You’ll need an extra place at the dinner table on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT this year because America’s Supernanny, Deborah Tillman, is moving in! In the second season of Lifetime’s hit unscripted series, now titled America’s Supernanny: Family Lockdown, Deborah will live with families for one week.
This week, America’s Supernanny opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about taking on two of the most checked out parents she has ever helped. With a sarcastic dad and an exhausted mom, the five kids run wild and epic meltdowns are commonplace. This family just doesn’t connect, and it will take Deborah’s lockdown strategies and techniques to make the Arnold family whole again.
CBS: Tell us about working with the Arnold family-of-seven. We hear this family struggles to connect, with a sarcastic dad and an exhausted mom. Tell us about going into lockdown with the Arnolds. What strategies and techniques did you use with them?
DT: When I first walked into the Arnold’s home, I was met by parents who expected their children to know how to behave without ever having to “teach” them. The Arnold’s have five children: Abby (11), Gabe (8), twins Ben and Sam (5), and Luke (4).
The major issues in the house were the parents who acted like two teenagers babysitting five kids under duress. They were not engaged with their children at all. They avoided letting the children paint and play with clay because they deemed it “too messy”. When the children were allowed to play with clay, they had a difficult time being organized and cleaning up because they were never taught how.
I noticed from the beginning that mom, Kelly, was concerned about keeping up appearances. She would not correct her children in the store because she did not want to make a scene. So she often just gave them what they wanted so that there would be no outburst. She also never corrected the children when they were outside because she did not want the neighbors to hear. She missed opportunities to correct her children immediately because she was more concerned with what other people thought.
Throughout my observations Alex, the Dad, was so sarcastic and negative. His children would show him a picture or an item they made and his comment would be degrading rather than positive and encouraging. He was often impatient and condescending when working with Gabe during homework activities. Although his job required him to be on the computer, he was losing precious time with his children especially during bedtime and throughout the weekend.
Another issue was that, although the boys had their own rooms, they were still sleeping with the parents and would not go to sleep without the help of a movie on each night. Also, the children needed to learn how to treat each other as well as the dog, Clover, in a kind manner.
After putting the family under my lockdown, I confiscated all of their electronic devices so that they would not be enticed to watch TV, talk or text on their cell phones, or work on their computers. When a family is abusing electronic devices to the point where they are not communicating, they have to be removed.
Next, I put house rules in place so that the children would know what the parents expected them to do and not to do. If the children broke the rules, discipline would be enforced. The four younger children would get the calm down corner and the 11-year-old girl, Abby, would have to choose a consequence card.
I showed the parents how to not just give the children an activity and leave them to their own devices to figure out how to play well together, but to give the children a project. I asked them to show the children how to play and then eventually they would be able to leave them alone to do it by themselves. I worked with Dad and gave him five simple steps for working with his children on homework.
- Provide a distraction free workstation.
- Make sure the child understands what to do
- Help but do not hover
- Give a break if needed midway through
- Praise and encourage the efforts
The 3 B’s Technique was used for the three boys at bedtime. Reflection books were given to Gabe and Abby so that Dad would spend quality time with the older children, building a relationship with them and giving them the self confidence to feel good about themselves. As Dad had done so much damage making sarcastic comments to the children for so long. I wanted to teach him how he should be speaking to them.
In order to get the family playing together, I implemented my Positive Role Playing Technique which was an extensive puppet technique in which the children learned how to treat each other and Clover, the dog in a kind, compassionate way. This is a technique that can be used to teach children any life lesson.
Face The Old Technique was used for mom because she was so interested in wanting to look a certain way which did not allow her to be open, honest and transparent. I needed her to let go of all of the old feelings and to concentrate on raising happy, healthy kids by correcting them in and out of public.
Finally, in order to get dad to “feel” what his children felt every time he put them down, I asked him to draw a picture during my Positive Picture Perfect Technique. Then I showed dad how damaging it is when a parent overly criticizes his children. I ended my teaching by bringing the entire family together to play a family game where each of them had the opportunity to say something nice to another person.
It was a long road to get the Arnold parents to a good place. However, as long as they continue to follow through with the techniques, and as long as dad watches his sarcasm and mom stops worrying about the neighbors, their future will be bright.