Learning and Teaching Parenting

Teaching Parenting Skills to Adolescents

High School Education

Many high schools offer child development classes to adolescents -- not just those who are facing a teen pregnancy. Teens learn how children’s brains develop during pregnancy and early childhood and how to create a healthy learning environment for kids. Parenting classes also teach the teens about simple skills such as feeding, bathing and caring for babies and young children. Adolescents might not receive a lot of practical experience in class, but they might apply the information at home with younger siblings, babysitting and working with children.

Hands-on Parenting Practicum

Education programs might partner with preschools and educational centers to give students an opportunity to put educational principles into practice. Teens can read to young children, work with them on crafts and help them learn to recognize letters, numbers, colors and shapes. Your teen would discover how children really learn, because theory and practical experience don’t always provide the same results. Your teen might also apply the classroom principles in other environments, such as employment at a child care center or when babysitting.

Teen Parenting Classes

Teens involved in a teen pregnancy might prepare by taking parenting preparation classes in conjunction with childbirth preparation classes. Those classes might focus on caring for infants and babies. Teens will learn how to feed, bathe and change diapers so they are prepared to do so when the baby arrives. Practice might start with dolls -- many classes use dolls with electronic features that allow teens to experience realistic situations such as babies that cry inconsolably or babies who wake every several hours wanting to eat. Parenting instructors might mentor teens so they have some support in the early months following birth.

Teen Parents in School

Teen parents have a difficult time finishing their high school education and parenting, so many school districts offer teen parents educational programs that include parenting education with on-site childcare. Teens in those programs often spend part of the day in the childcare center caring for their young children under the supervision of early childhood education specialists. The instructors provide hands-on support so the teens and their children get the best possible start while parents also work to complete their high school education.

Parenting Skills for Children With ODD

Strong, Loving Connection

The connection between you and your child will need to be a strong and loving one, according to the Boston Children’s Hospital website. As the parent and the more mature part of this relationship, you must set the tone and pace for the relationship. Strive to find positive ways to encourage and praise your child when you see desired behaviors and actions to help motivate your child and keep as much positive energy flowing as possible. Look for ways to engage in enjoyable leisure and recreational activities with your child as well.


A predictable routine will be of paramount importance for a child with ODD, states the Foothills Behavioral Health Partners website. Structure and predictability breed security and help a child understand expectations and boundaries. Keep household routines structured, with meals, sleep, recreation and responsibilities occurring at predictable times every day. Create clear rules for conduct and expectations and enforce the rules consistently so your child understands the rules and knows what will happen if he fails to comply.

Positive Example

The way you conduct yourself, both with your child and whenever your child observes you, can have a powerful effect on your child’s behavior. Show your child how you want her to behave by modeling this behavior consistently. It may be beneficial to deescalate potential issues to show your child how to avoid conflict, advises Marilyn Adams, LMFT, with Guidance Facilitators. Children with ODD often try to provoke others, so avoiding conflict can set a positive example while avoiding confrontations. Stay calm, resist arguing, maintain your stance and avoid entering into a conflict with your child. Your positive example will also teach your child that arguing with you is ineffective.

Ignoring Versus Acting

There may be times when ignoring your child’s misbehavior is the best course of action to take, advises the Boston Children’s Hospital. When behaviors are inconsequential and annoying, such as complaining about tasks or mild teasing of siblings, ignoring the behavior will avoid giving it too much power and attention. Instead, wait for behaviors you want to encourage and then praise them. On the other hand, act swiftly to deliver consequences for serious misbehavior, such as flagrant rule-breaking, verbal abuse or destroying someone else’s property. Removing privileges and possessions, such as electronics, time with friends and television, can be effective. Require your child to earn these privileges and possessions back with positive behavior.

Help for People With Bad Parenting Skills


Parenting education classes can strengthen families and even help stop abusive circumstances, according to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. Counseling centers, parenting organizations and other institutions often offer classes for people who have bad parenting skills. These classes include workshops that teach parents positive discipline techniques, child development, relationship building and proper communication. For example, the Parenting and Relationship Counseling Foundation provides parents with classes that cover general parenting topics, relationship skills, bully prevention, sibling rivalry and what being a new mom or dad involves.


