The return of Supernanny or How to raise happy kids, according to Supernanny Jo Frost is back on TV, in a new show Family SOS, and this time she’s not only sorting out toddlers and preschoolers, but teens too.
You might remember Jo Frost from Supernanny, who wangled her finger at kids, put up task charts, and most famously, introduced parents and children to the “naughty corner” or “naughty step”.
Now Jo is back mending families and instilling manners on Family SOS, a new show on DStv’s Discovery TLC. Whereas in Supernanny Jo helped toddlers and preschoolers, in Family SOS Jo deals with tweens and teens too, and it’s interesting to see how she adapts her techniques to older children, and how she manages various aged kids in one household.
We chatted to Jo before the show’s launch in South Africa about everything from the naughty step to disciplining teens, and how to raise happy kids. Here’s what she answered:
Is there anything that moms of younger kids can do to ensure later happy and well adjusted teenagers?
Allow them to be a part of your conversation. Talk to them about the things that they are interested in, the things that tickle them. Ask them about the things that they are involved in every day and what it meant to them.
Allow them to feel that emotionally they can express themselves without you reacting in a way that will close doors. Validate their opinions, whether you agree with them or not it’s important to validate what they’re saying and ask them why, certainly making sure that we can connect with our children, creativity, imagination, reading and literacy is a big one in being able to develop their repertoire and their understanding; enjoying.
Being not just verbal affection but also physically being affectionate with them as well is incredibly important as we’re able to touch, as well as we’re able to talk and for them to receive that love and affection in that way.
Have a routine in place that allows their needs to be met. Make sure that as a parent, you take time out for yourself as well because you are doing yourself and your toddlers no favours if you can’t take care of the mother ship yourself. Have a night out with your husband. Have a night out with just the girls. Take time out and don’t feel guilty for it.
Think every day how you can better yourself and the impression that you make on your young children too. It’s a 24/7 job at the end of the day and one that you are not always rewarded for straight away.
To raise well-adjusted children in life means that we do have to do some kinds of things as parents that we don’t always want to do and I think that’s key to remember too.
What main problem did you find among families in Family SOS?
Communication, a breakdown in conversation where the parents would take their time to discuss the issues that were happening with their family, with their children and with their own relationships.
There’s a fundamental lack of respect and empathy and understanding of the other person.
What is the difference between Family SOS and the previous shows you have done?
Family SOS allows us to be able to see, not just toddlers who are having tantrums. What this allows us to be able to see for the first time, is the amount of work and discussion that used to go on behind the camera we now bring to the forefront.
So in Supernanny, you always saw me helping toddlers’ unruly toddlers, but what never got to see was me addressing the adults and talking and teaching the adults or looking at the adult issues that were going on that have an impact on those children.
It’s also shot in a very candid way and it is myself, it’s Family SOS you know, it’s Jo Frost Family SOS so what you are seeing is myself without any kind of character, suit or black cab.
My expertise is helping the whole family, not just children and I wanted to be able to show that and in a very real way to families on this new show. That to me is incredibly important.
What do you think about Attachment Parenting?
I think attachment parenting is certainly a parenting style that has received positive criticism, however I think it’s important to be able to understand that we also have to raise our children to be self-sufficient, to be independent and to be able to think for themselves.
I believe in today’s world, what we should be striving to do as parents is to look at an amalgamation of many parenting styles to understand when we adopt those particular styles that allow us to parent to the best of our ability.
There are times when we don’t need to worry about our children’s safety, when we’re at home, we have safety proofed the house...it’s not a concern for us certainly what our child plays with or what they take to the park or the clothes they want to wear at a certain season, but at the same time we have to recognise that we have to be assertive as parents, so we recognise that in creating attachment and being parents who love and put boundaries in place that there are also parents who create structure and create boundaries and teach our children respect so that we have the balance.
So “attachment parenting” certainly is a positive parenting style, but I don’t believe that one can parent through attachment throughout the whole of the child’s life, because there are times when we need to adapt other parenting styles.
Do you think that your long-standing experience with the “time out” method means the child feels they are learning, or could it be damaging?
Whether you call it a naughty step or whether you call it a time out, what is important is that a child understands that there are consequences for certain behaviour and what we hope we do with toddlers is to instil a moral compass that allows them to understand the difference between right and wrong, to character build and to morally be the regulator as parents so that we teach our children appropriate, respectful behaviour in society.
What’s important is to encourage the thinking process, so that one understands as they get older the correct way of being able to behave and how to have empathy, respect and love for others in their family as well as those outside.
That’s really our job to do as parents to be able to do that. I believe if we can get that right, then we create a situation where we raise children who have respect for other children, and have empathy for those who are different in schools so that we decrease the amount of bullying that is happening in today’s society. If we have better relationships not just within our family but with those outside too.
I believe this issue can be resolved. So the time-out method comes along at a very appropriate time when you are teaching toddlers how to know the difference between right and wrong behaviour and consequently if you don’t get that right, then all that leads to is more unacceptable behaviour as the child becomes older. Yet if we get it right, we have those who are growing up to think for themselves, become less impulsive and to take their time before doing so.
Are there differences between misbehaving children in different countries in the world?
I have had the fortune of being able to help families in the USA and the UK and in a very light hearted way I can tell you that a tantrum from a British five year old looks the same as a tantrum from a five year old who’s American! It actually looks the same as well when a teenager is having a tantrum too.
What do you find more challenging? Is it helping teenagers or toddlers?
Helping families is challenging full stop. I would be lying to you if I said that helping families was not mentally, physically and emotionally taxing on me because it is. You are in a family situation where you are dealing with constant confrontation, constant disagreement.
Here is a clip from her show: