Being a parent or caregiver for a child can be both difficult and rewarding. There are many different challenges you may face as your children grow up, and getting support before you begin and/or along the way can make a significant difference. If you’re interested in benefiting from the wisdom and lessons learned by other parents and the takeaways gained by researchers and other experts, parenting classes may be worth considering. Read on to learn about what parenting classes are, what types may be available, and what kinds of benefits they can offer.
What Are Parenting Classes?
Parenting classes are intended to provide training and education to parents in order to help them improve their knowledge and skills related to caring for and raising a child. There are many different types of parenting classes available. Some are intended to help participants learn how to handle certain, specific issues, while others are centered on a certain phase of life, such as infant care. Others might relate to a certain parenting style in particular, or could be linked to certain cultural or religious modes of upbringing. Still others are primarily intended to create a support network of parents who can lean on each other.
The general goal of these educational opportunities is to provide support and guidance to parents, and to divulge information that can help them decide how best to care for and connect to their children. They’re not just for parents who are having a difficult time or are seeking specific guidance, either. Virtually all parents and caregivers are likely to be able to benefit from classes to expand their skills and support networks, and seeking them out can suggest a dedication to their child’s well-being. Research points to the efficacy of parenting classes as well.
Types Of Parenting Classes
Parenting classes may be offered through hospitals, pediatricians’ offices, community centers, and social service facilities, and countless options can also be found online. Classes may be more general, or may cater specifically to certain groups, such as:
First-time parents of newborns
Parents of children with behavioral or developmental issues
Parents who want to learn new skills
Parents who are having trouble connecting with their older children
Current or soon-to-be foster or adoptive parents hoping to build strong connections with their child
People who commonly care for a child, like grandparents, other relatives, etc.
Many specialized classes also exist to help parents with specific challenges, such as supporting gifted children, managing the effects of developmental disabilities, or handling medical difficulties. From co-parenting after divorce to parenting as an LGBTQ+ couple to fostering or adopting and everything in between—there’s likely a class for that. If your local community doesn’t provide the type of class you want, you might consider taking an online course to meet your needs.
When choosing a parenting class, a good rule of thumb is to start by looking for those that are geared toward parents with children who are the same age as your child. A course on newborns isn’t going to offer much helpful information to the parent of a teenager, for instance. Once you find classes appropriate for your child’s age and developmental stage, you can narrow the list by factoring in elements such as any relevant diagnoses, what you want to learn, and your current or desired parenting style compared to the instructor’s, for instance.
Potential Benefits Of Parenting Classes
There are a wide range of potential benefits that parents and caregivers can gain from taking parenting classes from a reputable organization. For one, “Parent education reduces the risk of child abuse and neglect by encouraging positive parenting practices that promote safety, well-being, and permanency for children and families”. Other benefits may include:
Learning about parenting philosophies and deciding which may be best for your family
Building a happier, healthier family dynamic
Finding out how to correct harmful or counterproductive parenting practices
Discovering practical coping skills to help you positively manage the stress and frustration that can come with parenting
Gaining a support network of others who understand the challenges of parenting
Learning to facilitate difficult conversations with your children
Becoming aware of key developmental stages for children so you know what to expect and when to seek help
Elevating your problem-solving abilities with creative approaches to parenting situations
It’s worth emphasizing that the potential benefits of parenting classes aren’t strictly limited to learning new parenting techniques. They can also provide valuable forms of support for parents and caregivers as they navigate the challenges of their role. Parenting can often make people feel isolated, as if they’re the only ones experiencing a particular issue. However, classes are one way to remind yourself that you’re not alone, and they can help you learn to manage your own health and wellness as you embark or continue on the adventure of parenting.
How Therapy Can Be Helpful For Parents
There are many different ways in which a parent or caregiver may look to improve their skills and get support. Parenting books, blogs, podcasts, and parenting social or support groups are all options to consider in addition to parenting classes. Some parents may also choose to speak with a therapist for expert guidance in managing the challenges they may be facing. They can help you learn how to improve communication skills to better connect with your partner and/or child and discover coping strategies to manage stress, for instance.
Many parents have busy schedules and may find it difficult to attend in-person therapy sessions, or they may have trouble locating a therapist in their area with the parenting-related experience or expertise they need. Online therapy is another option to consider for caregivers in situations like these. With a virtual counseling platform like BetterHelp, for example, individuals can gain contact to a wide range of diverse providers. Once matched, they can speak with them via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging to address the challenges they may be facing. Research suggests that online therapy may offer similar benefits to in-person sessions in most cases, which means you can typically choose the format that works best for you.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about expectations for raising children.