Teachers don't just educate children. Although it seems as though algebra or biology are the main subjects that your child's teacher focuses on, educators can also help parents find help when it comes to skill-building. Teachers might recognize a problem with the family through what a child says or during meeting times. Additionally, parents can go to the teacher and ask for help to find resources or guidance in terms of correcting or learning new strategies for dealing with their kids.

Parenting Programs

An array of parenting programs are based on research into child and family practices. The U.S. Administration for Children and Families recommends several evidence-based programs. These include national programs that are available in communities, and possibly online and through videos including Guiding Good Choices, The Incredible Years, Nurturing Parenting Programs, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and Staying Connected With Your Teen. While these are just a few of the programs available, parents should ensure that their choice is well-known and based on current research to make the most out of this experience. Parenting programs typically differ from the more basic classes in involvement and duration. For example, the Nurturing Parenting Program lasts for 12 to 48 weeks.

Medical Experts

Knowing where to start when trying to correct bad parenting behaviors isn't easy. If you are looking for help finding resources or have specific questions, start by asking a trusted medical professional such as your child's pediatrician. While the pediatrician is most likely not qualified to counsel you and your family, he can point you in the right direction to find the help you need. Additionally, the pediatrician can provide you with basic information on child development or behavior, and suggestions that are specific to your child.

Common Sense Parenting Classes

Who Attends the Courses?

Any person raising a child may attend these courses. With today's non-traditional families, grandparents, aunts, uncles and non-family members are raising children. The common sense parenting style understands that every person involved with a child needs to understand how to interact within the family unit. Every type of caregiver is welcome to these trainings.

Why Should Parents Take These Courses?

Parents take these courses to learn how to get along with every family member. Those who attend classes do so to gain insight into how the kids are thinking and why they are doing what they do. Because the parenting needs of toddlers is so different from that of teens, often parents will return to the courses to learn new skills to help optimize their parenting style for each stage of their child's life.

Topics Covered

The topics covered vary by the age group of the children, but overall topics include building healthy relationships, correcting problem behavior, communication tips and how-to's for discipline. Other topics covered by various courses include the developmental brain of the child, how children think and how to come to the child's level. The idea behind these courses is to promote an understanding of the child, so the offered courses review what a parent needs to know to bring the most peace to the home.

Teaching Styles

The teaching styles vary. As the mental health associations across the country understand the many different existing learning styles, the courses are set up for nearly every type of learner. Videos are played, audio is offered, written work is sometimes included, and hands-on activities are brought into the classes. If a parent is not understanding the message, there is a chance to talk to the instructor to find out how to get further help. The idea is to help every type of person learn how to make a family unit run smoothly, no matter the educational level of the parents.

Advice on Child Rearing

Building Self-Confidence

A competent attitude in your children helps your child try new things and meet challenges head on. In a 2010 article "Raising Confident Kids" published on KidsHealth and reviewed by D'Arcy Lyness, Ph.D., self-confidence comes from success in achievements. Allowing your child to attempt new things under your supervision builds that success. Whether it is making a sandwich, learning to tie a shoelace or singing a new song, encouraging success in your child is part of good parenting.

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is an important part of good parenting, according to an article entitled, "About Raising Children" published on the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System consists of Alabama A & M University and Auburn University. Even when children are not behaving appropriately, unconditional love should be a given. Children need to know that you will love them without reservation, and without conditions so they have a solid foundation in life.


Discipline teaches children about life consequences, and should be fair, firm and consistent. Consistency is vital so that your children learn that there are consequences for their choices. "About Raising Children" states that you should do what you say you will do. For example, if you tell your children that they will be grounded from the phone for a week if they do not clean their rooms -- and they don't clean their rooms -- then you must ground them from the phone for a week.

Sharing Time

Children who spend time with their parents develop good self-esteem, according to the article, "Raising Confident Kids" on KidsHealth. Listening to what your children have to say and taking an interest in their feelings, activities and education, sends the message that you value them. Whether you are riding bikes together, attending school recitals or sharing a hobby, giving your child the gift of time is part of good parenting.

