Jo visits Trenton, New Jersey to help the Christiansen Family. Chris and Colleen have two sons: Corey (7) has a stubborn personality while Chase (3) rules the roost.
Colleen and Chris argue in front of the children about the best way to discipline them, which makes them appear childish themselves.
Can Jo save the family?
Colleen explains that once they had children, they didn't realize they had to give 100 percent of themselves. Several scenes of the kids and parents yelling at each other ensue. Jo wonders, "Who is in charge here?"
Colleen explains if the boys don't get their way, they act out with anger. Chris explains when he tries to discipline, Colleen interferes. They don't agree on parenting or even know what parenting is. Colleen sobs, "Supernanny, we need your help. Our whole family is falling apart!"
Chris reports that he felt relieved when Jo arrived. Colleen says that Jo seems very warm and interested in their family. At breakfast, Jo notices that Chase's mouth is full of jelly beans. Then the boys spill jelly beans all over the living room floor. Colleen just says, "That's not very nice." When they are at the table for breakfast, Chris is telling Corey to stop hitting him while he tries getting Corey to eat. Jo notices bottles and asks, "Where's the baby?" Learning that it's Chase's bottle, Jo observes that it's ridiculous that a 3-year old still drinks from the bottle.
After Chris leaves for work, Chase starts acting up with Colleen. In response, she tells Chase, "You're making Jo sad!" Jo is perplexed that Colleen would drag her into their interaction like that. Colleen explains that when she tells Chase someone else is sad about his behavior, sometimes he'll stop.
Jo observes there is no structure in the house, and the kids are acting up out of boredom. They are trying to make their own form of play, which is mischief. By mid-morning, Corey is so bored he runs out of the house to look for a friend to play with. When Colleen and Jo follow him outside, Chase then locks them out of the house. Colleen knocks on the door and just repeatedly begs for Chase to let them in, finally promising to give him something if he opens the door. "If you're a good boy, Mommy will give you candy!" she practically screams. Upon re-entering, Colleen again just says, "That wasn't very nice!" while Chase just asks, "Where's my candy?"
Chase again acts up when being asked to get dressed in daytime clothes before he can go play with his friend Adam. She tries dragging him out of the laundry room. He screams "No!", hitting and pinching Colleen. Colleen says this happens all the time with both boys. She says she just has to walk away when this happens. Chase slams the laundry room door in Colleen's face and refuses to come out. He then breaks off one of the slats on the louvered door to peek out. Colleen just says again, "It's not very nice!" Chase again slams the door in Colleen's face. Jo observes that the parents have given so much control to the boys, they don't know what to do. Colleen sobs about only being able to manage one kid at a time. If Corey were here at the same time, it would be worse.
When Chris comes home, Colleen immediately tattles on the boys, saying Chase broke the door. When Chris wonders whether Colleen did anything to discipline Chase, Colleen says she did nothing, then gets defensive and gives excuses for why she couldn't do anything. When Chris tries to get Chase to admit breaking the door, Chase lies. Colleen argues that Chase is too young to do admit guilt or say why he did it. They then bicker like children in front of the boys and Jo. Jo says there is so much tension between the parents that they are like two ticking bombs and she doesn't know when they're going to explode.
At dinner time, Colleen says to Corey, "Don't pinch me!" while Corey was talking back to mom. Collen then tattletales to Chris. Chris slaps Corey in the hand and then puts him on the living room sofa for a timeout. Corey then fights with his dad and his dad sends him to his room. Corey starts screaming and sobbing, "You hate me!" at the top of the stairs, while Chris yells from the bottom of the stairs, "Why are you crying?" and Colleen yells from the kitchen about how Chris shouldn't yell.
Colleen says she is worried about Jo saying she is a bad mom and not doing her job properly. Chris is mostly excited for Jo's feedback. Jo somehow manages to say their boys are lovely, then asks, "When did you give up?" She says she sees two parents who are not enjoying the blessing of being a parent, which is sad. The lack of discipline is a big issue. "How much abuse do the pair of you want to take from your own kids?" demands Jo. She notes the boys behave appallingly, it's disgusting, yet there's no discipline for it. The parents just yell and bribe.
Jo says it feels like there are four kids in the house. The parents laugh, but Jo is quick to repeat, "It's not funny!" She asks them to get real about the problems they are facing. With Colleen, the lights are on, but no one's in. She's given up, and switched off, and her boys know it. Colleen admits she has found it easier to ignore. Jo insists that they cannot give up and must get a grip on this: Be 100 percent committed to their children and each other to fix things.
Jo sets up a Family Schedule, which starts at 7:30 a.m. and builds in Mommy & Me time for each boy. She asks that at dinner, they spend time together and give each other lots of affirmation and praise. Chris thinks this is great.
She creates the Cool-Down Area (which looks like Naughty Beanbag) for the boys to go to when they break rules such as no swearing and no hitting. Chris gets to put Chase in timeout for not eating his food. Chris was happy to enforce the discipline and keep putting Chase back on the beanbag (which took 40 minutes). Meanwhile, during the last round of putting Chase in timeout, Colleen questions whether Chase really understands that this was all because not eating is a bad behavior. Jo questions why Colleen is questioning the technique. Colleen giggles and says she feels bad that Chase is so upset. Both Jo and Chris point out this is good for Chase (who eventually gives the apology).
