Prince William and Kate Middleton Use a "Chat Sofa" to Discipline George, Charlotte, and Louis

When it comes to parenting, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are known to have a signature style in speaking with their children, 7-year-old Prince George, 6-year-old Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis (who just turned 3!). It’s clear that the royal duo have taken a unique approach to navigating parenting in the public eye, but one of their methods for disciplining their cohort of youngsters recently made headlines as it’s seemingly unheard of.

According to reports from the Sun, Kate and Will (who have not publicly confirmed they use this technique) are not fans of what’s known as the “naughty step” in the United Kingdom, basically a “time out” here in the United States — so they turn to what an insider says they call a “chat sofa.”

What exactly is a chat sofa, you might ask? It’s the royals duo’s own method to plainly explain why the child in question has made a mistake and is now having a “talking to,” so to speak. “There’s no ‘naughty step’ but there is a ‘chat sofa,'” a source told the Sun. “The naughty child is taken away from the scene of the row or disruption and talked to calmly by either Kate or William. Things are explained, and consequences outlined, and they never shout at them.”

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Their calculated method of discipline reinforces some of the royal couple’s most notable parenting techniques. It seems to be a calm way of working through the situation, and allows Kate and William to listen to their children and address them eye-to-eye, as they have been known to do in public appearances. The “chat sofa” is seemingly used by all of the children’s care takers, including Maria Borrallo, a nanny who has been serving the royal family for years, according to the newspaper.

Immediately removing the child from a situation in which their behavior is disruptive or unacceptable may actually help them feel more understood later on. While a scholarly review published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics suggests that time outs do not negatively affect children in the long run, some experts believe time outs are structured ineffectively, as they lack a conversation. Emily Mudd, PhD, a pediatric behavioral specialist at the Cleveland Clinic that wasn’t directly involved in the study, commented on the research to explain that smaller children often need direct help in regulating their emotions.

She advises parents to try to clarify emotions in the moment (“I can see that you’re very angry right now”) to help them alleviate emotions, and avoid having to drag on a time out later on — in fact, time outs should only last “one minute per year of age,” Mudd said.

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