Why Supernanny is DEAD WRONG!

I've really had it with Supernanny.

That's how *this parent* feels. You know when you've really had it with your kids. That's how I feel about this woman who has made a brand out of bad advice that just got disturbingly worse. 

Supernanny was on Good Morning America recently in a segment called, "Taming Toddler Tantrums." With the wealth of information and speakers available to speak on child-rearing and current best practices, I expected more from GMA.

Tweet: We're always more receptive others when we feel we have been heard & considered. @TEACHthruLove  http://bit.ly/1ePIa8B #TEACHableMomentsClick here to TWEET GMA and tell them we need to TEACH through Love!

The parenting tips  "Supernanny" Jo Frost gave went from being ill-informed to dead wrong in a matter of seconds with the dangerous advice given to the Joliet (sp) family and their son Patrick.

Telling these parents who have "trouble forgetting the trauma" they should "recognize his heart condition has not hindered him to understand - here in his brain - to understand to do things." - is absolutely false and frightening.

Young Patrick's medical history absolutely would change his brain and make his regulatory system more sensitive, less efficient and unable to cope with what was being asked of him. 

Supernanny's advice flies in the face of current brain science and what any qualified parent educator or developmental expert would tell you.
There are lots of programs out there filled with love and logical consequences or 1, 2, 3 tricks. Maybe you have even tried to follow the advice of the Supernanny with the hit TV show.

You may have been lulled into thinking your child could be so easily swayed into obedience with a reliance on old-school behavior modification.

But, this approach completely denies the science behind the brain of a developing child, and gives parents false hope and little recourse for the sensitive, traumatized or temperamentally inflexible child who melts down under such behavioral control.

Demanding compliance will only hard-wire tantrums and create patterns of reacting which can be rigid and uncompromising or passive and submissive, but are not emotionally intelligent.

Giving parents advice and short-term solutions which rely on disconnecting from their kids to produce very little in terms of long-term change is bad for the overall health of families and for the future of our nation.

I'll give you a step-by-step guide for thinking and speaking in ways which build your child's skill set and grow his brain.

"But Lori, kids MUST learn there are consequences for their actions!"

Let me explain. I absolutely believe in teaching accountability and kids need to be able to reflect on their behaviors so they can notice how they affect the whole and learn to make positive choices. 

But, the way you get to reflection is in direct opposition with what the mainstream thinking suggests. For example, on Supernanny's website it states the "Naughty Step Technique for Discipline... can be applied between the ages of 2 and 6 years old."

The naughty step is an overly-judgmental way of saying: Time-Out.

Of special importance is the ages she mentions (2-6 yrs) are the approximate ages when the brain is the
most emotional and most explosive, and more in need of attention and support because of the primary focus of development being in the "Emotional Center" - the highly reactive mid-brain.

Time-out ignores the required conditions for building self-regulation.

Healthy development requires the presence of attuned, and emotionally responsive caregivers. Isolation, the fear of being disconnected, or the stress of being unheard all interrupt this process.

The next step in the time-out/naughty step process is to "Give a warning - Walk away from the child, to give them a chance to think about what you have just said."

A child of this age is developmentally incapable of independently reflecting on his behavior - and certainly not able to reach that brain state while being forced or shamed into change.

"But I believe kids need to be told why they were misbehaving?"
Of course, kids need to be taught how to interact in positive ways, use healthy coping skills and be educated on community/family values, but they learn those things in ways which traditional parenting advice ignores.

Supernanny advises you to, "Take the child silently to the step, sit them on it, and explain to them why they are now in time out. If a child calls you from their time out ignore them."

Ignoring your child while they are in a state of stress (stress from being isolated, judged and therefore unable to cope because the neural connections to self-regulation are offline and still very immature) is a surefire way to create a pattern of negative feedback in which your child gets stuck in fight-or-flee.

Then, it is suggested parents to return to their child and "explain for the second time why they were placed on The Naughty Step."

At this point, all the logic in the world would not help your child learn. All your child wants now is to be free of this pain and condemnation, and back in your good graces so s/he can begin to feel better again. 

Your valuable lessons will surely fall on the deaf ears of a child who feels unheard, punished, threatened or disconnected. There is no learning, remembering or processing rules and information while in a state of stress.

"How is my child going to learn socially acceptable behaviors if I don't insist on them - even gently?"

Continuing with the previous example, Supernanny advises, "Tell them they need to apologize and say sorry for their behavior" - apparently so the child can "understand the importance in reflection, and that their actions have had an impact."

"Telling" your child will do nothing. At this point, you'll have to repair the relationship which has been eroded by the previous interactions to get anywhere.

Apologies and reflection come naturally when in the presence of two very important things - and neither one of them has anything to do with forcing your child to display a feeling s/he may not be in touch with.

Empathy, self-regulation and consideration are pre-frontal cortex skills which are built with tolerance and compassion - not authority and control.

Lastly, parents are told to encourage
"hugs and kisses after the apologies."

This is a confusing message for your child - one where you use your power and position to control behavior and then you use your emotions to deny responsibility and tell your child it was for their own good. I've seen Supernanny require parents to withhold affection until they get the required "apology."

This emotional manipulation and behavioral control are damaging to your influence and your authentic connection.

Click here to learn how to use language which will increase your child's natural motivation to express remorse, gratitude, show empathy and consider others.

When your kids feel safe within the bounds of your limits instead of like they have to fight, rebel and flee against every request - you will see change! 

What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments below. 


TEACH through Love, Lori Petro B.S.Ed.
Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child The Heart of Parenting, Dr. John Gottman
Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason, Alfie Kohn
Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, Dr. Gordon Neufeld & Dr. Gabor Mate
Out of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn't Work and What Will, Dr. Shefali Tsabary

This link is for anyone tempted to leave me a comment and tell me how I'm raising a disobedient brat and future jail-bird (O=Outstanding).

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