Luckily, parenting classes exist to optimize your skills and put your worrying to rest. Parenting classes come in all shapes and sizes, and you can be sure to find one to suit your very needs — no matter how varying they may be throughout your parenthood journey. Parenting classes will help to equip you will all the skills, information, and confidence you need to be the parent you can be (because you can be).
In this article, we will explore 4 big questions about parenting classes:
Why Take a Parenting Class?
When to Take a Parenting Class?
What to Look For in Parenting Classes?
What Are The Best Online Parenting Classes to Take?
Why Take a Parenting Class
Aside from the obvious benefits of taking a parenting class, such as learning the basics of parenting and how to acquire important parenting 101 skills, here is a list of added bonuses you may have not considered. The benefits can be gained from both face-to-face and parenting classes online.
1. Boost your parenting confidence
Believe it or not, confidence is crucial to parenting. If your child doesn’t believe that you know what you’re doing, this could not only cause them to lose confidence, as well, but also to have a more difficult time trusting you and others.
So, what does this have to do with parenting classes? Easy. Parenting classes provide you with the best resources, tools, and information to help you tackle parenting in a suave and confident manner. You’ll learn about all the things that you are doing correctly, and you’ll be able to stop the small mistakes well before they happen. Plus, you will to meet other parents that are in a similar boat — this will help you to realize that your struggles are felt by many, and that you are not the only one. This, alone, is a major confidence booster: every parent, at many points in the journey, feels like they are going mad.
This contagious confidence will then be passed onto your kids — really, you’ll smile when you see it.
2. Stay up-to-date on the latest research and findings
As a parent, we sometimes try to intuitively feel out a situation and end up just winging it. Why? Because it simply seems like the best thing to do in the moment. Luckily for us, in this highly developed year of 2018, there have been a great number of people who have spent their lives researching what we should do in these various, yet particular, situations.
Staying up-to-date on the latest research can help you to know exactly what to do, because not everything turns out as intuitive as we’ve hoped it would be.
For instance, did you know that studies have shown that it can actually cause your child harm to tell them that they are smart when they do something impressive? Seems strange, doesn’t it? However, motivation researcher, Carol S. Dweck, has studied this type of praise and has found that when children believe that they succeed because they are smart, they believe that they are the opposite of smart (dumb) when they struggle to succeed at something. This kind of makes sense, right? So, instead, Carol suggests that you should focus your praise on their hard work, problem solving abilities, perseverance, and overall process. This type of praise promotes a “growth mindset,” and can keep your child excited about learning.
Parenting classes tend to know all the latest findings about how to completely excel at parenting. The facts you will learn in a class will inevitably shock you and perhaps turn some ideas you may have had about parenting on their head. The future versions of your child/children will thank you.
3. Learn to match your parenting style with your child’s personality
Parenting is not a one-size-fits all deal. In fact, parenting styles should be tailored differently for every individual child. For example, a rowdy, outgoing child with a tendency to challenge authority will require a different parenting style than that of a child that is shy, timid, and has difficulty opening up.
According to a study done at the University of Washington, by using a parenting style that is tailored to their child’s unique personality, their child’s tendency to become anxious or depressed is cut in half.
This, again, is where parenting classes can save the day. There are different types of parenting classes for different types of children: children of different ages, tendencies, needs, personalities, etc. Perhaps your first child was more of the freebird type, and your second child is more of the self-repressed type; in this case, it would be wise to learn a new parenting approach for your second child.
4. Make valuable connections
If you take a parenting class in person, one of the most valuable assets you will recieve is the connections you make with other parents. As a parent, it’s easy to get lost in the (sometimes overwhelming) world of raising kids — this can make parenting seem like an isolating and lonely task. The wonderful people you will get to engage with in your parenting classes will be in the same boat as you, and thus, will be able to relate with on you day-to-day challenges. You will be able to collaborate with these awesome, proactive parents on solutions to issues you may share, as well as offer loving support and encouragement to one another.
5. Learn how to meaningfully engage with your child
Did you know that parental involvement is a crucial factor in your child’s academic achievement? Studies show that this involvement is even more important than the quality of school your child is enrolled in. However, while this fact may seem like Parenting 101, it is possible to be overly involved. How will you be able to find the right balance of involvement? After all, we don’t want to push our children away.
