How celebrity parents dish out discipline to their kids
Jamie Oliver's daughter had to eat chillies when she misbehaved. How do other parents rule the roost?
For the generation whose concept of wielding discipline was threatening the wooden spoon or yelling "wait 'till your father comes home", Jamie Oliver's tactics for keeping his kids in check may seem a tad bizarre.
The TV chef has admitted he gives his brood fiery chillies to eat if they misbehave. The father-of-four said, "It is not very popular beating kids any more, it's not very fashionable and you are not allowed to do it. Not if you are a celebrity chef like me - it does not look very good in the paper. So you need a few options."
One of those options was tricking Poppy, his 12-year-old daughter, into eating a Scotch Bonnet, a chilli so hot it's known in Guyana as a "ball of fire". The chef said, on the BBC Good Food Show, that the punishment worked but didn't sit well with his wife Jools.
"Poppy was quite disrespectful and rude to me and she pushed her luck," he said. "In my day, I would have got a bit of a telling-off but you are not allowed to do that.
"Five minutes later, she thought I had forgotten and I hadn't. She asked for an apple. I cut it up into several pieces and rubbed it with Scotch Bonnet and it worked a treat. She ran up to mum and said, "this is peppery". I was in the corner laughing. [Jools] said to me, 'don't you ever do that again'."
If modern-day child discipline is one of the most sacrosanct of topics, then smacking is its greatest taboo. Physical punishment has been linked by researchers to aggressive behaviour and anger problems in children in later life.
While just 1pc of Irish adults regularly slap their children to discipline them, two in five have done so at least once, according to a survey released in February by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Children's Rights Alliance. Both organisations have been campaigning for an outright ban on the practice, as has the UN Human Rights Committee.
Sheila O'Malley, a parenting coach from Practical Parenting who also runs family well-being workshops within companies, says some parents who were hit themselves have never reconciled with the experience and use the same method to try to enforce good behaviour on their own children.
"We parent as we were parented unless we are conscious of it," she says.
"Kids inherently want to be good and if they are not, it means there's something else going on. Instead of focusing on their bad behaviour, we really need to focus on what the child is feeling. All behaviour has a reason behind it."
There is an avalanche of parenting guides and mummy blogs offering conflicting advice on discipline, making it difficult for even those parents who are in the public eye to know what to do with erring children.
Lisa Fitzpatrick, a celebrity stylist and author, says that her approach to discipline shocks some of her friends. She says she is "very, very strict" with her daughter Sophie, 11, and son Dalton, nine, and that her hotelier husband Paul always backs her up.
The children do chores to earn money for anything they want to buy, pack their own lunches, and must finish any after-school activity they start. She never raises her voice or argues with her children - a stern look usually suffices if either child steps out of line. However, if one of them pushes her too far, she will exclude them from family activities.
"If one is acting up and they think we might be going somewhere as a family, I'll get a babysitter unbeknownst to them - always my mother - and leave one behind," Lisa says.
"I'll tell them they're not coming and to leave a letter of apology on my bed.
"I'm very Cruella de Vil. But I'm not embarrassed about it at all. There is nothing in the world nicer than people complimenting your kids; after events, people say 'your kids are lovely'."
Lorraine Keane, a broadcaster and former Xposé presenter, says she takes a leaf out of her mother's parenting style when it comes to disciplining daughters Emelia, 11, and Romy, eight. Lorraine, who is married to musician and producer Peter Devlin, grew up as one of seven children
"A lot of my generation seems to have a problem with the novel idea of saying 'no' to a child," she says.
"Their teenager child might see a picture of a child on Facebook going to the Wezz [a Dublin disco] and wearing little left to the imagination and then say 'well I can't say 'no' to my child'. But if you don't say no, you can expect problems down the line. Mine won't be getting into those clothes and they won't be going to the Wezz.
"My mum said 'no' to me and, as much as I thought at the time that she was ruining my life, I got over it.
"It's more difficult for parents to refuse their children nowadays because there's more on offer, more things to ask for, experiences to have.
"When I was a child and my mother had someone over for coffee, we would have been thrown into the back garden and told 'I don't want to see sight nor sound of you unless you lose a limb'."
If their daughters act up, Lorraine and her husband remove their privileges, such as trips to the sweet shop on a Friday, or their gadgets.
"Emilia got an iPod touch from her godparents for her birthday. She's only allowed have it on certain times, but if she's mean to her sister or her mum or dad, we take it away. That's really effective."
Unlike Lorraine, celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean always found it difficult to say "no" to his daughter Kirsten, who is now 18.
He leaves the discipline to Clodagh, his ex-wife.
"The one time I said to Kirsten 'you're not going out this weekend', she was so nice to me on the Friday that by Saturday, I just let her go out.
"When I get upset with her, she'll just say, 'remember, Dad, one day I'll get to control which nursing home you go to'."
Lorraine Keane is an ambassador for WorldVision's Sponsor a Child programme. For the charity's Christmas Card Appeal, see www.worldvision.ie/christmas/christmas-card
Smarter ways to discipline children...
1) Offer a choice Giving unruly children choices works better than punishing them, parenting expert Sheila O'Malley says. "If a child is misbehaving in a restaurant, for instance, say calmly that 'if you continue to misbehave, we can leave".
2) Distract them If young children are refusing to go to bed, distract with a discussion about bedtime stories. "I like to say, 'I know you don't like going to bed but we have to head up. Will we read a story? How about that one about the Princess and the Pea or Cinderella?'"
3) Don't insist they respect you "Rather than demanding respect, such as by switching off the TV and saying 'you'll do this my way', make requests. For instance, you could say, 'We're heading out to Tesco now - would you like to put on your coat?'"
4) Spend time with them If a child is continually acting up, spend as much time with them as possible to improve your relationship
5) Take a deep breath If you ever feel like hitting or yelling, step out of the room and take deep breaths.
For more, go to www.practicalparenting.ie