I just watched the first episode of the new American version of Supernanny. I’d read the reviews; some liked her and others didn’t. I expected my reaction to be mixed. I knew I didn’t like the title Supernanny being given to someone who had never actually worked as a nanny but I assumed her background would make her a pretty good parent coach. I was oh so sadly wrong.
On the first show, the new Supernanny introduced the “calm down corner” which is her name for a traditional time-out spot. When the four year old was put into the corner and refused to stay, the Supernanny “coached” the father to chase down his four year old son OVER ONE HUNDREND TIMES and return him to the same spot until the child gave in and sat there “calmly”. This process took over an hour. Let me say that again…this escape and return cycle happened over one hundred times and went on for more than an hour. Oh yeah, and this all started at bedtime when this four year old child was already tired and needed sleep more than anything else.
I think the way Miss Deborah used the “calm down corner” was absurd. And given she went on national television proclaiming to be a childcare expert and doling out how-to advice to tens of thousands of parents, I think her coaching was at best misguided and at worst, dangerous. And no, I’m not a spineless nanny who sees any kind of discipline as mean. I have high expectations for kids. But what I saw tonight wasn’t discipline, guidance or teaching in any positive way. It was simply a wearing down of a four year old child who was clearly feeling angry, frustrated, powerless and sad. It wasn’t empowering like parent coaching should be. It was heart-breaking.
This is in no way a slam against the father in the episode. He was only doing what ‘the expert” told him to do. And that’s what scares me. Imagine a parent, already feeling overwhelmed by their child’s behavior, following the advice given in this show. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that parent (or nanny) losing control and verbally or physically lashing out at their child. Imagine how you’d feel after 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 minutes? I know I’d be at the very end of my rope.
So now that I’ve seen the show, now that I’m appalled that she’s being held up as an expert, I refuse to let her be the new face of the nanny world. (I know if I hired a nanny who treated my child that like, I’d fire her on the spot.) If you’re a nanny that shares my views of the new Supernanny, if you approach challenging behaviors in a more positive way and are willing to share your expertise, let me know. I don’t have a solid game plan but I’m working on a way to show the public some real nanny wisdom.