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Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 6:00:00 AM
Thursday August 1, 2013 MYT 3:10:35 PM
by chee su-lin
Most of you might be familiar with Jo Frost a.k.a. “Supernanny”. In the similarly-named TV series, she is a stern Mary Poppins-type character who saves parents at the end of their tether from hell-raising children.
Instead of a twee umbrella and spoonful of sugar, Frost, with her thick London accent and scraped back hair, dispenses discipline, the most famous form of which is the “naughty step”. With this technique, children out of order are banished to a particular spot of the home. This “naughty step” involves no discernible barriers or pain (it is not a torture chamber).
As I found out when trying it out on our five-year-old daughter, it works. Because we live in a condo, it was a “naughty chair”, but nevertheless, it terrified Aimée.
Today, we don’t use it much; a combination of bribes and threats (to permit or take away play dates, parties, etc) usually does the job. At times though, there is occasion to bring up the naughty step, and even in her relatively worldly five-year-old eyes, it is purgatory.
The point is, even though Frost is not a mother herself, she worked for over a decade as a “professional” nanny bringing up other people's kids, even before filming the series. So, be it through this experience or cobbling together wisdom from a number of ghost writers/researchers, the book holds many useful tips and tricks.
Laid out in Q&A format, from parents to the “supernanny”, these are divided according to the following chapters: Bonding, discipline, eating and drinking, development, health and safety, hot button behaviours, life skills, out and about, potty-training, siblings, sleep, temperament and personality, time off as well as transitions.
In the chapter on eating and drinking, for example, a parent asks for help on how to get her toddler to use cutlery when eating (a problem my daughter still has). Frost responds that you can put you hand over your child’s to show him how to do it, which she calls shadowing. Sounds simple, but I never thought of doing that!
Another parent asks if there is something wrong with her child who prefers to play on his own. Frost suggests setting up one-on-one play dates so that he gets used to just one other person. “Then, after a while, when he’s comfortable with that person, add in another child, and work your way to a big group,” she offers rather practically.
Indeed, even though I have to admit I’m quite self-satisfied with my daughter, that we’ve been blessed with a darling, “easy” child, there are always things to learn to make life easier.
For example, a big chore we have nearly every morning is making sure she gets ready in time, be it for school or weekend classes. The book proposes drawing out a chart with pictures that show each step your child has to follow – out of bed, wash and dress, eat breakfast, brush teeth – and stick it next to the clock so he or she will see what to do once woken up.
There are also several useful lists: From a three-stage “food plan of action” to menu suggestions and steps to practise the “blow out anger technique”. The last one involves getting down to your child’s level, and breathing in and out slowly and purposefully. The focus and concentration needed to do this will apparently diffuse your child's anger and help her in the long run with self-control!
Most interestingly, Jo Frost’s Toddler SOS does not impose tyranny as a solution upon the apple of your eye, as sometimes comes across on television. For example, when counselling a mother who confesses to tiring of her child, the author is not judgmental but suggests that the tedium may come from a child’s frustration from not having enough freedom of choice.
Also, the book is pleasantly laid out, with pictures and topic boxes interspersed in between text which varies between black and green.
Ultimately, even though it may not be as thorough as some hallowed child-rearing tomes (such as the What to Expect series), it is light and easy reading, with a conversational tone. It also covers nearly all the bases in its 232 pages, including almost a whole chapter on the infamous “naughty step”.
* Available at Books Kinokuniya Malaysia. For further enquiries, call +603-21648133, email email@example.com or visit BookWeb Malaysia.
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Jo Frost's Toddler SOS, Jo Frost, supernanny, parenting, family, book, review
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