You’ll need an extra place setting at the dinner table on Tuesdays at 10:00pm 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.
Deborah opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about going into ‘lockdown’ with the Miller family. The Virginia-based wife, mother and author, who boasts more than 20 years experience in early childhood education opens up about working with Jane and her five children after a devastating divorce.
CBS: Tell us about working with the Miller family. After their divorce, it sounds like mom is overwhelmed taking care of her 5 kids. How did you help the Miller family? Along these lines, what are your best tips for families transitioning after a divorce?
DT: “Jane, a single mom struggling to raise her five children after a divorce, is what I faced upon walking into the Miller household.
Apparently during her marriage, Jane left all of the discipline up to her husband while she focused on what she calls “a love-based approach” of coddling the children.
I wasn’t at the Miller house for more than 20 minutes and already I could see that this family was going to be very challenging. The five children – Breonne, 11, Isaiah, 8, Aaliyah, 7, Arielle, 6, and Issac, 3 – were suffering with feelings of resentment, anger, frustration, guilt and blame.
There was so much stress and anxiety looming over the house that the children were often impatient, moody, and frustrated, particularly the two eldest children Breonne and Isaiah who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.
Another issue was that bedtime was out of control. Issac rarely stayed in bed and was basically used to doing whatever he wanted.
Another issue in this house was swearing – particularly while the children were in the calm down corner. By the evening of the first day, it was very clear that these children had major emotional issues that needed to be dealt with.
Divorce can be stressful, sad, and confusing for children of any age, and for the Miller children, their stress level was multiplied by ten.
One of the first things I needed to do was to help the children heal by giving each of them their own special plant to care for in their garden. It was an opportunity for them to take ownership of and feel good about having to care for something other than themselves. I also used art therapy as an intervention that provided them the opportunity to relax and express themselves through pictures.
The children were living in the past and it kept them in a rut. So they were given a poloroaid camera to take positive pictures of each other and begin the process of creating new happy memories.
Next, I used my potty mouth technique and rewarded the children for keeping their mouths cleaned.
For the older children – Breonne and Isaiah – I knew that they needed to stop focusing on the pain of the past and to open up and release whatever was hurting them. Although the releasing the rocks technique took a while to get the children to open up they finally began to communicate and received the concept of releasing the rocks.
Only by releasing the pain were they able to move into a better space.
Finally, if any of my techniques were going to last, I needed Jane to become stronger and be the kind of mom she was meant to be.
Healing doesn’t happen overnight. But this family has taken some major steps in the right direction. In the end, they still have a ways to go but the Millers are more positive, less angry and I know their best days are ahead of them.
Best tips for families transitioning after divorce:
- Prepare your children for their transitions between homes. Let them know in advance which days are dads and which days are moms.
- Follow a routine that’s predictable and comfortable.
- Be mindful of what you say – try to keep it positive and at minimum civil
- Communication is the key to healing
- Spend quality time together
- Develop firm rules and be consistent
- Don’t talk down about the other parent