By Melissa Hood, SW Magazine Jan 2005
If we want to improve our fitness, we go to the gym and get a personal trainer. If we are suffering with back problems we might take a course in Pilates. Golf coaches are available for those who want to improve their technique… so why not go to parenting skills classes? The Parent Practice “calmer, easier, happier parenting” courses are a practical way to improve the atmosphere at home and help children become more cooperative and confident. They have a number of courses on offer to suit parents, teachers and nannies.
Parents’ frustrations often revolve around “morning mayhem”, “homework horrors” or “bedtime battles”. Emma, who came to parenting skills classes at the centre in Thurleigh Road, said that she had decided that mornings were so gruesome that it was time to do things more positively. She frequently found herself losing her temper in the morning, shouting, nagging and threatening her two children (4 and 6 years) and felt awful about it once she dropped them at school. Emma said it was a huge relief during the classes to hear from other parents the stresses they experienced as well. She was advised to draw up a detailed chart listing all the jobs that the children needed to do in the mornings and each task completed earned a tick or a star. Her class leader encouraged focus on praising the children specifically for what they had achieved rather than criticising them for being slow or forgetful. The changes Emma put in place made a huge difference in the atmosphere at home. The children became happier and more motivated, they had more time to eat breakfast calmly and Emma continued to praise them on the way to school, leaving them at the school gate feeling happy and good about themselves. Her daughter Charlotte said one day “Mummy, you are much nicer these days because you went to school to learn how to shout less!”
Claire first came to a workshop run at a local school (Honeywell School) called “Positive Discipline, what to do when your child says ‘No’”. Claire was sceptical at first that the positive approach discussed during the workshop could work with her son (7 years old) who was demanding, defiant, and prone to temper tantrums. She decided to try something new the next evening, “Joe, thank you for coming to the table when I called you and sitting down straight away”. Joe looked at her suspiciously… “I also noticed that you remembered to bring home your reading book, that’s great”. Instead of encountering whining and demanding Claire noticed Joe’s mood was noticeably improved. He even asked if she would play a game with him rather than skulking off to watch TV!
The Parent Practice’s top ten parenting tips for improving relationships with your children:
- Praise each of your children specifically. Instead of “well done” or “good boy” say “You hung up your coat, without being asked, that’s very responsible.” Notice and pay attention to the tiny little good things.
- Don’t criticise, scold or point out to your children what they’re doing wrong –it will not motivate them to improve.
- When you’re asking your children to do something get them to repeat back what it is you’ve just asked.
- Encourage your children to talk to you by really listening, that is without doing anything else at the same time.
- Children’s poor behaviour is almost always caused by an emotion, hunger, tiredness or the need for attention.
- When things go wrong don’t make a drama of it but require your child to make amends and think through how to prevent that behaviour arising again.
- Apologise for your own mistakes and let your child see how you clean them up.
- Think through effective, proportionate and relevant consequences ahead of time so you don’t end up making threats that you’re not prepared to follow through.
- Use non-material rewards like extra stories, bubble bath, playing a game or video night with popcorn and make sure your child knows specifically how they earned the reward. “You were so quick getting out of the bath that we have time for two stories now”
Contact The ParentPractice, UK based providers of positive parenting courses to improve your parenting skills.
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