Parenting and co parenting classes can help you assess your child’s unique personality and their current stage in life to find the perfect parental-engagement sweet spot. Once you’ve found that sweet spot, parenting classes can help to give you advice on mindful questions to ask your child and strategies on to more effectively engage in their projects, activities, and studies. These tips will have your child excited to share their selves, their struggles, and their achievements with you.
When to Take a Parenting Class
So, when should a parent take a parenting class? To answer this in one word: anytime.
There are a cornucopia of different types of parenting classes; a different class for each age, stage, and issue. Classes can focus on particular age groups, such as infants, toddlers, school-age, preteens, and teenagers. However, they can also focus on developmental stages, such how to potty train your toddler, how to integrate your child into public schools, how to have the “birds and bees” talk, and so on.
Furthermore, there are different classes for unique issues, such as dealing with school bullying, domestic and sexual abuse, substance abuse, anger management, and any other issue you may feel uncomfortable talking about with your friends, family, and coworkers. For classes like this, the support system and guidance you will have in a parenting class is especially precious and appreciated.
Aside from taking parenting classes throughout your child’s personal stages of development, taking parenting 101 classes before you child is even born is also a great idea. These classes can teach you parenting 101 skills, as well as how to make informed decisions and proper prenatal care. This way, you can ease that pregnancy anxiousness, optimize your (and your baby’s) health, and be confidently prepared well before your sweet child arrives.
In addition, there are many court-ordered classes available, such as co parenting classes. Co parenting classes are great for helping parents go through difficult transitions and/or life’s unexpected challenges. Co parenting classes offer parenting 101 types of courses, as well as more tailored courses.
What to Look For in Parenting Classes
Before getting excited and throwing yourself into the first parenting or co parenting class you stumble across, it is important to look out for a few key qualities in the classes you are searching (and you should research quite a few before settling on one). Here are few helpful questions to ask yourself during your search.
1. Does it fit my child’s age group and/or needs?
While this may seem obvious at first, it reported to be a common mistake. A parenting class could seem absolutely perfect; yet, you may be a bit disappointed if you show up the first day, ready to learn about potty training your toddler, and discover the class is about communicating with your teenager.
To avoid this all-too-common mistake, be sure to search for classes that are relevant to you and your child’s specific needs. Don’t be shy to search for classes that are ultra-specific, such as how to help your preteen with body image issues. Especially if you live in a large city or plan to take a parenting class online, you’d be surprised at how topic-specific and in-depth parenting classes in can be. In other words, don’t just settle on a class about the developmental changes of early adolescence; start your search very specific, and work your way outward if you don’t find something.
Also, read the fine print! Let’s say you are having difficulty with potty training your child, and want to find a class specific to potty training. While a class may mention potty training, it could be a parenting 101 class the covers potty training, but isn’t specifically geared toward it.
2. What are the teacher’s qualifications?
When searching for the best parenting class for you, be sure to check out the instructor’s credentials — most parenting classes will post the instructor’s bios/credentials on the website; if they don’t do this, be weary. Look for not only highly qualified people, but for people with experience (A.K.A. parents).
Also, be sure to read reviews on the class!
3. Is it an interactive class?
We learn best and absorb the most information when we are really involved. For this, it is important to find a class that is immersive and interactive, rather than one that just posts Powerpoint slides and gives a lecture. Look for one that includes a forum (for parenting classes online) or discussion with other parents, sometimes the most valuable information we will take away from a class will come from them. Plus, we always enjoy knowing what other parents are doing in any given situation.
Note: Taking parenting classes online will be far less interactive than face-to-face parenting classes. We will discuss more about online parenting classes later on.
4. How long is the class?
Another common mistake parents make when signing up for a parenting class is overwhelming themselves. Sometimes, it can be difficult to fit a class into a parent’s busy schedule. For that, it is important to check out roughly how long the class is, and how many hours a week it will take up. This way, you can wisely plan out your week and availability.
Many online parenting classes are better suited for busy parents, as you are more able to take the parenting classes online at your own pace.
5. What does the parenting class cost?
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s a vital point in fine-tuning your Perfect Parent Class search.
