A parenting course is an opportunity to meet with other parents and address a whole range of issues and subjects related to parenting. Most courses will help parents enhance their relationship with their child and then look at how parents deal with troublesome behaviour. The benefit of doing the course with other parents is that it helps people realise that they are not alone -all parents have difficulties sometimes. The other parents on the course can provide friendship, support and encouragement, which can last long after the course has finished. They can also raise problems they have in their family. Other parents listening will be prepared if they experience similar problems in the future. There is often laughter, sharing and a strong sense of camaraderie.
What sort of subjects are covered?
There are a whole variety of parenting courses delivered by different organisations. But most courses will cover a range of the following topics:
Relationship building skills; Descriptive praise, play, talking and listening skills, one-on-one time, unconditional love and acceptance, giving positive attention and empathy,
Social skills; Helping children to make and keep friends and fostering sibling harmony.
Ways to keep children safe and healthy so that they can function well; Healthy eating, dealing with fussy eaters, exercise, family meals, safety and internet safety.
Ways to help children learn; Ways to encourage life-long learning, partnering with schools, reading, managing homework and encouraging persistence
Having fun; family outings, things to do with children, special time, celebrations
Ways to help children become independent; allowing freedom as children mature, helping at home, problem-solving skills and confidence building.
Ways to instil values and morals; modelling, noticing and praising and discussing moral dilemmas
Ways to manage children’s (and adult’s) anger and frustration; ways to regulate emotions, reflective listening and managing tantrums
Good parental skills: Strategies to stay calm, parenting as a team, personal time out, maintaining good adult relationships, using support networks, understanding child development, managing family arguments and dealing with stress.
Ways to help children understand boundaries: setting rules, having clear limits, saying ‘no’ assertively, establishing clear routines and promoting positive behaviour
Ways to deal with misbehaviour: positive discipline, staying firm, being consistent, natural consequences, repeating poor behaviour correctly, distraction, ignoring, time out and learning from mistakes
Of course, it is important for parents to identify which skills they particularly want to develop and make sure that it is covered on their local parenting course. There are many different ‘positive parenting’ providers, so savvy parents check out the course beforehand to make sure it will give them the guidance they need.
There is also sometimes an assumption that people who want to go on parenting courses are poor parents and need to be given the skills to parent properly. In fact, the reverse is true. Parents who seek out parenting courses understand that every parent has difficulties at times, and make the effort to seek help and guidance to do the best for their child. The skills and insights they gain on a parenting course last them for years and enable them to have a much calmer happier home.
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Children don’t come with a manual. Parents often attend courses because they don’t know how to say ‘no’ to their children or pass on their own values and morals. Or their child is misbehaving and they want to learn how to deal with it well. Children need to have rules and boundaries and they need to do things at home that enable them to grow up and become independent adults. They need to learn how to say ‘no’ to temptation and peer pressure. Children need to make the most of educational opportunities and achieve what they are capable of achieving at school. They need to learn how to deal with their feelings when they are upset or annoyed. They also need to not only deal with the pressures of the 21st century but to grow up happy and well-adjusted. Many parents recognise that although they have strengths, in order to do the best job of bringing up their children, it is wise to seek guidance on areas they are not confident.
I love the quote by Michael Levine who said ‘Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.’ I think most parents can relate to that.