With so many different parenting books, training programs, and classes available, it is hard to know the “right” way to parent your children, especially when dealing with behavioral problems, low self-esteem, or all around big and difficult emotions. It is especially challenging when your children don’t seem to know what’s going on themselves, or refuse to talk about it. Unlike adults, children do not often have the abstract thinking and communication skills to express their thoughts and feelings through language. Instead, they share their inner worlds with adults through their natural language: their play.
Empowered Parenting is a unique program that focuses on building the relationship between parent and child and helping you as the parent become more aware of what your child is communicating through their play. Our Empowered Parenting Groups follow the curriculum of Child Parent Relationship Training (established by Bratton, Landreth, Kellam, and Blackard in 2006) which is a highly researched modality of parenting skills training in which facilitators teach parents the same basic skills that beginning play therapists learn. The training is typically done within a group format so that you may process parenting difficulties, as well as give and receive feedback, with others who have had similar experiences. The training encourages parents to spend 30 minutes a week of one-on-one time playing with their children using the unique skills learned in the training.
Specific skills that parents learn are:
- How to respond, not react, to big emotions your child expresses
- How to build self-esteem though encouraging your child’s efforts
- How to set limits while building self-responsibility
- How to give your child small choices so that they can be ready for the big ones later on in life
- How to give consequences for continued misbehavior without making you the “bad guy”
After 10 weeks and only 30 minutes a week of practicing these new skills, you will feel empowered because you better understand your child’s inner world. Better yet, you will have the skills to communicate this understanding with your children, so that they in turn can feel more empowered to take responsibility for their behaviors and express their emotions in healthy ways. Does this mean you will never have an issue with your child ever again? That would be nice, but of course that is not the case. However, Empowered Parenting facilitators understand that there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and are more than happy to help parents work to better understand skills, concepts, or behaviors that seem to be the most difficult to master. Your facilitator will also help you address inevitable imperfect parenting moments and turn them into a teaching and growing experience for both you and your child.
In times when there are no current groups available, or if you believe you are needing more one-on-one attention to work collaboratively with a therapist to build your relationship with your children, we are pleased to offer individual parenting coaching that follows the same curriculum as our Empowered Parenting groups in a more individualized context.
Even though children’s behavior or emotional regulation problems can drive their parents up the wall, Empowered Parenting is different than many training programs in that it teaches parents to focus on the whole child and remember his or her inherent preciousness, while also addressing the behavior and emotional concerns. At the end of the training, the goal is for you and your child to share fewer power struggles and “because I said so” or “what were you even thinking?” moments, and more laughter, play, and happy memories.