Inside: If you have never taken a parenting class, check out these surprising tips that came up during an amazing 8 week parenting course. I didn't expect this!
I love reading personal growth and development books, and parenting is one part of my life where I really strive to continue to grow. I didn't start out as- nor will I ever be- a perfect parent. But that doesn't mean I cannot keep trying to get better at it.
In my 11 years as a parent, one thing I do not seem to lack is the ability to second guess myself.
I've almost taken a parenting course several time. I finally found one that was a good fit, and decided to go for it- and I am SO glad I did it!
The one I chose is by an amazingly supportive duo at Cardigan Academy. I love their bio, so I'm not going to mess it up by writing my own:
“Led by a warm and caring therapist-teacher team, Cardigan Academy offers parenting, mental health, and education support. We offer virtual groups and classes, hold 2:1 individual help sessions, and we also have a podcast.”
They definitely live up to the description of warm and caring, and their backgrounds as a therapist and educator really shine when you are learning with them.
Their Parenting Cloup, as they call it, is part class and part group. I was really surprised by a lot of the material we covered.
Three Unexpected Lessons I Learned from a Parenting Course:
1. My kids' behavior starts with my behavior.
The parenting course I took started by talking about the childhood of the parents in the group. This may seem odd- we were there to talk about our children, not our childhood. But it was eye-opening to look at the experiences that developed MY personality, MY communication style, MY parenting style.
As parents, we always say things like, “Kids are like sponges, soaking everything up.” And it is true down to the very basic level of communication. They literally learned most of the words they know, their sentence structure, their intonation- all of it- from us as parents and caregivers.
There is a reason my kid is a mini-me. Living with me is where she learned the majority of her behavior and communication. If I'm sarcastic, she learns that. If I am rude to her or other people, she learns that too. So when I make sure to react and communicate in a respectful, calm, positive manner, she will have that as the main model for how to behave.
Will it cure every meltdown? Nope. Because she's still a kiddo, and her brain is still developing (as we learned in the parenting course). But I can work on being a better example for her as that growing brain soaks things up.
2. Solidarity is Everything.
As I mentioned above, the parenting course I took was taught in a group setting (on Zoom). In fact they call it a Parenting Cloup (Class+Group!).
Before that, most of the times I've taken courses online they have been self paced, so I go through them alone, when I have time.
That set up always seems like it is more convenient and more private for such a touchy subject as parenting. But I found the weekly group discussions beneficial for three reasons:
- Having an appointment means I will actually DO it. All those self-paced courses….they are gathering cyber-dust because I stopped making time for them. I actually finished this course!
- Talking through tough parenting topics with other parents is hugely beneficial. Not griping or swapping complaints, like I used to do at playdates, but actually helping each other troubleshoot, grow and do better.
- I was more engaged and dedicated hearing people speak live, rather than a recording. With other online courses I am often tempted to multitask and I miss things.
3. There is an “Age and Stage” for That!
One of the main topics during this course was about the Ages and Stages that kids go through.
When I was pregnant and when the kids were first born, we had those “What to Expect” books but I feel like I stopped reading when they were infants.
As humans we are going through ages and stages our whole lives. It doesn't end at the terrible twos. It was amazing to hear that so many things we were going through were actually quite normal and developmentally expected.
Things that came to mind were:
- Freaking out about something seemingly minor
- Lying/testing boundaries
- Talking incessantly about Minecraft
- Trying out “new looks”
- Taking quizzes to “find” your personality
Hearing that lying or tantrums are all part of growing up might seem obvious, I mean we all know that, right?
But for me, knowing that it is developmentally appropriate also gave me the presence of mind to be more patient when it happens. To have a heads up, like okay this is normal and here is how we are going to handle it.
It reminds me a bit of baseball. The other team is going to get a hit here and there. It might be a bunt, it might be a high fly ball. If you didn't know it was coming, and you haven't practiced for how you'd react, you have way less chance of fielding that ball. That is why players practice over and over.
So if you want to be ahead of the curve, or even catch up with the curve, knowing the ages and stages is like having a parenting playbook. You can think through the plays before the game starts.
- “I wonder how I'll react when my kid lies?”
- “How can I react if she's sneaking candy?”
- “What will I do to help him next time he has a tantrum?”
- “What will I say when she wants to go to a party with alcohol?”
These are things we can talk about, calmly now, rather than react emotionally in the moment they come up.
Whatever your parenting style, that foresight is just gold.
I already see the lessons from this parenting course paying off, and I love that we are getting to grow stronger together.
Have you ever taken a parenting course? What are some helpful takeaways you found? Let's hear them in the comments below and keep the parental solidarity going!