Colleen starts Mommy & Me time, which includes a game of Jenga. Jo reports that the boys were very receptive to it. Later in the afternoon, they play with clay at the kitchen table. Corey makes an alligator, and Chase destroys it. Colleen is so upset by this behavior that she puts Chase straight into the Cool-Down Area, which works like a charm.
Jo also has Colleen do the Bye-Bye Bottle technique so that Chase starts using a cup instead of a bottle. Chase hits himself in frustration, and screams "Bottle! Daddy!" while Colleen introduces the cup. Over the screams, Colleen tries to mollify by saying they won't throw the bottle away, but just keep it somewhere else. Chris tries to intervene by taking the bottle away and yelling, but Jo insists Colleen do this herself. "I want to keep my bottle!" shrieks Chase.
Jo reminds Colleen to not let Chase use tantrums to get what he wants. He is not using the bottle anymore and Chase's screaming will not change that; she needs to throw the bottle away. Only babies use bottles. Colleen throws it away, Chase takes it out of the garbage, Chris takes the kitchen garbage with the bottle out of the kitchen and says he'll throw it out, Jo insists on Colleen doing it, so finally Colleen takes the garbage to the curb and the stupid bottle is finally out of the house. Meanwhile, Chris tries hyping up the awesome cup to Chase, who is already calming down now that he realizes the bottle isn't an option anymore.
Jo then leaves, reminding them to stick to the schedule, give kids one-on-one attention, and keep communicating with each other.
Family Test Run
At an undisclosed location, Jo sits back and turns on the TV to watch DVD footage of the Christiansens.
Colleen puts both boys in timeout for fighting with each other. Chris tries to intervene. "Stop!" Jo tells the screen. "Communicate!" Even though Colleen started the idea of timeout, Chris was the one who enforced it. "Why are you intervening?" Jo wonders. She scoffs at how Colleen took the backseat in this.
They all play together as a family. "This is good," says Jo. Colleen then says she's going to go away for 10 minutes and "have a pass since you now have daddy time." Chris and boys ask her not to go, but she does. "So much for Mommy and Me time, then!" says Jo.
Corey talks back to Chris and began to swing his arms. Thinking that Corey just hit him, Dad put him straight into time out (with no warning). Colleen and Chris yet again argue about discipline in front of the boys. Jo is fed up and ready to straighten things out.
Jo returns to show the parents the DVD footage. Jo reminds Colleen that Mommy and Me time is for Colleen to spend time with the children. Chris happening to be there isn't an excuse to stop Mommy and Me time. It's about the kids first.
Jo then shows the time out with both boys for fighting footage. Jo asked Chris to stop intervening and just have Colleen do the discipline. The boys need to learn to listen to her.
With great disgust, Jo also tells them to both grow up and stop arguing. It's not fair to the boys to get dragged into that. The parents need to focus on how to deal with their children together.
Colleen reports that when she saw the DVD, the most awful part was the arguing between her and Chris. Chris reports that when he saw the DVD, he just could see they still have work to do.
Jo introduces the Communication Zone technique to bring the parents closer and start them talking. They talk about their thoughts in private. They agree to only talk about disagreements in private. Colleen expresses that she thinks Chris uses timeout too much, but Chris disagrees. We don't get to see how they resolve that difference.
Jo then has them discuss the Household Rules and write them down. They include:
- No yelling
- No hitting or pinching
- Eat food at the table
- No talking back
- No cursing
- Ask permission to leave the house
- Practice good manners
- Be courteous
This seems to be the first time that Chris and Colleen were really on the same page about how to raise their boys.
Jo then teaches Colleen how to play outside with the boys in a way that is active, engaging, high-energy and fun for the boys. She wants to see Colleen just loosen up and enjoy having fun and being silly with her boys. Colleen admits that she needs to just have fun, be less self-conscious and not worry about what other people are thinking. Chris and the boys also like the change.
Jo leaves the house, happy that the boys have a structure that is more secure.
Chris reports the family is happier, there is more respect. Colleen reports Chase is listening more and obeying; and if she had known it was so easy to get rid of the bottle, she would have done it two years ago. Corey loves order and following the rules. Colleen realizes the most important thing is spending time and having fun. Now that the focus is on the boys, they have improved a lot.
A card runs asking for people seeking Supernanny's help to contact ABC. Some more embarrassing footage of Jo and Colleen being locked out of the house concludes the episode.
- Chris Christiansen
- Colleen Christiansen
- Corey, 7
- Chase, 3
- A Blue's Clues toy, Steve Sing Along Radio with Microphone Toy can be seen.
- Chase is wearing a Koda shirt from The Brother Bear.
In the news
Exasperated parents audition in Estero to enlist Super Nanny's help - Naples News, 7/12/2008. We learn the family is from Naples, FL, and Chris talks about how they appreciated the Supernanny experience. But most of the article is about all the desperate moms going to a Supernanny casting call at a local mall and how badly behaved their children are.
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