Laura Amies, 37, who has twenty years of experience in taking on tearaway youngsters, will star in the new Channel 5 show Toddlers Behaving (Very) Badly.
With qualifications in child psychology and counselling and experience minding children in nurseries and hotels to working as a private nanny, Laura knows just what it takes to tame toddlers, which is why the station came knocking for the show, which will be screened next month.
The show will see her taking on four-year-old James, a youngster with a habit of running off from home and nursery – with no thoughts of his own safety or the danger involved.
Mum Stacey, from Chepstow, Monmouthshire, tells the show: “The worst time was when he escaped over a wall at nursery and I went around to intercept him and he wasn’t there. Those 15 minutes he was missing were the longest of my life.”
In the first episode Laura starts a strict regime for James. The problem, she realised, was that he faced no consequences after running away.
“It’s important to have boundaries, rules and consequences,’ says Laura. ‘But Stacey hadn’t laid down the law.’
For James, Laura placed red ‘stop’ and green ‘go’ signs on doors around the house. If James went through a ‘red’ door, which led outside, without permission, he was banished to an empty room called the ‘baby room’ for a short time.
‘James saw the stop signs as a game, so that worked,’ says Stacey, 31. ‘I felt uncomfortable leaving him to cry in the baby room, but I stuck with it. Now he stops when I tell him to.’
And children who bite, refuse to eat or hate going to bed are no sweat for Laura either.
‘I just love to see children grow and develop,’ says Laura, whose husband Mark works for the Met Police.
‘We don’t have children yet,’ she says. ‘I’m way too busy helping other people’s”.
Another parent in need of her advice was Kayla, 29, single mum to Callum, ten, and four-year-old Callis, from Enfield in London.
Kayla was finding life intolerable because of Callis’s tantrums. ‘If Callis didn’t want to do something Kayla would do it for him, so there was no incentive for him to behave,’ says Laura.
‘I had to find a way to give Kayla control.’ Her idea was simple. Along with setting up a star chart that rewarded Callis for tasks like getting dressed and tidying his room, Laura provided Kayla with another tool.
‘If he misbehaved, Kayla would give him a warning, and if he didn’t change his behaviour she’d lock away one of his favourite toys for a time.’
Kayla says Laura’s ideas worked a treat. ‘Giving Callis a warning works brilliantly. I think I’ve only ever had to lock one toy away. Callis is calmer and follows instructions better than before.’
Adds Laura: “Allowing children to rule the roost is doing them an injustice. You’re the adult and you can guide children gently but firmly towards good behaviour. It will help them in the long run.”
“There’s been a big movement away from physical punishment, which is right, but it’s somehow got confused with people understanding concepts like consequences and boundaries.
“Parents today are scared of their children. They’ll do anything to stop the tears and it seems like a fearful approach. I don’t advocate letting a child cry for hours, but a few tears here and there are fine. It’s how they express themselves.”