Parenting classes provide parents, stepparents and guardians with new methods to motivate, encourage and discipline children. Many are taught through therapists, houses of worship, schools and parenting experts. These classes strive to improve family relationships while providing guidance for raising children. You'll find parenting classes can be generalized, applicable for parents dealing with typical parenting challenges, or specialized, targeting parents struggling with problems related to specific issues, diagnoses or ages.
Parenting classes provide families with new strategies for communication, interactions and discipline. After attending one of these classes, parents may be motivated to implement new approaches that result in improved behavior from their children. Benefits resulting from attending parenting classes often extend months or years after taking the classes.
Formats can vary from class to class, when it comes to ways of presenting the material. One format is general discussion about parenting principles, along with talking about the specific issues facing the parents in the class. Parenting classes may include a variety of full-group, small-group or individual activities, including icebreakers, reading out loud, brainstorming, list making, and goal setting. Role playing the theories and tips learned throughout a parenting class presents parents with the opportunity to practice what they have learned. Question-and-answer sessions, another common component of parenting classes, provide opportunities for parents to ask about topics not covered in the overall course.
Parenting classes extend for various lengths of time. Short parenting seminars may be only a day or two in length, such as those for expecting parents or parents of young children wishing to learn more about strategies for raising their toddlers or preschoolers. More in-depth courses may be held over a weekend or continue once a week for a month or longer, including ones that help parents of children with medical conditions, behavioral issues or who are dealing with separation or divorce.
Families struggling with difficult challenges are greatly impacted when parents attend parenting classes. Parents of children involved in criminal offenses may be required by the court system to attend parenting classes. When children have been removed from their parents’ care due to abuse or neglect, attending parenting classes may be required for reunification between parents and child. Additionally, parents undergoing a divorce may attend parenting classes in an effort to learn new ways to parent their children through the stresses of divorce.
Instructors of parenting classes utilize their training and experience to teach parents new techniques. Some parenting instructors received their knowledge through college courses and professional experience, while others may have learned their skills through hands-on situations, such as foster parenting, teaching or providing therapeutic respite.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Parent Education Programs
- "Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way: A Step-by-Step Approach to Starting and Leading Parenting Classes"; Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott; 1998
- Iowa State University: Parenting Classes
- Womenshealth.gov: Birthing, Breastfeeding and Parenting Classes