Mike shares a number of approaches with "Supernanny" -- an emphasis on structure, boundaries, consequences, consistency, time-outs and positive reinforcement -- but he's got his own inimitable style. Rather than have an observation period, he kicks the parents out of the house and gives the kids a voice by using role-playing techniques to determine some of the root problems, as the parents watch from a monitor. In the case of the Marko family of Temecula, California, parents Doug and Tracy have their hands full with three young daughters, Gwen, 7, Alexa, 4 and Jacinda, 8 months. Gwen seems to be the instigator of trouble-she treats her parents disrespectfully, yelling "Leave me alone, woman!" to her mother, and homework time can run over two hours with her antics. With Alexa now learning from Gwen, an overwhelmed Doug and Tracy are at their wits' end. The house is, sadly, filled with anger and chaos, but Super-Manny is here to give the Markos a call to action.
Mike quickly discovers that Gwen feels very negatively about her relationship with her Dad, who often resorts to smacking and spanking the children, which Mike doesn't approve of. He introduces some key tips for diverting Gwen's anger, such as the "Whack-a-Pillow" technique, as well as for minimizing Doug's own temper, as he vividly demonstrates the domino effect when Doug cannot maintain his cool. Mike shows the Markos how to ease homework heartache by calming the environment around Gwen and changing the way they interact with her when her frustration rises.
When Mike sends Tracy out of the house and puts Doug in charge all day long, Gwen freaks out. But Super-Manny is prepared. His technique involves coaching Doug through some of the toughest challenges via an earpiece dubbed "Mini-Mike," while Mike watches their interactions on a monitor in another room. He can literally adapt his advice moment-by-moment to suit the family's needs. Later in the episode he also uses a play-by-play demo to show the parents where their parenting skills are succeeding and where they need bolstering.
About Mike Ruggles
Mike works as a developmental therapist for children, working in the home with families teaching parents how to better interact with their kids, many of them with special needs such as autism, developmental delays, sensory integration disorder, etc. Prior to that he was a classroom teacher for children ages preschool through junior high in Santa Monica , California, and also served as a sports director, coach, and tutor as well as a Special Olympics volunteer coach earlier in his career.
If he could give one piece of advice to families everywhere, Mike would encourage parents to play with their children and get to know them. Kids change all the time, and the best way to stay connected is to actually spend time with your children. He feels that kids should find their parents more exciting than a computer or TV, and that parents need to create consistency for their kids, especially when there are numerous caregivers (extended family members, babysitters) involved with their children. He cites his mom as his hero-she single-handedly raised Mike and his brother and helped him realize that anything was possible with hard work. She worked nights to become a head nurse and college graduate while still managing to attend most of his extra-curricular activities. Mike resides in the Chicago area.