What Are The Challenges Faced By Parents?
Parents can face many challenges, and each parenting journey may be different. However, some of the most common parenthood challenges may include the following:
- Protecting children from social media and online influences
- Coping with a child’s anger
- The potential of post-partum depression
- Navigating conflicting advice and judgment from other parents
- Ensuring the completion of your child’s schooling
- Coping with tantrums
- Navigating childcare programs and work
- Coparenting or divorce challenges
What Are The Benefits Of Responsible Parenthood?
Responsible parenthood can be crucial for the healthy development of your child. Studies show that children raised by authoritative parents have higher self-esteem and life quality than those taught by permissive, neglectful, or authoritarian parents. When you use healthy parenting tools like parent education programs, you can learn more about avoiding child maltreatment and supporting your children’s growth and well-being.
How Do You Teach Good Parenting?
You're not alone if you’re unsure how to be an effective parent. People aren’t often born with parenting skills. In these cases, it may be helpful to take online parenting classes, which can guide you through specific behaviors and skills. You’ll learn about parenting styles, nature vs. nurture, coping with childhood anger, and answers to common parenting questions. After the completion of the course, you may also achieve a certificate as a reminder of what you’ve learned.
Parents can find online parenting classes through the Online Parenting Programs website, which offers free and paid options. At the completion of one of their programs, you will receive a completion certificate in the online parenting class within a few business days. Register for free to start and complete a program or online parenting class through their site.
How Does Good Parenting Affect The Behavior Of A Child?
Positive parenting can allow children to feel safe, trusting, and loved in their home environment, improving their mental and physical health and well-being. Children who know their parents respect them may also experience a more complete sense of self, knowing they can explore themselves without judgment. Children may act out less, have higher self-esteem, and help out more at home when they are loved and cared for properly by their parents. This response may be due to a child's secure attachment style, which can form when a parent securely supports and loves them, meeting all their needs, including emotional ones.
It may be helpful to consider online parenting classes to learn more about raising a securely attached child. The Attached Child is one program that teaches parents how to support their children's attachment. This course is self-paced, meaning you can take as long as you want to complete it, whether it takes two business days or a few months. Online parenting classes like these can be a beneficial investment for parents who don’t know about attachment. However, meeting with a family therapist or attachment therapist is also recommended to understand your child’s unique needs, as online courses cannot offer therapy advice.
How Do Parenting Styles Influence Development?
Parenting styles have been found to impact childhood mental health and well-being significantly. One study found that authoritative parenting, one of the healthiest parenting styles, was associated with improved socialization in children. In contrast, permissive parenting was associated with negative socialization and unhealthy behaviors in children. Another study found that children with authoritarian parents acted out more, threw more tantrums, and were unhappier.
How Important Is Parenting In The Development Of The Child?
Parenting is the most crucial ingredient in healthy child development. A child who experiences significant trauma, such as seeing their parents in court, losing a parent, or being maltreated, may experience severe lasting impacts into adulthood. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can often develop in childhood due to traumas, emotional neglect, and a lack of love. Contrarily, children who are respected, loved, and cared for by their parents may develop a secure attachment style and be less likely to experience mental illnesses.
How Can Parental Development Influence Child Development?
Although most human growth is complete in childhood, parents can also grow and change. If you notice a part of yourself that you don’t like in your parenting style, you don’t have to accept it. Consider taking a parenting class, talking to an individual therapist, and reading more about child development. Although your brain’s development is complete at age 25, you can continue learning and growing throughout your life. Children may forgive you for your mistakes if you are actively attempting to fix them, apologize, and move forward healthily.
Why Is It Important To Understand Parenting Styles?
It can be essential to understand parenting styles to know what type you have been using with your children. Some parenting styles have been extensively studied as harmful to children, so avoiding those styles can be crucial to your child’s well-being.
Do Parents Influence A Child's Personality?
Part of the personality involves a child’s temperament, thought to be with them when they are born. However, other aspects of personality may develop due to how a child is raised and who they grow up with. This phenomenon is due to the mixture of nature and nurture. Scientists have found that how someone is raised and their genetics can both lead to their overall personality in adulthood.
What Is The Most Effective Parenting Style?
The most effective parenting style is authoritative parenting, not to be confused with authoritarian parenting, which is the unhealthiest. Authoritative parents may have the following traits:
- Respect for their children
- Clear and direct communication and requests
- A healthy understanding of boundaries
- Comfort in giving their children space to learn who they are
- The desire to defend and protect their children from harm
Authoritative parenting is not ignoring maladaptive behaviors or allowing children to govern themselves, as children require adult support and guidance to grow and learn.
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