The Natural Supernanny

So, I was thinking the other day how great it would be if there was a TV programme similar to Supernanny, but that used gentle and respectful parenting, and how great something like this could be for bringing this style of parenting into the mainstream.

But then I realised, it just wouldn’t work. Why? Because TV producers want fast entertainment, this is why shows like Supernanny are such a hit. Jo Frost relies on “quick fix techniques” that mean she can come into a family home and within a week, she can produce drastic results. People not only find it entertaining but also feel like they can take the techniques and use them at home to create their own dramatic changes and solve all their problems, that’s why they love it – but at what cost to the children?

The Natural Supernanny could never work, because gentle and respectful parenting is not filled with quick fixes that shove the real issues under the carpet. It doesn’t rely on coercive techniques, or punishing our children when they won’t conform, it doesn’t have space for bribery and time-outs. Yes all of these things “work” to some extent, but it depends on your point of view. Using Supernanny’s techniques, you may succeed in breaking the child’s will and getting them to “behave.” But you won’t build a connection that secures your child’s desire to cooperate. These techniques create a barrier – an us against them atmosphere, and in the long run, the power of time outs and sticker charts will fizzle out and you will be left with a teenager or older child who knows you have noting left to threaten them with.

The Natural Supernanny would come into a family, and it could take as long as a year (or perhaps even longer) to resolve the issues in the family relationships. She could support the family in identifying the issues which are triggering particular behaviours, noticing what needs are going unmet for both the parent and child, and coming up with solutions for meeting those needs. She could help parents to work through their own triggers and break habits of reacting with anger, threats or violence. She could support the family in rebuilding their connections and growing their bond, noticing as their joy for each other grows, the behaviour issues slowly decline as a natural result.

It takes time to create lasting change within our relationships. If a family have been used to parenting in ways that don’t respect the child as an individual, a week of time outs and sticker charts is not going to fix all their problems. It takes time for the trust to be rebuilt. Not only the parents trust in the child, and the child’s trust in the parent, but also the child’s trust in themselves and their belief that they are a good and worthy human being. If they are used to being told that everything they do is wrong, and punished for their actions, they may have a hard time moving away from the idea that they themselves are somehow “bad.” Remedying these issues will take time, dedication and real change in the way we treat our children.

So, until society stops seeing children as pawns for our entertainment, I have little hope of seeing a Natural Supernanny on our screens. But wouldn’t it be great to see something that focused on creating real change, offering families long term support and guidance, and stepping away from the quick fix mentality? What a wonderful way to help parents to create joy and connection within their families!


What are your thoughts on Supernanny? Would you love to see more shows that focused on connection and trust rather than punishment and rewards?

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4 thoughts on “The Natural Supernanny”

  1. Thank you for this email on the need for a show called “Natural Supernanny”. I think there could most definitely be a humongous market for a show like this. The need for psychologists & maybe even prescriptions for various ailments might decline, but that would be evidence of its effectiveness. I think most people learn by example, and unfortunately, all the entertaining shows portraying various levels of dysfunctional relationships have most definitely helped shape ideals in young minds. Those young people grow up, have kids, and the dysfunction spreads like the epidemic it is these days.

    The main problem is: how to market such a show? Who will the audience be? How attractive will the nanny have to be while still maintaining respect?

    Maybe call the show “The Family Whisperer”, so whoever the nanny is won’t be squeezed into the expectations that come with the title ‘nanny’. I see the type of nanny in ‘Natural Super Nanny’ as more like a super-dedicated family psychologist / guidance counselor / behavior expert. The skills that would be demonstrated would literally be worth much more than most anything else on TV. If the show became as popular as ‘Friends’ or ‘Seinfeld’, the impact could be so huge for this generation of kids and quite possibly the following generations. The families on the show would provide the drama, and we all know how people like reality shows. The clincher would be who the Natural Super Nanny / Family Whisperer will be and how that person will be able to connect with each member of the families as well as the audience.

    I sincerely hope this idea reaches full fruition!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Erika Bontrager

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. You’ve hit the nail on the head! Unfortunatally, Supernanny is a crowd pleaser because our society believes that children should do exactly what we want, if they don’t, they should suffer. The little I accidently saw of Supernanny made me feel sick! I felt compassion for that little boy who was being bullied by the misguideded good intentions of his parents and Jo Frost.

    I too would love for the general public to be exposed to real developmental stages (especially emotional and social), the proven damaging long term effects of popular discipline methods and the many ways of kindly and effectively holding boundaries and teaching socially acceptable behaviour.

    Even though this is the first time I’ve comented, I enjoy reading your posts and I’m looking forward to reading your book. 🙂 Take care, Claire

    1. Thank you so much Claire. I agree, unquestioning compliance seems to be the holy grail of parenting in the eyes of the majority. I hope that things are begining to shift and our children can be who they are without fear of punishment for thinking and choosing for themselves.

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