Supernanny Jo Frost's Top Three Tips for Parents
As her show kicks off its sixth season, television's favorite nanny shares her favorite tips for raising happy, healthy children.
What are the top three things every parent should know when it comes to raising kids?
First, stop and think about what kind of parent you want to be and what your family values are. And by the way, it's rather bizarre to me coming from England that Americans associate strong family values with religion. Values don't have to be associated with any religion -- unless it's the family religion. These values are about the things we do as a family, about being responsible and nurturing.
Second, lead by example. Don't be hypocritical. We should be positive role models in our children's lives. Our children look up to us and are inspired by the qualities we have. They're a mirror reflection. They make us laugh at ourselves when they mimic us, and at the same time they make us check ourselves. As parents we're learning along the way as well, but respect is twofold. Show respect and it's given back.
Finally, time is irreplaceable. You can't have growth without time. You can't show your love unless you make the time to show it, and you can't build memories unless you have plenty of it.
What are some of the biggest mistakes American parents make with their kids?
Not having realistic expectations is one! For example, a very common situation is when parents have a second child and there may be a very small gap between the two. The first child has been the apple of their eye and then the second one comes along -- and overnight they expect the older child to put their shoes and clothes on themselves, eat with a knife and fork, and put a backpack on and go off to school. You have to understand what your child is capable of.
I also find that parents are not consistent in their word, whether it's in discipline or following up on something that you promise. I know it's important for children to understand that things happen out of the blue that we didn't expect, but parents are not consistent to their word and it's a real letdown. Like when Mommy promises, "Just let me tidy this up and I'll come and play with you," and it doesn't happen.