you should know.

  • patty

    Oh, how funny – and all SO true! We’ve raised 3 girls – an extremely self-willed 23 year old and an easy 20 year old and are now raising a 3 year old granddaughter. And all I can tell you is just hang in there and keep laughing. I always said if I could give them to someone else between the ages of 3 and 6 – the years when you have to socialize them – I would. After 6 it’s easier – they’re smarter and just as stubborn – but their communication skills and sense of time make it easier to bribe them. Right now – with Lily – she just doesn’t get that if she’d just stop screaming and hitting, time out would END!

    And by then they recognize “the look”, too – the one that means “you are SO DEAD if you don’t stop RIGHT NOW”!

  • Ha! I think my parents need to see this post. It might make them feel better about the fact that when I was 5, I punched my dad in the stomach when he wouldn’t let me have ‘Nilla Wafers for dinner (he’d tapped me lightly — his version of spanking — and I said, “you don’t hit me!!”). After I punched him, though, I apparently looked horrified and went to hide in my toybox in my closet. When I left the room, my mom said that her and my dad laughed until they cried and that my dad said, “well, nobody’s going to fuck with her, I guess”.

  • I haven’t seen the Supernanny, but the woman who babysits our two-year-old does and she’s passing things on to me by example. She’s the “good” mom in our relationship. See I would have given Leta the M&Ms right from the start … but then again I know there is no end to the battles – if it wasn’t the M&Ms it would have been the not wanting to leave the television by itself battle, the not wanting to take a bath battle or the not want to get in the carseat battle. It sounds like you are choosing yours much better than I am choosing mine.

  • I LOVE that Nanny show, too… and I don’t even have kids. Or maybe I love it BECAUSE I’m childless and have often wondered why more parents don’t make an effort to curb their children’s less socially acceptable behavior. Letting children have their way all the time can’t possibly make for healthy adult behavior. We all have to learn about boundaries and limits.

    I can’t help wondering if the crib… where she sleeps… is the best place to use for a “naughty time out”. Maybe she’s getting too used to it and that’s why it’s not working so well? Maybe she needs a chair or a stair or some other place in the house? Just a thought.

  • My middle child, and only girl, HATED her crib. She didn’t even get to the climbing out stage because every night when we put her to bed she’d projectile vomit all over it. We’d go in seconds after hearing the eruption and she’d be standing there with a big smug smile on her face and her arms stretched up, ready to be picked up.

    This little power struggle didn’t last long before we let her have a Big Girl Bed in her brother’s room. She never puked in bed again.

    I am SO afraid of what 14 is going to bring….

  • The Nanny 911 lady is absolutely amazing – and her suggestions are so simple it is amazing it took this long for her to have her own show. My 16 month old niece is in the tantrum phase already, and we have come to the conclusion that she may never stop with the tantrums. You can just look at her the wrong way and she goes into spastic fits wherein she arches her back, throws her head back, plummets to the floor, and starts screaming bloody murder. Then after a while, she is back to her normal self, all smiley and chirping and singing, as though nothing happened. We do everything we are supposed to – put her on the couch to sit for one minute, but damn it one minute is NOTHING and she is still screaming at one minute.

    That is great Leta is still in a crib – my niece crawled out of it and onto her changing table last month and is already in the toddler bed. It makes me sort of sad, really! So relish this time wherein Leta knows nothing about how she can escape the crib! You are so lucky!

  • Meg

    Oy vey. My parents used to leave me in my crib until I audibly promised to be cheerful. And if they came and got me and I wasn’t? Right back in. I don’t think kids see their crib as a jail when they’re sleepy. I think they just see it as a jail when they want out. And you know what? It IS. YOU ARE IN JAIL UNTIL YOU SLEEP. If only it were so easy for real criminals:).

  • Bwahahhaha! I love the “let’s add 45 minute” comment. How I love me some Super Nanny and the super sexy British accent. Oh yeah. Too bad it’s on Friday nights now when I’m in class. 🙁

  • MichelleLopresti

    Oh boy, she sounds as strong willed as my son who turns three in a few weeks. A few months after he turned two, we felt we were losing control over his tantrums and nothing we tried worked. Then we heard about the book “1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12”. We got the book, both read it, and started the technique they described immediately. Within a week we noticed a huge change in our household – it was a much more sane place, and the tantrums were subsiding. We’ve continued to use their technique (which is basically a time out, but with more focus on taking out the emotion the parent brings to the table, and less focus on dwelling on the bad behavior after its happened) and we’re very happy with the help the book leant us in dealing with the bad behavior outbursts.

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments to this post, so sorry if someone else already recommended this book. Its on Amazon for @$10 and its worth every penny. The key is for both parents to read it and then implement it consistently.

    Good luck!

  • novelle

    Hell, I’d use a crib to give my husband a time out if it was socially acceptable. God knows I have to ask for an appology sometimes. Or vice versa.

    Think the nanny can invent a five-step program for spouses?

  • JennJenn

    Super Nanny Rocks!

    My good friend and I watch that show (and BIRTHday and other birthing shows) as a means of birth control.

    Seems to be working, we’ve never gotten pregnant!

    I think my favorite parts of the show are usually when the child is running around and the parent is completely incapable of catching them and in a moment of sheer frustration looks at Jo-Jo and says, “NOW what am I supposed to do?!”

    Let the kid run in the street.

    A little head to SUV bumper action should teach him pretty quickly.