6. Is the class positive?
As sad as it may seem, some parenting classes have a “doom and gloom” attitude, making every age and stage seem near apocalyptic in their nature. This certainly isn’t the case. As well, some classes have a shaming, blaming, and flaming vibe — these are also important to avoid.
The happy, positive, and helpful classes far out number the negative ones, however. So, your endeavors in finding a class that is warm-hearted should be fruitful.
What Are The Best Online Parenting Classes to Take?
While narrowing down the parenting classes in your local area may be a relatively easy task, finding an online parenting class may prove to be a bit more of a challenge. Why? There are so many to choose from!
There are a variety of parenting classes online to suit your family’s needs, no matter how specific they may seem. Most courses are designed for children within a broad age range, but many focus on the details of specific ages and stages (from infancy to teen). Some classes target individual topics like conflict resolution, discipline, and communication, while others are more broad and cover topics such as proper nutrition or infant care.
To help you narrow down your online parenting classes search, we’ve made a list of the top 3 online parenting classes — each class is unique, but they are all fantastic.
1. Meghan Leahy Parent Coach
Name of class: From Conflict To Cooperation: Understanding and Preventing Power Struggles With Your Children
Age group: 2.5 – 11 years
Length of time: 4-week course
Meghan Leahy is a certified counselor and parent coach (M.A.), as well as a mother to 3 daughters. Her approach is multi-pronged, using a combination of personal experience, counseling knowledge, Buddhism, and practical wisdom to “bring light, laughter, and love into your home.”
In her 4-week online class (intended for children between 2.5 and 11), From Conflict To Cooperation: Understanding and Preventing Power Struggles With Your Children, you will have access to 11 total lessons (that take 15 – 20 minutes to complete) and 31 optional follow-up activities. As well, you will have access to other resources including private calls, and access to the private FB page where you can join the community of parents bringing cooperation into their parent-child bond.
In the lessons intended for the first week, Meghan breaks down power struggles and triggers to help you clearly assess your relationship. In the second week, she explain how you can develop a greater connection with your children and covers some basic neuroscience. In the third week, she covers how to effectively balance self care and family time, as well as what self care and family time should look like. In the final week, she explains why kids behave the way they do, and shares her approach to discipline.
This course is available on Meghan’s Parent Coach website, for $236.
2. The Science of Parenting
Name of class: Parenting101x
Age group: All
Length of time: 5 weeks, 3 – 5 hours/week
Dr. David Barner is one of the foremost experts in cognitive development and is a professor of Psychology and Linguistics at UC San Diego. He studies children across the globe to better understand how humans develop language, thought, and logical reasoning.
In Parenting101x, Dr. Barner demystifies scientific research regarding children and parenting. He surveys scientific findings in key topics including diet, discipline, the nature of learning, genetics of behavior, impulse control, and sleep — and features experts (and real parents) in these topics to translate scientific data into practical advice. He also covers a variety of questions, like why children have nut allergies, and how children develop autism.
In the first week, Dr. Barner explains the nature vs nurture debate, and explores behavior genetics. The second week covers the language of learning, music, preschool, and screen time. The next week entails research on family structure, self control, and morality. The fourth week contains information on autism and vaccination, as well as sleep, diet, and breastfeeding. The final week explores learning styles, achievement, and homeschooling. While the course is intended to be taken over 5 weeks, you can set the pace as fast or slow as you want.
This online course is provided by EDX, a non-profit that hosts hundreds of free college courses from the best universities.
3.) Positive Discipline
Name of class: Positive Discipline
Age group: 2 – teenage
Length of time: 6 lessons, 5 hours total
Dr. Jane Nelsen, a psychologist and mother of 7, leads these unique parenting classes online by exploring how to build mutual respect with your children through positive discipline. The information from her best-selling series, Positive Discipline, is compiled in the course, and her approach to parenting is based on kindness, respect, and firmness.
This course is a little different from most courses, as Dr. Nelsen’s own daughter joins her and a therapist to discuss parenting from personal experience and scientific perspectives. The course explores the principles of positive discipline over 6 videos. Her online parenting classes come with a workbook filled with meaningful activities and supplemental resources. Other resources provided by the course include podcasts and access to the comment section of Positive Discipline, where you can find other parents with questions, answers, and personal experience.
This course is available for purchase for only $69 at the positive discipline website.