‘Supernanny’ Jo Frost is returning to American TV.
The British “kid whisperer” left her long-running ABC reality series in 2010 to pursue other avenues for helping frustrated parents reign in their unruly offspring.
Her seventh book — JO FROST’S TODDLER RULES: YOUR 5-STEP GUIDE TO SHAPING PROPER BEHAVIOR — was released just last week.
Now Jo says she has a deal in place for a new series that could end up looking a lot like FAMILY MATTERS, an hour-long daytime talk show she recently began hosting in the U.K.
“It is a strong possibility that I could end up doing that here,” she tells me. “The sky is the limit with respect to that being a possibility. No two ways about it. I would love to do it. There is still a need for families to be able to connect and communicate.”
[Jo declined to confirm which network would carry the show, but says it will likely air “before the end of the year.”]
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In 2013, she appeared in six episodes of the TLC series FAMILY SOS, aiding with problems facing entire families — not just children.
But Jo hasn’t ruled out doing another show similar to SUPERNANNY.
“If I did, I would look at the format of how that was done,” she says. “If it was in prime time I would want to be able to look at not just the factuality of how I am helping families, but I may take a pause and turn that into a six part series.”
Jo recently wrapped a coast-to-coast book tour promoting TODDLER RULES.
Connecting with fans at book signings is one of her favorite things to do, she told me hours before jetting back to England…
Do you find people you meet are all asking you the same questions?
When it comes to toddlers, yes. There are specific areas where they find it challenging with respect to knowing what their children need from them. That is how the book TODDLER RULES came about. I kept having families ask me how to control and manage temper tantrums without understanding what they really were. Or just feeling like the child was having a meltdown and not knowing how to control it. So the premise of the book was really about understanding the importance of having those foundations.
After seven books from Jo Frost, shouldn’t we be living in a world of perfectly well behaved children?
[laughs] No. Look, kids make noise. Kids play up. Kids can be mischievous. Kids break the rules.
Have you ever thought of writing a book for children?
No. But I would love to write children’s books. That would be fun. I would like to write books that are interactive with parents and child. But as far as parenting, goes, it has got to come from the parent. The books I would like to do would be interactive — the kind of books that would be read by parents and children together at the age of six or seven.
Last time we spoke, you were leaving SUPERNANNY. It sounded like you had some stuff you wanted to do in your personal life. How is that all going?
It’s all good. I did my seven years of SUPERNANNY and I made a decision not to renew the contract because I wanted to go on and do different subjects and broaden the spectrum of what the format was. You know? You have got to progress a bit.
You wanted some personal time, too, right? Time to concentrate on a relationship?
That’s not the reason I left SUPERNANNY. I decided not to continue doing the SUPERNANNY format because it was very restricting. It was just unruly toddlers. And I wanted to broaden the spectrum so that people could really see the work that I was doing. That is what you see in Family SOS. A lot of times I was helping the adults. It really gave me the opportunity to show people of America that side of the work.
So as much as the stories out there seemed rather Disney and Marry Poppins-like, where she she finishes off her contract and flies off into the air to go have babies, that wasn’t really the case. It was more a case of me feeling creative and wanting to expand my creative side and my expertise and be able to show that.
Of course, what it [also] did was allow me to have less of a relentless schedule, which meant that I was able to put down roots here in California and say that I have a home rather than living out of a suitcase. And, of course, it meant that I could be more committed in my relationship with my partner and have some sort of normalcy when dating. So of course that was fun. We live together now.
There have been some published reports that you are considering adoption. Is that true?
My partner Darrin [Jackson, a location coordinator for SUPERNANNY] and I have been involved in National Adoption Day. I have always said it is hard to explain how you can love another woman’s child, but when you are a nanny you do. You love the children you look after. I have always felt that you don’t have to give birth to have the honor of raising or loving a child. So somebody said to me, ‘Would you consider adoption?’ and I said ‘Yeah, we absolutely would.‘ We have those ongoing conversations with my work and in our relationship whether we would adopt and we are both not opposed to doing that. But we haven’t filed any papers.
Are you still in touch with any of the families you helped on SUPERNANNY?
Yes! And I am still in touch with families that I used to professionally look after. [Those kids] are all in their mid 20s now.
Last question — Does it make you crazy when you are at the airport or the shopping mall and you see parents parenting badly?
No. It doesn’t make me crazy. I will usually just smile. I will see a mum frustrated and they will see me and think “There is Nanny Jo.” I remember one situation on an airplane. A mother was with her toddler who was having a meltdown. The mom was really self-conscious about the noise. And suddenly I remember feeling all these eyes on me. The passengers were all looking over like “Are you going to do something?”
So I looked over at the mother and smiled and the child was still crying. She just gave me this look that said “Have you got something for me?” And I went over to her and started talking to her. The little boy was playing up to her. She was acting different because she was on the plane. You could see it. What I did was distract her by asking her something so she wouldn’t give the little boy the attention that he was playing up for. And he fell asleep.
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