How to Find a Certified Parent Educator

If you are required to have parenting education by the court, the judge should be able to provide you with a referral to a certified parent educator. Try to get more than one name so you can compare and find someone who meets your needs. If you receive services from a social services agency, or are parenting a foster child, those organizations may be able to offer suggestions as well.

When calling the people or organizations you have identified, be specific about your situation. Tell them about your children, including their ages; the specific difficulty you are having, such as discipline, setting limits, sibling rivalry, etc.; and your specific situation, including who is in the family unit and any other relevant issues. Ask when and where group sessions or workshops are held. If you are looking for a personal coach, ask if they will travel to your home.

Ask about each person’s credentials. There are a number of educational institutions that offer certificates in parenting education. Most of them require 15 to 16 hours of coursework at the graduate level. This means a certified parent educator will usually have a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology or some related field, plus a certificate in parenting education. As an example, Plymouth State University in New Hampshire offers a 15-credit-hour Parenting Education Certificate program, and the University of Minnesota offers a 16-credit-hour Family Education Graduate Certificate program.

Once you have researched and contacted several providers, you will probably find one or more who will meet your needs. At that point, consider whether an individual consultation, group session, workshop or online program will be best for you. If your participation is court-ordered, be sure the program you like will meet the court’s requirements.

State Sponsored Parenting Classes

Co-Parenting Classes

Many states require parents who are divorcing to take courses designed to facilitate cooperative parenting. For example, Connecticut’s state-sponsored parenting classes for divorcing parents “include information about children’s developmental stages, helping children adjust to parent separation, cooperative parenting, conflict management and dispute resolution techniques, guidelines for visitation and parent access.” These divorce-specific co-parenting classes may also focus on helping both you and your child adjust to the stress of the new family arrangement.

Courses for New Parents

Some states offer classes in child development geared toward new parents or the parents of toddlers. The courses may cover issues such as basic childcare, nutrition, how to interact with your child and how to bond with your young child. Some of these programs, such as those offered through Head Start, are available only to families meeting specific income requirements. Additionally, some courses for new parents may be available only to those families with children who have displayed early signs of developmental delays.

Behavioral Issues

Most states offer parenting courses that will help you navigate complex behavior issues, whether they stem from a mental health condition such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or developmentally expected defiant behaviors. For instance, South Dakota offers a “Common Sense Parenting Program” that focuses both on effective behavior management strategies for parents as well as ideas on how to create healthier family dynamics.

In-Home Parenting Classes

Some states offer in-home parenting classes. In these classes, a trained therapist or educator visits the family and works with both the parents and children on issues such as behavior, communication and family dynamics. Parents as Teachers is one such in-home program that focuses on parenting young children. This program is comprehensive and covers many topics, including sleep, nutrition, parent-child bonding and safety. These comprehensive in-home programs are generally available only to at-risk families, such as those with open child protection cases.

Parenting Skills Exercises

Be Together

Spend time each day actively being with your child. Ask her what activity she would like to spend the next 15 minutes sharing with you. Or, ask her to help you with an age-appropriate task, anything from washing dishes to cleaning the car. OneToughJob.org recommends that you resist the impulse to provide directions, ask questions or criticize while performing a task with your child. Instead, take notice of what she is doing and how she is feeling and treat her to plenty of positive praise.

Be a Relationship Role Model

Think about how you interact with others, particularly your spouse. Your children are always watching and learning from their parents and other adults. According to the website for KidsHealth, this doesn't mean you have to do the right thing all the time. Your children need to know that nobody's perfect -- even Mom and Dad. But you can strive to be a good role model by demonstrating traits such as friendliness, generosity and tolerance. Psychotherapist and parenting expert Alyson Schafer recommends asking yourself what your children see each day when they see their parents interacting. Are you loving and kind or cold and dismissive? She advises demonstrating simple kindnesses, such as starting each day with a hug and a kiss.

Be Your Child

Imagine daily life from your child's perspective. Authors Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn, in the book "Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting," recommend that you let go of your own point of view for at least a few moments a day. Think about how your child faces the world. Imagine how you look and sound to your child. When you see yourself, are you being the parent you hoped you would be? Think about how you could conduct yourself differently next time you are rushed, angry or upset.

