Jo Frost, best known as TV’s Supernanny, has a new book out offering guidance to parents of young children. Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior outlines her straightforward method of raising children with an understanding of child development. We’re happy to share with you five questions with Jo Frost:
Q: Would you speak a little about the phenomenon that we’ve all seen in which children often respond better to the directions given by others, such as babysitters/child care providers/teachers, than to those given by their parents? I’ve been on both sides of this experience, and it can be very frustrating when in the parental role, though as the caregiver, I can see it as simple testing behavior. How do you advise parents to respond to this?
A: Most parents have complained to me because their children always behave better for other people. I think that boils down to the fact that the other people have more focused, concentrated time with them and less room for them to be inconsistent, less focused and probably more patient. Parents don’t always follow through which can send mixed messages to their children and then that can make them trust less on their word.
Q: In your book, you advocate following routines for the day’s flow. Why are routines so important for young children?
A: Routines are important because they create cornerstones for consistency. Creating a foundation of stability and allowing us to establish good habits when it comes to meal times and sleeping. Routines are the framework on which your child can explore yet feel safe. When in alignment with their body clock a child can reach full potential every day.
Q: How do you see your advice working for parents who practice attachment parenting? I’ve heard from several people about inconsistent sleep routines when sharing a family bed, for instance.
A: First let’s be clear on what attachment parenting is. If you are talking about a whole family sharing a bed, then that certainly can lead to inconsistent sleep routines, which ultimately has the whole family sleep deprived. However I think it’s healthy for newborns to sleep in their separate [bed] or Moses basket for at least the first three months in their parent’s room before transitioning into their own nursery.
Q: Still on the topic of sleep, what do you think of the idea of toddlers “giving up nap time?” When I was a preschool teacher, I heard from many parents that their children had stopped napping before their 2nd birthdays, yet they would then often get into a regular nap routine in the classroom setting. What is the importance of napping for a toddler?
A: Toddlers gradually give up nap time when parents recognize they are able to get the most out of their afternoon without feeling tired and exhausted from their morning events. Because toddlers run on their unique body clock, forcing them to give up their nap time can bring on over tiredness. So watching their behavior is the strongest indicator to give up naptime.
Q: What words of encouragement do you think parents of toddlers need to hear the most?
A: Jo Frost Toddler Rules, the whole book, is about encouragement.
I want to turn that last question over to you, readers. Veteran parents out there- what encouragement do you offer to parents working through the toddler years?
For more about her new book, Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior, check out my full review over on 5 Minutes for Mom and be sure to enter to win a copy!