A recorded discussion concerning discipline and the TV show Supernanny

with: Dana Duer - an artist in the Little City art studio; Palatine, Illinois
Marc Fischer - a studio art facilitator at Little City

Dana: We were watching Supernanny that one Monday night. Here's how it goes: "Don't hit me! Don't you hit me, young man! Stop it! Stop it! I said stop it!" POW! POW! POW! "Don't hit me!"

Marc: Okay, but who was saying that Dana?

Dana: The mother. The mother.

Marc: So the mother was saying that to her child who was hitting her?

Dana: Yeah.

Marc: And how old do you think the child was?

Dana: Six.

Marc: Six? Well at least it wasn't a much older child because a six year old probably can't hurt you too much, right?

Dana: What about an older child?

Marc: Well, then they might really hurt their mom.

Dana: Then what would happen?

Marc: She might have to go to the hospital.

Dana: And then what would happen to the child then if she had to go to the hospital?

Marc: Well first of all, let's backtrack a little. Did the six year old hurt the mom?

Dana: Yes!

Marc: Oh she did, okay. Was it a boy or a girl that hit their mom?

Dana: That was a boy.

Marc: And did the boy stop when the mother told him to?

Dana: Nope! He kept on.

Marc: So how does it work? Did she then contact Supernanny and say: "Can you intervene? My six year old boy is hitting me and I don't know how to make him stop."?

Dana: Yeah, she said: "Can you intervene?" She called Supernanny.

Marc: So what happened -- Supernanny arrived at the house?

Dana: Yeah, Supernanny arrived and said: [imitating a British accent] "Well, look what we got here. Bad behavior. I don't like that."

Marc: [Laughter] And was the six year old acting up when the Supernanny arrived?

Dana: Yep. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! He wouldn't calm down. He wouldn't calm down!

Marc: Did the six year old try to hit Supernanny?

Dana: No.

Marc: So the six year old only focuses his anger on his mom?

Dana: Yeah.

Marc: What about any siblings? Were there any brothers or sisters?

Dana: I think from what I heard they were all brothers, the week before last.

Marc: And did the six year old hit his brothers?

Dana: No.

Marc: What about his dad?

Dana: No. Just his mother.

Marc: So what did the kid say after Supernanny scolded him? Do you think he listened?

Dana: Yeah.

Marc: Why do you think he listened to Supernanny but not his own mom?

Dana: Because Supernanny talked to his mother and told the kid's mom not to be mean to the boys.

Marc: So the Supernanny found out that the mom wasn't being very nice to her kids.

Dana: And the one girl on one show got spanked on the other episodes. The mother was swearing at the kids: "Get your a_ _ in the corner..." You know the name for donkey? A_ _.

Marc: Yep. You can say "Ass". That's not a big deal.

Dana: "Get your a_ _ in the corner." Ass. The word ass... "...in the corner. I think I'll spank." [Now imitating the Supernanny's British accent]: "No, no. Hold your anger. Oh, I see what I don't like!"

Marc: [Laughs] So the Supernanny discourages parents from spanking their children.

Dana: Right. Discourages spanking. Encourages parents to ground the kids instead.

Marc: Oh okay. What do the kids do when they're grounded?

Dana: They make them sit on the naughty stool.

Marc: Oh, they have a naughty stool?

Dana: For little kids. When they act up.

Marc: Where's the naughty stool? Where do they put it?

Dana: Like in the middle of the floor, or in the corner of the house?

Marc: And how long do they make them sit there?

Dana: Three minutes, for hitting.

Marc: That doesn't seem very long.

Dana: No.

Marc: Is it enough for them to calm down?

Dana: Yeah. Supernanny steps in the house and keeps the children in line.

Marc: So do you think the kids behave better after Supernanny leaves?

Dana: Yeah.

Marc: Do they ever do like a follow up where they come back to the house because the children didn't change their behavior?

Dana: Well sometimes it's good for a while and then it gets atrocious and then Supernanny steps in again. 'Cause I know one time Andra gets mad over her barrettes. Andra -- one of the girls who's four. And I see like a little five year old boy hitting his thirteen year old brother.

Marc: A five year old boy hitting a thirteen year old? What did the thirteen year old do?

Dana: He had to tell his mom. And I remember when I used to visit -- not here, somewhere else. I visited Natalie back in 1992 in the summer. Natalie asked Audrey, "Do you wanna get spanked in front of everybody?" And then Audrey hit her big brother Saul.

Marc: And what happened then?

Dana: Natalie said, "You two, Saul and Audrey, you two make up." And then we were gonna go on the trolley car and Audrey was pouting and then I came back from Breckenridge to visit my mom. My mom asked me "There's the door!" She yanked me by my ear and I was gonna hit my mom, but I didn't wanna do it. What if I would have?

Marc: Well... How old was your mom then?

Dana: My mom, when I was 37, my mom was 67.

Marc: You could have hurt her really badly.

Dana: What would have happened?

Marc: You could have broken her jaw or something. You could have really hurt her badly. It's good that you controlled your anger.

Dana: What would the police say?

Marc: She probably shouldn't have yanked you by the ear right?

Dana: Yeah. What do you think the police would have said to my mom? "Be gentle with your son." Right? What about me?

Marc: They'd probably say: "You shouldn't hit a 67 year old woman." That doesn't look very good, you know?

Dana: You know what I found out? [Says name of a staff member] I got in a dispute with her and I found out "You should never kick a woman" because... why? You tell me. Why should you not kick a woman?

Marc: You shouldn't kick a man either.

Dana: Why? [Staff member] is not a man. She's a woman!

Marc: But you shouldn't kick anyone right?

Dana: Right.

Marc: Because you should be able to resolve things without hitting people.

Dana: Yeah. Why do little kids hit their mom?

Marc: Why does the Supernanny think that children hit their parents?

Dana: Because the mother's being mean. Supernanny tells us that the mother is being mean to them.

Marc: So she thinks it's avoidable if the parents change their behavior.

Dana: Yeah. But sometimes the kids are at fault.

Marc: And are there any other methods that the Supernanny uses to punish?

Dana: Grounding them for a week.

Marc: And what are some of the punishments that the parents use before the Supernanny steps in?

Dana: Spanking. How about not letting them not ride their bike for a week? How about take their TVs out of their room -- that's the big thing! Ohhh yeah! No TV.

Marc: Do some of them have video games?

Dana: I think they do.

Marc: And do they prevent the kids from playing their video games?

Dana: Yep! [The parents say] "That's what you get for hitting me. Stop it! Stop it! You don't hit me!"

Marc: But I bet they don't take away the children's books. Do they do that?

Dana: Sometimes.

Marc: They take away their books?!

Dana: Yeah!

Marc: What about music? Do they take away their music?

Dana: Yeah.

Marc: Any other kinds of discipline they use? What's the worst thing a kid has done to his parents on Supernanny?

Dana: The worst thing? Kicking.

Marc: That's pretty bad. Because if you have shoes that have a hard sole or toe you could really hurt someone. Probably more than with your hand.

Dana: How about with a soft sole?

Marc: Well, then you might hurt your own toe.

Dana: Can you hurt somebody with a soft sole?

Marc: Maybe, but then you might break your own foot. It might backfire.

Dana: If it's a hard sole you could hurt someone real bad? How?

Marc: Well... we won't get into all that.