March 19, 2008 08:03 PM by Lisa Stauber
Supernanny Jo Frost is ready to tackle another family’s problems, and this week she’s in Corona, California. She also has ditched the green and orange suit for a lighter, more feminine look – it’s about time! Jo is visiting the McKeever family. Corey runs two businesses, including a recording studio, leaving Lucy at home with their two violent, aggressive boys. Hunter, 7, and River, 6, are old pros at hitting, biting, swearing, and throwing.
Observation begins, and Mom starts nagging the boys with empty threats. The boys hate Supernanny on site, greeting her with punches. “I don’t like Jo Jo,” one says, as he giggles about hitting her in the groin.
Jo Frost is a pro, however, and takes it in a stride. “I’ve visited a few families and been targeted, and this was one of those families,” she says as she shrugs it off. More power to you, Supernanny!
Lucy is desperate for help, and mentally exhausted on top of it. Corey works 60 to 70 hours a week, so Mom bears the brunt of the bad behavior. She gives as good as she gets though, calling her boys stupid. “You’re wasting my time,” she says during yet another homework battle. “It’s horrible.”
Corey comes home, and Lucy tells him to put River into time out. “Time out” is a code word for long battles of wills at the McKeever house. After an hour and ten minutes, the guest room is torn apart, the mattress stripped and on the floor, and little River is smearing big boogers on the furniture. Dad’s still plugging away, throwing fuel on the fire by yelling and losing his temper. Looks like River knows how to get attention around here!
“Corey has sold out,” Jo says. She notices that he is uninterested in the boys. She is especially hard on Corey during the Parent’s Meeting. “They need you. They need their father.” Dad seems unimpressed, slouching through Jo’s scolding.
Jo institutes a new technique, the Privilege Balls. Each boy gets their own color of balls. When they behave, they get more balls. When they are naughty, they lose balls. Privileges and fun times are dependent on how many balls the boys have. Simple, right? We’ll see!
Jo also clearly posts the house rules. The boys are not pleased. “I don’t like the house rules,” pouts River. “I just don’t.” Clear expectations and quick consequences are the keys to Supernanny’s discipline system, and the boundaries are bound to help. Jo helpfully points out that by following the rules, the family can have good times together.
“Dad never has a good time with us,” Hunter says. “He’s always on the computer. That’s what he loves.” Uh-oh, looks like Jo has uncovered the root of the boys’ anger. Corey doesn’t even respond, and instead just stares blankly at his son. Supernanny calls him out of the room.
After a stern talking too, Corey still doesn’t get it. “I’ve been hiding all my life and now there’s a chance millions of people could see this,” he says. “Now I am cross with you!” Jo snaps back. She lets Corey know that his selfishness is causing a lot of problems with his family.
Soon the new rules are put to the test. Hunter is denied a favorite snack and a meltdown ensues. He trashes the guest room. Supernanny simply pops her head in, and tells him that she expects him to put it all back together. Hunter starts to cry, complaining that the mattresses are too heavy for him to lift, but soon has put the room to rights. “All right now, it’s seven minutes,” Jo tells him, starting the time out. Amazing! She stays calm through the whole situation.
The boys have several emotional meltdowns, but Supernanny soothes Lucy and Corey. “Of course they’re going to resist change,” she says. Later, she asks the boys if they would like to play with their dad. “He never plays hide and seek,” the boys reply.
Supernanny makes it her mission to make Corey into an engaged and active father. She posts another board up to track his interaction with the boys, and he promises to do one activity per day. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” Corey says. “No one ever taught me.” No one until Supernanny, that is! Jo’s first lesson is to teach Dad how to help with homework.
The McKeevers are left on their own for several days, and homework goes smoothly the first night. The second night, Dad decides to check out and slumps on the couch while Lucy takes over. Lucy is doing better, but she’s still in the habit of empty threats. During one car trip, she gives the boys fifty warnings – but no consequences. “Empty threats will take you down the same road of no control,” Supernanny reminds her.
Corey tries to make good on his promise of quality time with his boys. Unfortunately, the first activity of playing ball with his boys is met with pouty whining – from Dad! “I don’t want to get dirty,” Corey complains. “I need a break.”
Supernanny returns angry with Corey, who gets defensive. “Do not huff and puff like a twelve year old,” she tells him. “You’re selfish. Everything that is going on right now is due to you.” Corey leaves the table in tears, and Supernanny softens her approach. “There’s stuff you need to heal from, stuff you need to talk about.” She hugs Dad and they seem to make a breakthrough.
“I wanted to create an unforgettable memory,” Jo says, and so she encourages Dad to take the training wheels off Hunter’s bike. After some false starts, Hunter is riding for the first time! “It was so important that Hunter is taught by his father,” Supernanny points out. She wants them to heal their relationship.
Lucy has nothing but praise. “You’re a fantastic lady, Supernanny,” she says, “You really know your stuff!” The kids agree. “Time with Dad’s fun,” Hunter says. Thanks, Supernanny, giving the McKeever kids their dad back!
Photo credit ABC/Chris Chavra.