January 15th, 2016
or Zen and the Art of Parenting
by Rachel Cuperman, a Parent Practice client who did our 10 week course.
I first came across the idea of parenting classes several years ago. A friend had enrolled on a course to improve compliance levels at home with her two school-age kids. It seemed to involve pasta shapes in jars and being Very Positive and I remember at the time thinking “Why would you need to go on a course about parenting? Surely, it’s something you just, well, get on with?”
In my defence, I was then a newly minted mum. A total and utter neophyte. My bouncing baby boy spent his waking hours gurgling happily, when he wasn’t smiling benevolently. The behaviours of older children were still a mystery to me. Like a far away land, full of temper tantrums and tears. A land I secretly hoped never to visit. Hah.
Three years and another new baby later and the picture was rather different. My contended baby boy had turned into a strapping 3 ½ year old, with a will of iron and a frankly awesome temper. Our son was (and is) a joy. Loving, kind, affectionate and great fun. Until he didn’t get his way, that is. Anything that deviated from his agenda was met with nuclear strength resistance, violence and histrionics. It wasn’t uncommon for him to soil himself in fury. Each day became a series of skirmishes that ended in tears, exhaustion and remorse, on both sides. But the pattern repeated itself, over and over.
My husband and I tried everything we could think of to get a handle on the situation. In terms of discipline, we didn’t consider ourselves to be pushovers. We’d read the childcare books, watched the programmes, canvassed friends for their advice. We’d reasoned, cajoled, punished, done star charts and elaborate reward systems. But nothing worked, for longer than a day or two anyway.
Crunch time came when my son, in the grip of fury, kicked his nursery teacher. Being summoned to come and remove him was a mortifying and deeply upsetting experience, for all of us. We were now desperate and totally stumped. We didn’t understand why our son was so angry and what we could do to help him curb his undesirable behaviour.
It was at this point the friend at the start of this story aimed me back in the direction of The Parent Practice. And for this I will always be grateful. When I plucked up the courage and phoned them, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got was the very sympathetic ear of the Elaine Halligan, one of the organisation’s excellent Facilitators. Elaine listened carefully as I outlined our situation. She was compassionate, practical and most importantly, said she felt she could help us turn our situation around. We decided to meet her for an initial consultation. And that consultation proved to be the start of a transformative journey.
Once she’d got the measure of our family set up, Elaine introduced us to The Core Skills: a set of tools and strategies which are designed to help parents cope with the myriad challenging situations that arise in daily life with kids, and are at the heart of what The Parent Practice teaches.
The first skill we learnt was “Descriptive Praise”. In action, this means noticing and mentioning the small good things your child does rather than focussing on the negative or on what they haven’t done. The thinking behind this is that your children are hard-wired to get your attention, positive for choice. I already knew that it was a good idea to praise children, but this type of praise is different from the ‘good boy’ kind I was used to. The more specific you can be in your appreciation, the more likely it is they’ll be motivated to repeat the behaviour. Essentially, you train them into good habits with positive reinforcement.
I can honestly say that using this single skill was transformative. It didn’t magically remove our problems but it made a massive difference. Immediately. Heartened by the results, I booked myself onto the course to learn more and I can honestly say its one of the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done.
The other parents I met were terrific. All of them were grappling with issues of their own. The weekly sessions gave us all the space to listen, think, discuss and laugh together and proved to be a great support.
As far as our little family goes, I can report that our son is a reformed character: happy, relaxed and much more able to cope with disappointment and take the rough with the smooth. The tools that we have acquired help both ourselves and our son cope better with difficult situations. And I’m sure its no coincidence that these situations now happen less and less often.
August 27th, 2010
“Why on earth are you doing a parenting course? Your children are ok. You don’t have any major difficulties, do you?”
Sound familiar?…….this is indeed a very typical response that many of our clients report back to us when they tell family and friends they have signed up for a 10 week parenting course.
Positive parenting means using warmth, love, respect, consistency, good communication and empathy in the way you behave with your child. Often our natural reaction isn’t thought through, we are caught unprepared and have a short fuse, shout, blame, criticise and punish.
Skills such as reflective listening and descriptive praise can be taught and learned. These can change your view of parenting and help you understand why children behave as they do at each stage – helping you to remain calm and in control, and react in positive and constructive ways. Using the skills and strategies helps to motivate your children to behave positively – a win win situation for both parent and child.
Why not give it a go…a 10 week course is a small price to pay for a lifetime of skills and who doesn’t want to get it right for their kids and do the best job they can possible do?
Read a client’s article about her experiences on the course
Courses start w/c 13th Sept – book here http://www.theparentpractice.com/book-a-course-now.html
July 24th, 2010
Anyone read Sue Palmer’s book “Toxic Childhood” and started panicking that all the modern technology is having a hugely harmful effect on our children, not to mention ourselves? I have only just started tweeting; blogging and facebooking and find myself fascinated about this social networking world and realise perhaps how easy it is to become addicted! As adults we hope we are able to exercise some form of self control, but how easy is that for our kids?
Is it little wonder therefore that Sue writes about how the modern world is affecting how our children are growing up?
A general deterioration in children’s learning and behaviour is being reported throughout the world, and Sue Palmer, a leading authority on literacy, looks through all the different reasons for this and shows how they are connected, rather than focussing on or blaming any one particular issue. She suggests there is a fundamental clash between “our technology driven culture and our biological heritage” because children still develop and mature at “human speed” whereas the world around them moves at “electric speed”.
What does this mean for us as parents? It means we need to be really clear about our values and the importance of good nutrition, adequate sleep, plenty of opportunities to play, quality childcare and ensuring good forms of communication. We need a good toolkit of skills to achieve all this!
Can you detoxify your life? Look out for The Parent Practice course on Children’s use of TV, internet and electronic games – Keeping Children Safe and Healthy – click here for more details.