PARENTS

Is Supernanny Jo Frost 'Unasseptable' To Today's Parents?

14/08/2014 16:59 | Updated 20 May 2015

Is Supernanny Jo Frost 'unasseptable' to today's parents?

Is it time for Jo Frost to throw in the towel? As the 42-year-old Queen of the Naughty Step promotes her seventh parenting manual and starts filming Family SOS with Jo Frost, should we be shouting "Enough already!" (she lives in America now)?

Or actually, is so-called Supernanny so incredibly talented at teaching us what makes good, common sense, no-nonsense parenting that it's possible she hasn't even reached her peak yet?

Frost, who became a household name on Channel 4's Supernanny after she answered an advert in 2004, claims she's not even close to finishing yet.

Her next TV series, she explained on her visit to the UK earlier this month, begins a whole new chapter, turning the spotlight from children onto the grown-ups.

So instead of the eye-level ultimatums and finger-wagging reprimand, "You've been very, very naughty", which has become her best-known catchphrase, she will now focus on single-handedly whipping the parents into shape. It is, she says, "very raw."

Meanwhile, her new book, Jo Frost's Toddler SOS: Solutions for the Trying Toddler Years does exactly what it says on the tin, offering practical, easy-to-follow advice.

If you're already bemused by the huge array of toddler manuals on the market, fear not – she insists this is about "in the moment" solutions rather than the more theoretical, explanatory stuff that's already out there (and which includes her own previous bestselling book, Jo Frost's Confident Toddler Care.)

It's doubtful it will be her last book since (a) every one she writes becomes an instant bestseller and (b) Frost says she loves the fact that writing enables her to pass on her knowledge without having to worry about the notoriously tight editing process of TV.

And really, when you think about it, why shouldn't Frost continue to ride her wave of success? Her books never fail to shift millions of copies, with parents lapping up her heart-of-gold disciplinarian tips.

Meanwhile, most parents have something to learn from Frost's TV shows, whether that's her original UK episodes in which she used to arrive in full nanny regalia to tame wild children and exhausted parents – or, more recently, her Stateside version.

Brave are the families who are willing to parade their out-of-control kids (not to mention their own desperation) on prime time telly, you might think (I do). But the fact is that most of us were secretly grateful for a reality TV tutorial in parenting poor behaviour.

The fact that each show finishes with Frost appearing to have performed miracles with fairly simple but fundamental techniques such as consistency and consequences made it all the more appealing.

No wonder that even early on, Frost won fans in Government, with the Tory party praising her methods in a parliamentary debate on anti-social behaviour.

Frost's family certainly isn't surprised she was such an instant success, attracting six million viewers and reportedly earning £5m within just two years of the show's launch.

The family phone had long been called the Nanny Hotline due to the endless calls from nannies and parents seeking her pearls of wisdom. Now, her celebrity fans include the likes of Hugh Jackman and she regularly appears on Oprah.

On the other hand, you might argue (and many do), that we have surely reached saturation point.

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How many more despairing families do we need to exhibit for Frost to give what are basically the same messages week after week?

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Is the uncomfortable truth that her screen time has now crossed the line from tutorial to exploitation of end-of-their-tether families?

And do parents really need an endless conveyer belt of manuals by the same author or will that simply lead to them feeling more, rather than less, secure?

It's not as Frost's approach itself is without controversy. With no real formal training or kids of her own, Frost has been criticised for her blunt, relentless one-size-fits-all approach that leaves little room for anything more nuanced.

Some childcare experts have claimed to being appalled by her "Hobbesian" emphasis on discipline. The NSPCC is even reported to have worried that the parenting tips offered on Supernanny were "outdated and potentially harmful."

Then there are those who find Frost's readiness to play up to the pantomime stereotype of the staunch nanny just plain irritating.

"This behaviour is unasseptable" is just one example of her many mispronunciations and malapropisms that also get on people's nerves (and which form many of her unwitting catchphrases). Others criticise her for being shrill and brash.

The jury, then, remains out on whether time should be called for Supernanny. But whatever your view, the fact is that nearly a decade after she first hit our screens, Frost is still using her tried-and-tested approaches to the delight of families all over the globe and there's no doubt she is making a pretty packet along the way.

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