Be Mindful

Be mindful of your relationship with your child. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware from moment to moment. Pay attention to your child without judgment, according to "Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting." Practice looking at her as though she is perfect just the way she is. Work to accept her even in the moments when you find it difficult to do so. Be mindful of how your expectations of your child affect her and her sense of self-worth. When you are feeling at a loss or angry, stand still and bring your full attention to your child. If you're unsure about how to react, remain silent until you know what needs to be said.

Parenting Programs Taught Nationwide

The International Network of Children and Families

The International Network of Children and Families founded the comprehensive course called Redirecting Children's Behavior. INCAF certifies instructors nationwide, so you have a good chance of finding a class in your area. This class teaches you how to stop arguing and yelling, and teaches you to promote agreement with your child and feel more positive about parenting. The company also offers a children's class to work in conjunction with the parenting class. Other parenting classes include High Conflict Divorce Resolution and Family Support Seminars.

Love and Logic

The Love and Logic program offers parenting programs and classes nationwide. This program focuses on simple techniques that will make parenting more fun and less stressful. Home and School Strategies for Creating Respectful, Responsible Kids teaches parenting techniques that promote child responsibility and problem-solving. You will also learn fun ways to curb power struggles and arguments with your child. Other class titles include 21st Century Solutions for Creating Respectful, Responsible and Self-Controlled Kids and Keys to Helping Kids Cope with Divorce.

The Nurturing Parenting Programs

The Nurturing Parenting Programs offer nationwide group or home sessions, or a combination of both. The program focuses on preventing and treating several levels of child abuse and neglect. Enrolled parents and children attend groups concurrently, where both groups learn self-esteem, empathy, self awareness, how to communicate without hitting and yelling, and several other important aspects of healthy family communication. Programs are organized into prevention, intervention and treatment categories, depending on what the family needs.

Center for the Improvement of Child Caring

The Center for the Improvement of Child Caring offers nationwide, professionally instructed one-day, structured parenting classes. Confident Parenting teaches parents how to use positive discipline, praise and rewards to encourage positive behavior from children. Effective Black Parenting addresses similar techniques as Confident Parenting, but has been adapted for parents of black children. Los Niños Bien Educados is geared toward Latino American parents.

Parenting Skills Activities


Parents need to know what behaviors are normal at each stage of their child’s life. The parenting class should explain milestones such as walking, talking or when your child can be trusted to be alone with younger siblings. Observing your child for these milestones helps you anticipate his needs and lets you know what activities are age-appropriate. The milestone information also lets you know when your child is lagging too far behind or is way ahead of his peers so you can consult a pediatrician or education specialist.


Your children need to know what you expect, the clear limits and consequences of behavior and how to work with you to learn new things. This takes communication. Your parenting instructor could suggest, “Get on your child’s level and look her in the eyes when you talk to her.” This is true for any age child. You might learn how to engage in active listening so your child knows you're listening to her and that you understand what she needs. Other important communication skills include speaking encouraging words to your child, stating limits in positive terms, and expressing unconditional love in word and deed.

Dealing with Disobedience

When setting limits for your child, you need to assess your own behavior to decide whether you are modeling what you want to see, encourages Nigel Vann, senior director at the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. You need to apply age-appropriate methods to discipline. If your toddler doesn’t come when you call, you can walk over and pick him up and make him come with you. That doesn’t work with a teen, so you can apply logical consequences, such as requiring your teen to walk to school if he isn’t in the car when you’re ready to leave for work.

Individualizing Parenting

When you understand your child’s personality, you can parent more effectively, according to Gary Smalley, relationship professional and author of “Homes of Honor.” This information helps you individualize your parenting techniques so you can train your child in an effective manner. Your strong-willed lion child likes to be in charge, so you can put her in charge of cleaning her room or make a game of it for your playful otter child. With a young child, you would observe the child to decide her personality type, but you might discuss the characteristics with an older child and help her understand her strengths, weaknesses and motivations.