"Are You Insane?" Supernanny Jo Frost Blasted Mom Who Made Her Son Eat Soap As A Punishment For Swearing

Date August 14, 2018

When it comes to disciplining kids, all parents have their own approach. What may work on one child won’t necessarily have the same effect on the other, but there are many ways to change your kid’s unwanted behaviors. For some parents, discipline methods include washing out their kids’ mouths with soap.

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This form of punishment has been around for at least two centuries, and parents and educators often used it to punish kids who were caught lying, swearing, or using tobacco. But is this technique effective? And, more importantly, is it safe?

Supernanny / YouTube

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A desperate measure

Viewers of Supernanny may remember one particular episode of the show, in which the mother used soap to punish her son for swearing. Jo Frost, the presenter, was absolutely horrified, as were most people who watched this moment.

Holly’s young son, James, was caught lying about jumping the fence. Later, he used a swear word when talking to his younger brother. The mom snapped and made the boy eat a small amount of liquid soap.

Supernanny / YouTube

When the star nanny and the boy’s parents were watching the video of this moment, Frost exclaimed:

Are you insane? You’ve just put a toxin into your child’s mouth!

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The mother was unfazed and responded with this:

Just a little bit, I didn’t even do a whole pump.

A heated altercation ensued, but the mother didn’t want to hear anything the nanny had to say. She insisted what she did to her son was OK.

The mother claimed putting soap in her son’s mouth worked to change his behavior. Was she right?

Supernanny / YouTube

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What putting soap in a child’s mouth can lead to

As we can see in the video, some parents still employ putting soap in the mouth as a punishment. But it can lead to serious consequences, both for the child and for the parent.

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Let’s start with the most important one: ingesting soap can lead to a serious poisoning. The extent of the damage depends on the particular amount of soap and its particular ingredients, but one thing we know for certain: swallowing soap and other detergents is not safe.

In its original form, this punishment doesn’t involve making kids swallow the soap, but accidental ingestion is still possible.

Zdorov Kirill Vladimirovich /

Now, let’s look at it from the psychological point. As other forms of physical punishment, putting soap in your kid’s mouth is quite likely to be counterproductive. A child may simply get used to this form of punishment, and he or she will no longer be afraid of being punished in this way for misbehavior. That will only fuel the parent’s frustration. Also, putting soap in a child’s mouth may be viewed as abuse, which leads us to the next point.

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In legal terms, washing out a child’s mouth with soap can be regarded as abuse, as it may harm the child’s health. Not every state has a specific formulation on this form of punishment in the state’s law, but in some states, parents may actually face charges if they use it. NBC 6 South Florida reported a case in which a Palm Beach couple was arrested when their daughter ended up in hospital after they soaped her mouth.

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What’s the takeaway? If a punishment harms the child physically and/or emotionally, it’s best to find a different approach to change his or her behavior.

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