As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. When you are dealing with behavior problems, however, you may find yourself needing extra support and resources to learn how to manage these parenting issues. Parenting classes, which are often available for free or at little cost, can teach you about your child’s problems and give you practical strategies for using discipline, positive reinforcement and other behavioral motivators.
Parenting classes for children with behavior problems may focus on a number of issues. A common focus for parenting classes for children with behavior problems is psychoeducation, where parents learn about the causes of behavior problems, their effects on the family and information about potential treatments. Likewise, parenting classes usually provide specific strategies for managing problematic behaviors, such as how to formulate appropriate punishments and how to use positive reinforcement. Some parenting classes, such as those offered by the South Dakota Department of Social Services, also focus on parents’ behaviors and teach strategies for staying calm during the child’s outbursts.
In-Home Parenting Classes
In-home parenting classes are typically intensive programs for families struggling with severe behavioral issues. In these classes, trained counselors or parenting coaches visit the family’s home, observe dynamics and lead the family in interventions. The in-home approach allows the parenting course instructor to observe you interacting with your children so that she can provide specific feedback targeted to your child’s unique behavior problems. Additionally, in-home parenting classes often take a holistic approach, addressing issues such as the home environment and nutrition -- factors that can affect a child’s behavior.
Many organizations offer parenting classes, including hospitals, community mental health centers, private therapy clinics and state social service departments. In addition to contacting these organizations directly, your child’s school counselor or social worker may be able to refer you to parenting classes. Likewise, psychologists, pediatricians and mental health counselors can generally connect you to resources in your area. Although some parenting classes are limited to only those families whose children are at risk of out-of-home placement, many are available to the general public.
In “Interventions for Children with or At Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders,” K.L. Lane, F.M. Gresham and T.E. O'Shaughnessy explain that “parent training is the single most effective intervention available for reducing early conduct problems.” Thus, even though other treatment approaches, such as individual psychotherapy or school-based interventions, may be helpful in addressing children’s behavioral problems, parenting classes can be particularly effective, especially if your child is young.