As an age bracket, toddlers have gained a reputation for being particularly trying.
Jo Frost explains that this is because, “Everything is new.” With over 20 years’ experience in the field of childcare, Jo Frost’s TV shows, from the early Supernanny years to Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance and Family S.O.S. With Jo Frost, have been shown in over 40 countries.
“They are becoming more independent, and it’s when you are shaping the fundamental morals of how you want to raise your children. They’re more mobile; they’re vocal, they want to explore… you have a little human being by your side who wants a little more self-sufficiency.”
Now, the TV disciplinarian has condensed her impressive toddler expertise into book form, with Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules. The next time you’re tackling your infant’s strop in the supermarket aisle, or fighting a losing battle encouraging your tot to eat his dinner, there’s Jo’s five step toddler programme to turn to.
“An athlete has to be disciplined in order to reach their goals - parents need to understand that,” the nation’s adopted nanny tells Motherpedia. “The book focuses on five fundamentals because that’s where we can see toddlers behave better … What we do is really shape toddler behaviour so that when it comes to preschool, they’re able to sit down, focus, learn and enjoy that education.”
For Frost, it’s critical that little ones “get the sleep they really need,” and that as parents we are able to “provide a balanced variety of foods, so that with good nutrition, food and exercise, they are keeping well-balanced.”
All it took was a TV news broadcast to inspire Frost to put pen to paper once again.
“I saw that a plane had turned back around because a child was having a temper tantrum. I felt it was important to teach parents the three types of temper tantrum a toddler will have. If we can identify those tantrums then we can start to respond to our child better rather than react.”
Calling a tantrum “a learning opportunity for us to communicate better with our toddlers,” Frost is also aware of how implementing proper eating habits can made a big difference to a child’s behaviour.
“We need to take in mind that, as parents, we are shaping our children’s eating patterns… I’ve lost count of how many homes I’ve worked in where I’ve seen a lack of a good bedtime structure and routine, a lack of nutritional education and a healthy feeding schedule - and that all contributes toward ill-mannered behaviour and health issues.”
So how do we get toddlers eating the food they should? As Frost reminds us, “Children are born with a blank canvas and the palette is blank, it’s there for you to be able to introduce new foods.”
“I’m not opposed to a child having sweets or a packet of crisps, I just think everything has to be in moderation. If you expect your child not to like fruit and vegetables then they’ll grow up not liking fruit and vegetables.”
While the ‘terrible twos and threes’ can be tricky, as young children strive for some independence, they also reach a stage where they are able to help with chores. Frost encourages parents to “centre chores around the child, rather than expect them to participate in tasks that don’t involve them.”
Toddlers can be especially difficult when it comes to meeting a baby sibling. Frost advises that the best way to ensure your tot accepts their new sibling easily is to make sure young older child is well prepared – and by continuing their regular routines when the baby arrives. “It’s important that your toddler doesn’t feel she’s missing out because of the new baby,” she warns.
With so much parenting advice available on so many platforms these days, stressed parents can be faced with what amounts to an ‘opinion overload’.
“We have lived through it ourselves,” Frost shrugs.
“One minute an orange is fantastic to eat, the next it isn’t. There’s lots of conflicting information out there and I think parents have to use their own gut instinct and know when to seek out professional help. The reality is we shouldn’t rely on one sole reading.”
She’s devoted over two decades to the profession, and Jo Frost is obviously passionate about her craft. She’s even stayed in touch with many of her young wards across the years.
“Technology has changed so much in the ten years I’ve been on television that now the kids have all got twitter accounts,” she laughs. “They’ll say, ‘Hi JoJo! Or they’ll come to a book signing which is really lovely,” she grins.
Frost has hinted she’s like to start a family herself in the not-so-far-away future. No doubt she'll be looking to transition from 'Supernanny' to ‘Supermummy’.
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Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules is out now.