Kim and Jay Frost finally admitted that when it came to
disciplining three-year-old-daughter, Rachel, screaming and spanking
weren't working. "She started getting really feisty, and we wanted
to learn other ways to deal with her," says Ms. Frost.
In September, the Frosts headed back to school to learn new
parenting skills. The couple signed up for a five-week seminar
called, "10 Steps to Positive Discipline" through Parent University
"The class taught us that parenting is an ongoing learning
process," Frost says. "It has been really helpful; we are much more
patient and I'm not yelling as much."
Frost also says the class taught her how to discipline her
children in more positive ways. "We are trying to be much more
communicative instead of just giving out punishments," she says.
"The class taught us that when we are calm, the kids are calm."
Parents across the country are signing up for parent education
programs that offer instruction on everything from discipline and
anger management to improving communication skills.
Parenting courses have been popular for some years now, but
parent educators say that today they're seeing a different kind of
parent filling their classrooms. "Ten or 15 years ago it was more
about court-ordered sessions or people who had to take [parenting
classes]," says Lynne Ticknor, a certified parent educator in
Maryland. "These people who are already very good parents, really
good parents. They just want to be even better."
Once upon a time, Ms. Ticknor says, parenting classes stayed
focused on the basics. But now they've had to branch out. "We don't
even talk about neglect with these parents, or about how often to
change a diaper."
Instead, she says, today's classes are apt to narrow in on topics
like fostering good reading skills, learning how to encourage
children, and honing better communication skills.
"Parent education programs encourage [parents] to add two or
three action items to their lives to make their parenting work
better for themselves and their families," adds Peggy Senn, parent
education specialist at Parent University.
Last year more than 4,000 parents signed up for classes at Parent
University, a program offered through the Mesa Public School
Many reasons for attending
Senn believes the reasons parents attend classes are varied.
"Some parents are at the end of their rope and need help with a
specific problem and others are trying to head off a problem before
it starts," she says. "Some parents only want one session on a
specific topic and others want more in-depth learning."
A desire to sharpen their parenting skills drew Alan Bennett and
Lea Keohane to sign up for the Incredible Years, a 12-week parent
education class offered through Morrison Child and Family Services,
in Portland, Oregon. …