Should I Take Parenting Classes? What Can You Learn at Parenting Courses?
Can you Improve Your Parenting Skills and Become a Better Parent?
Any of us with children have likely wondered about these questions:
Can you improve your parenting skills?
How can you become a better parent?
It is a bit of an understatement that parenting a child is a challenging undertaking. Even your best days are filled with seemingly endless responsibilities and tasks from laundry to preparing dinner or bottles, driving the kids to school, or changing a diaper. Sometimes all of the above!
I have four children, ranging in age from 9-14, including a set of twins. When we found out that my third pregnancy was going to result in two more babies, we got a barrage of advice. Then, three months after the twins were delivered, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Suffice it to say, 2003 was a challenging year!
However, I joined a twins/parents group, which probably helped me save my sanity for the first 12 months. Then, I found parenting resources offered through the preschool and later the elementary school and our pediatrician's office. Believe me - I took advantage of every opportunity, especially when free!
Keeping your cool, parenting with love and firm discipline, and - perhaps most importantly of all - learning how to handle "advice" or criticism from other people who might parent differently are all things you can learn at a parenting class.
Types of Parenting Classes
Depending on circumstances of your family, you can choose from a broad range of parenting classes that may be offered in your region:
- Parenting multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Parenting special needs children (autism, cerebal palsy, critically ill children)
- Parenting step children
- Parenting a gifted child
- Parenting skills for older parents
- Parenting adopted children
- Parenting an only child
- Parenting a teen
- Parenting a child with medical issues (ADD, hyperactivity, eating disorders, etc.)
- Parenting as a single parent
- Parenting as a teenage mother and/or father
- Parenting after the death of a parent
- Grandparents raising a child as their own
In addition to live parenting classes, there are increasing numbers of online parenting courses that you can attend virtually. Reference materials, including CDs, books and DVDs are also helpful. These options are much easier for people concerned about setting up child care, or traveling long distances
What you can Learn at Parenting Courses
Participating in a parenting class can be helpful for a number of reasons. There is something about discussing your concerns about raising children with other people that are in the same boat. Opening up and talking about specific challenges and asking questions in a "safe" environment can usually result in the discovery of effective ways to handle common situations.
Plus, its nice to hear that you are not alone! Other moms and dads are addressing similar issues in their households. You are there to help each other.
Parenting courses are led by an expert - usually a pediatrician, social worker, psychologist, etc. They usually bring years of experience to the classes and can respond to questions raised by you or other participants.
When all the advice and instruction from the various parenting courses is boiled down, the basic skills taught include:
- How to protect your child from physical or mental harm
- How to effectively discipline and set limits
- How to ensure your child gets proper nutrition
- How to teach your child skills and provide necessary education
- How to manage anger (the parents and/or that of the child)
- How to experience joy in parenting
The Key to Calm Parenting
Where Else Can You Get Parenting Advice or Support?
If you need advice on where to find a quality parenting class, your best resources are:
(1) the pediatrician's office;
(2) your child's school or day care; and
(3) your religious institution.
You may ask a trusted adult to refer you to a parenting course with a sound reputation.
I have also found that online forums can be a helpful place for obtainin parenting advice, with several important cautionary notes.
First, choose a forum that is moderated. It is helpful to have someone in control and enforcing the rules to stop personal attacks and to ban people from participating when necessary.
Second, take advice with a grain of salt. Unlike parenting classes or courses offered by trained professionals, forums tend to be populated by untrained persons, many of which are looking for an outlet to gain attention! If you have questions about the information you receive in a forum, be sure to ask a pediatrician.
If you have medical questions, always seek professional advice, rather than rely on information gained through a forum.
Parenting Classes for Grandparents
Tips for Attending a Parenting Class
I have been there! I know that it can be stressful and intimidating to walk into a room full of strangers and share personal information related to raising your child.
Consider these tips for attending a parenting class:
1. Listen more often that you speak
2. Ask questions when information is unclear or confusing
3. Wait until the end of class or a break if you would like to speak with the instructor about a sensitive issue
4. Give the class a chance - it might not seem like you have learned much after the first session, but you may be surprised after a week or two
5. Follow up at the end of the course - ask about book recommendations, DVDs or CDs, or additional courses that may be offered to address your specific parenting concerns.
When it comes to Parenting, Keep These Things in Mind!
- You are not alone! No matter the challenges you face as a parent, there is someone else that has been through the same thing.
- Professionals can help, and they want the best for you and your child.
- There is no such thing as a dumb question or a silly worry when it comes to parenting.
- Trust your gut - if something seems wrong with your child, pursue it until you get a satisfactory answer.
- It does take a village to raise a child!
Would you take a Parenting Class?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Stephanie Marshall