    Kidding……….sort of.

    LOVE DOOCE!!!!

  • I applaud your willingness to discipline your child. I also don’t think it’s appalling that Leta still sleeps in her crib. As long as she hasn’t outgrown it and its not dangerous, does it really matter where she sleeps?

  • Deb

    Hey Heather,
    Leta is adorable, I loved hearing her “shoshun”. One of my girls has a speech issue and we hate having to change it b/c it is so damn cute! My favorite was “fucky fried chicken”!
    Yesterday on comcast where I get my Broadband and email, the headline “Six-Toed Cat Attacks Avon Lady” caught my eye. Immediately, YOU came to mind, so here is the story in case you are interested. Not as exciting as the teaser headline, but still comical and fitting for you!

    Crazy Cat Terrorizes Connecticut Town
    By Associated Press
    4 hours ago

    FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Residents of the neighborhood of Sunset Circle say they have been terrorized by a crazy cat named Lewis. Lewis for his part has been uniquely cited, personally issued a restraining order by the town’s animal control officer.

    “He looks like Felix the Cat and has six toes on each foot, each with a long claw,” Janet Kettman, a neighbor said Monday. “They are formidable weapons.”

    The neighbors said those weapons, along with catlike stealth, have allowed Lewis to attack at least a half dozen people and ambush the Avon lady as she was getting out of her car.

    Some of those who were bitten and scratched ended up seeking treatment at area hospitals.

    Animal Control Officer Rachel Solveira placed a restraining order on him. It was the first time such an action was taken against a cat in Fairfield.

    In effect, Lewis is under house arrest, forbidden to leave his home.

    Solveira also arrested the cat’s owner, Ruth Cisero, charging her with failing to comply with the restraining order and reckless endangerment.

  • My daughter slept in her crib until she was 3. The only reason we finally converted to a toddler bed was that she was just getting too heavy to haul in and out of the crib. She never tried to climb out and she slept great — so why fix what ain’t broke!

    She loves to watch those nanny shows with us. We take great pleasure in the badness of the kids on the show. She loves to say things like, “I’m never that bad … am I?”

    Yeah, we like to bond at the expense of others.

  • Thank you for the much needed reminder to have at least a little bit of a sense of humor about living with a toddler. I’d forgotten, and have been taking everything much too personally.

  • Kenny’s Mom

    “Love and Logic” RULES for those who ascribe to the time out school of discipline. I believe in it with every fiber of my being.

    We started time outs using Love and Logic ( when our son turned one. He’s 20 months now, and we have been through the hitting and biting phase (succesfully quelling it through three months of constant repetition of “TIME OUT! We are NICE only, we don’t hit/bite!”).

    Now, we can see when he’s thinking about hitting, he stops before he actually gets the motion going and says to himself, “No, no! Niiiiiiiiiiiice.” It’s so hard NOT TO LAUGH!

    It’s even harder not to laugh when he self-polices, putting himself in time out for something he knows he’s not supposed to do.

  • SO NORMAL! she is separating her identity from yours, and its like, a preview for puberty, when they do it all over again, except with sarcasm.
    My son, who is six, learned the technique early from my daughter, who is going on 14. Be glad she is the oldest. Its a clean slate.
    Here’s what I think….girls need some attitude in this world. Stubborn women generally do not allow themselves to be oppressed, eh? No BYU for Leta!

  • Part of me is amazed that Super Nanny has reached the states. Part of me isn’t, given how AWESOME she is. What I can’t understand is you guys importing Anne Robinson to present your version of the Weakest Link. Inexplicable.

  • Susie

    Heh. I’m sorry to say it doesn’t really get much better as they get older. One day when I was little, my older brother told my father “Go fuck yourself.” My dad, naturally, lost it and told my brother that he must treat his father with respect, to which my brother replied “You’re absolutely right. Please go fuck yourself.”

  • Once when I was four my mother told me that if I tried to pick up the baby (my brother was about a week old) one more time that I would spend either a) the rest of the morning in my room if it was before noon, or b) the rest of the afternoon in my room until my dad got home from work if it was after noon. I tried to pick him up at 12:05 and my dad was late coming home from work that day. I spent the entire afternoon at the edge of the entrance to my room asking if it was time to come out yet. But, I never tried to pick up the baby again without asking my mom if it was okay.

  • “Sometimes, cannibalism makes sense” … that’s hilarious. I wonder if crocodiles eat their slowest offspring, or the most poorly behaved?

    How do y’all feel about spanking? It worked on me when applied sparingly. But what works for one SUCKS for another…just curious.

  • regarding Nomad in Comment 55: I have two cats, too, and i DO put them in timeout. The youngest one is 6 months old and is completely bouncing off the walls. 5 minutes locked in the bathroom and he calms down!

  • Daisy

    We’ve been using the Naughty Chair/Spot technique since my daughter was about 18 months old. She seems to get it. I can’t believe she will actually sit in the chair for 3 minutes and say she is sorry. I wouldn’t…haha!

    I think your technique is great but as a PP mentioned I wouldn’t use her crib though. That’s her safe sleeping place. But that’s up to you.

    Her still sleeping in her crib doesn’t bother me either. My daughter would still be in hers if she didn’t vault herself out of it at 18 months! Couldn’t keep her in it to save our lives. She’s now moved on to a twin sleigh bed…thanks to grandma! haha!

    Keep up the good work!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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