<EM>Nanny 911</EM>'s Stella Nanny 911's Stella

Temper tantrums and selfish siblings won't keep the nannies on Fox's Nanny 911 away. In fact, the more screaming children, the better for entertainment value, that is. With the third season upon us (premiering Friday, Sept. 8, at 8 pm/ET), TVGuide.com sought an inside look at the rules and tools of these parenting experts. Here, Nanny Stella reveals how this season will be different, and shares her top piece of advice for every family having trouble at home.   

TVGuide.com: How did you get started being a nanny?
Stella:
I'd always been interested in being a nanny, but it wasn't something I was encouraged to do at school. I would always read about it, and I was involved with kids, but I didn't actually do it until I came to the States 17 years ago. I worked for a family here, and then I went back to school because I decided being a nanny really was my true vocation.

TVGuide.com: What is the hardest part when you're approaching a family?
Stella:
You don't want to come across as though you're being judgmental. I'm classed as the tough one, the no-nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip nanny. I'm a very direct person, but I'm very fair. Sometimes, the hardest part for me is biting my tongue, because there are things I really want to say, which I don't.

TVGuide.com: Do you set up the plan for the family before you even go, or do you really figure it out after observing them?
Stella:
We come up with a preliminary plan, but sometimes it changes because sometimes you see a side of the family that you haven't seen on the raw footage. For example, maybe you think the mom is the underdog, and then when you look at the situation, she's the victim or the martyr. But we have a very general idea of what we need to fix.

TVGuide.com: So pertaining to this season's premiere, do you have more experience turning business-minded dads into family-oriented fathers?
Stella:
I think one of the reasons I helped the Morris family in the premiere is that I'm a really schedule-oriented person in general, and father Craig Morris was ruled by his PDA. We all get 24 hours in a day; it's what we do with them that counts. It was showing him how to find a different thing to focus on when he got through the door.

TVGuide.com: Do you find that parents who bring home the income for the household feel they don't need to deal with the home-parenting responsibility as much?
Stella:
Without generalizing or making a stereotype, yes. Depending on how they were parented, sometimes they'll think, "Well, I brought home the bacon, I've done my job." They don't seem to value the job that the wife has done, or the partner that stayed at home. We've had stay-at-home dads, too.

TVGuide.com: Are there moments that we don't see on the show that really turn people like Craig Morris around?
Stella:
We can't lose sight that this is a TV show and as much as it's meant to be instructional, it's dramatic. It is cut and edited. We as nannies have no involvement or control over that. Our job is to go in and help the family, and it's [the producers'] job to make the TV show. But I agree with you. Sometimes those 14 minutes of angst and four minutes of revelation are too much to comprehend. I don't believe, to the best of my knowledge, that any of those epiphanies or lightbulb moments have ever been staged. They really do get it.

TVGuide.com: Do you still keep in touch with these families, to find out if the impact has really lasted?
Stella:
Some of the families this is just me personally I'm in touch with a lot, some a little, and some not at all. Nor would I be. If you've seen all of my shows, you'll know why.

TVGuide.com: Are there any changes on this new season of Nanny 911?
Stella:
I don't think people will be as frustrated with the revelation side of things. I think you'll probably see that more slowly but surely, as opposed to woof! (like a magic wand). I think there's going to be more diversity this season and more teenagers and older children, as well as the younger ones.

TVGuide.com: More generally, what is the No. 1 problem in most families?
Stella:
The lack of consistency. People start things that they don't finish. They threaten things instead of saying what they really mean. They do things through anger and I'm sure we've all been guilty of that at some time, saying, "I'm sick of you, you're grounded to your room for a month." Unless you can really see that through, it's futile, because then you don't really have credibility with your children.

TVGuide.com: What advice can you give that applies to every family?
Stella:
Be consistent. You have to be on the same page. Set the tone. Once you've set the tone, you have to live by it. I also think that every family should have a set of house rules. In school we have rules; in the workforce we have rules.

TVGuide.com: Coming to America so many years ago, do you think it's different here than it is in England or other countries?
Stella:
I don't think kids being out of control is an issue just here in the U.S. I think that's global. I'd like to think that I am the combination of the good from both countries. But here, we give children too many choices, and they can't handle that. We've given kids way too much respect and not expected that in return.

TVGuide.com: I think people who are watching really can relate to a family that is similar to theirs, and hopefully use your ideas.
Stella:
For me, it's black and white. I think there are two sets of people who watch this show. One is screaming, "I can't believe that family's like that! Thank god my family is not that out of control." And the other is really saying, "Thank you, because it's not just me."

TVGuide.com: Thinking, "I'm not the only one."
Stella:
That sense of relief they must feel. The show's actually reached a lot of people. People have said, "We watch your show and we don't have kids." And my cocky response is, "Yeah, isn't it a great form of contraception?" But truly, a lot of people are tuning in, which is huge, and obviously as much as it is entertainment, we as the nannies definitely hope that they get the instructional side out of it.

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.