The Untold Truth Of Supernanny

We all remember the strict, almost dominatrix-looking Jo Frost of Supernanny. She entered the most chaotic homes with her stiff updo and rimmed glasses, ready to work miracles. We saw the most out-of-control children go from cursing at their parents to happily setting the table each night. While the episodes always wrapped up with happy kids and grateful parents, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes. From an almost failed engagement to a three year-old committing arson, we've dug up some fascinating interviews and little known tidbits from your favorite nanny show. Grab a seat on the naughty step and join us!

The show almost cost Supernanny's own Jo Frost her relationship

When Jo Frost left Supernanny in 2011, she explained she was ready to move on from the show and start a family of her own. It turns out that the show almost cost Frost one of her most important relationships. She told ET Online that her relationship with fiance Darrin Jackson suffered during filming. "You love what you do, but you love the man that you're with, and you feel constantly torn because you love both," Frost explained. "Darrin is production manager on this show, so he gets to work with us. It almost didn't work! The idea of it not working wasn't an option for me, or for Darrin, but the reality is that you have to live by what you preach as well." Frost shared that she still planned to work after settling down and becoming a mother. However, she and Jackson are committed to making it work no matter what.

The kids may have been coerced to cry

The beauty of Supernanny was watching the incredible transformation of the kids. The more out of control the children were, the more exciting the episode. The tantrums were truly groundbreaking, and they kept us coming back for more. Sadly, some of these tantrums were allegedly coerced. Producers of the British version of Supernanny revealed that the kids had to cry on the show. Channel 4 board member Roger Graef said, "They were told to force children to cry on Supernanny" during a seminar at the London School of Economics. However, Channel 4 officials told the New York Post that this never happened on the American version of Supernanny.

The show has a royal fan

The families featured on Supernanny appeared completely out of control. The kids ran the show as they screamed at their parents and threw their vegetables across the kitchen. Jo Frost had her work cut out for her week to week.

However, it seems that you don't need to have lost all control to benefit from Frost and her strategies. Even a seemingly perfect family studied her methods. When Kate Middleton was pregnant with her first baby, Prince William shared that he began watching DVDs of Supernanny. Prince Harry reportedly got sucked into the show as well!

Frost told the Telegraph that she was happy when she found out the royal family was watching. "I'm glad they're watching," she said. "I'm pleased."

Did the show exploit the kids?

During the height of Supernanny's success, concerns were raised about the well-being of the families, specifically the children. While Frost is the star of the show, it's the kids that make the program addictive to watch. Seeing them go from epic meltdown mode to happy and helpful little angels kept us coming back for more. However, the kids never actually agreed to be on television.

We sat there watching these children during their darkest times. The more distressed they were, the better the episode. Perhaps it wasn't fair to subject them to national television. What will happen when they grow up and see themselves acting that way?

Frost has been adamant that the show was only for the benefit of the children and that it never used them for ratings. When the Guardian asked Frost if she was ever concerned about exploiting children, she quickly said no. "I mean, my God, I'm for the family. I'm for the children. I would never put children in a situation where I felt I was exploiting them."

You can use Jo's expert techniques at home

After having a wildly successful TV show, it was only a matter of time before Frost tried her hand at writing. In 2011, Frost released her parenting book, Jo Frost's Confident Toddler Care. "I really love writing," Frost told At Home. "I remember when I was a nanny for John Lloyd CBE (British comedy writer, producer, and creator of QI on BBC2) and his wife, Sarah, years ago and he said to me, 'Jo-Jo, you are so good at what you do and always give the right information, you should write a book.' I guess, in hindsight, the seed was sown. I've just finished my seventh one!"

Frost shared that she found the format of Supernanny too restrictive. She craved working with the entire family unit, rather than focusing more on the children.

Even Supernannies have trouble following their own advice

Frost was insanely busy while filming Supernanny, but it turns out that frantic pace didn't go away after the show ended. She told At Home that she had to set healthier boundaries for herself after having a health setback following the show. "I had a knee injury over a year ago and I had an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) replacement, and that was a tough recovery," she shared. "I went back for therapy for a short amount of time and I've been getting better and better. I was restricted in what I could do physically and psychologically. That was a big drawback for me and, slowly, I'm getting myself back on track."

After recovering from surgery, Frost decided it was time to start saying 'no' more often. She focused on a better balance and let herself turn down projects when she was feeling stretched too thin. Looks like even the Supernanny needs some rules for herself!

One family says their sons' behavior worsened after the show

At the end of each Supernanny episode, we the audience had the satisfaction of seeing even the most unruly youngsters happily following the rules. The families always seemed so much closer and more peaceful at the end. That's probably why it's so sad to think that the stories didn't end there.

It is truly unrealistic to think that one person could undo years of conditioning in such a short period of time. This was certainly true for the Young family. Frost spent two weeks with this family of five boys. She taught the parents about how to use rewards and instituted a "naughty stool" when the boys didn't listen.

Sadly, that naughty stool went up in flames. The family's three-year-old son Joel set fire to the house with a kitchen lighter after appearing on Supernanny. The parents have stated that the children were not responsible, but the fire service released a statement saying that Joel was the one who started the fire. No one was hurt, but the house was destroyed. A spokesperson for the Essex Fire Service told the Daily Mail, "Someone is certainly going to be sitting on the naughty step for quite some time."

The Youngs have complained that their sons' behavior actually worsened after the show because they were encouraged to play up their misbehaving for the cameras.

Jo is the face of the show, but it takes a village to help these families

While Jo Frost is very effective, she can't possibly work the kind of miracle we saw on the show completely on her own. She shared with Parents that there is an entire team behind the camera who are vital to the family's success.

"We always have a psychologist on hand to meet with the families before and after to make sure they understand what's going to happen," Frost shared. "I also work alongside a production company that is very sensitive. And the crew takes directions from me on when to move in with their cameras and when to back off."

Frost explained that she makes sure that the families always come first on Supernanny, and that requires a team. The most important members of that team are the parents. Once the crew and cameras leave after two weeks, it's up to the parents to keep up this new system.

Nannies don't like the show

Not everyone agrees with Jo Frost and her tactics. One surprising group who isn't crazy about her strategies is other nannies. The nanny service ENannySource posted its top 10 reasons why nannies don't love Supernanny. Nannies worry that the show gives unrealistic expectations for nannies. Not all problems can be tied up within an hour-long show, so families should not expect one person to work miracles that quickly.

They also worry that the show thrives on drama, much more than is natural for the average family. The average nanny spends her days changing diapers and playing at the park. You don't need epic tantrums and meltdowns every day. Finally, ENannySource explains that nannies should be part of the family, not the leader. Parents are still in charge when it comes to their children, so they need to stay engaged.