Daytime TV talk show host and global parenting expert Jo Frost recently wrapped up a U.S. tour promoting her new book, Toddler Rules.
"I wanted to write a book on teaching basic skills for parents on what temper tantrums are and how to identify them," she says. "There are three and when you know what they are, you can respond. This means you can eliminate them. It makes it easier for you and the child to communicate."
Frost has been on the business of nurturing parent-child relationships for 18 years. She started down the path 25 years ago as a teenager.
"It wasn't a conscious decision, but a natural organic progression," tells Frost. "I was raised sociable as a little girl. As a teenager, I babysat in the evening and during summer holiday. I naturally progressed to babysitting during college. I then became a professional nanny. Then I would troubleshoot, like what you saw on Supernanny. Then I started to consult."
Since the end of Supernanny, Frost has been hard at work capitalizing on other opportunities. Her current project, Jo Frost's Family Matters, airs in London, England, with familes who come to hee set for advice from parenting to situational crises.
"Parents ask me about their children, but they ask me about their families, as well. They ask me a question based on a dilemma— like inviting a child bully to the birthday party to behavior issues, sleeping and eating problems. So it's not just children, but family adult questions.
"It's hard work, but it's good fun. I love to do it," says Frost.
Now living in California, Frost recently returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia where she taught families there. We were able to catch up with Frost and talk to her about challenges affecting military families based on reader questions.
Q. How do I help my 8-year-old child cope with an overseas move?
Frost: Pace things. If you over inundate a child with everything that is going to happen, they will have more anxiety. The most important thing is to pace your child and have it on the calendar. Otherwise it can become overwhelming. It's not a matter of sitting down and having a massive talk all at once, but it could be a conversation that happened where you let them know of the decisions and keep them informed as you progress with the move in its stages. You're the regulator. Get organized. Prepare. Kids really want to know how it's going to impact them.
Q. How do I transition into my child through my first deployment?
Frost: Get on the same page with your support system. Any mother is going to want to make sure the child has stability and framework in place. For toddlers, I wouldn't tell them months in advance because they don't have a concept of time. But you are going to want to know how you will talk to your toddlers. Keeping everything quite simple: "Mommy works for the military and I have to go away for a while. I will write to you and you will be going to school." Since you're going away on a deployment, you'll want to do everything with them. If you want to do more, you can do it, but you shouldn't do more [than normal]. You want to keep the consistency of the routine that they're used to. Don't feel pressured to do more because of the lost time.
Q. How do I help children adjust after a move?
Frost: Validate what they feel. Children want to be heard. If you put them on the spot they won't do anything. It is a lot of initiative. When you're in a new place, take the free magazines and see what events are in the area. Being able to take you kids to certain classes, events and parks provokes conversation and other parents will be there. Going to the library weekly helps you to see the same people.
It takes parents stepping out of the comfort zone to set an example for that child to meet other people and experience different things. You'll want them to stay connected with old friends through electronic media, but help them with making friends in the new place, too. As parents we want to take the pain away from our kids, but actually it is good to talk about the positives coming with the move. Why did it happen? What opportunities will it bring? With kids its all rationale. It's important to talk about the silver lining coming with that move.
For toddlers, it's all about them and the environment that they live in. For ages 6,7,8 and tweens, they have their own emotions. Toddlers go along with the hustle and the bustle. The older kids want to know the impact and what it means for them. You have to tell then what it means for them. You can help them with Skyping and calling friends. You can help them continue with their favorite activities [from the previous city] in the new city by showing them where they are in the new place. Parents get impatient, but we have to go through the process with our children. Just be real and authentic with them, "It kind of sucks today, but it won't always be like that" and it creates reassurance and stability. We underestimate our children and how much they understand. The way we talk to them really helps. We don't want to babify a 7 year old. We want to talk realistically.
If you're in need of military family advice, or just want some advice on raising everyday kids, Frost welcomes your questions on Twitter at @Jo_Frost.