While there is no perfect way to parent, plenty of support and education is available through parenting classes to help answer common parenting questions and let you know that you are not alone in the daily struggles you face. What type of parenting class best fits your needs depends on your unique family situation, but here are a few places to help you get started.
Parenting Gifted Children—These class types are aimed at helping parents educate and support their gifted child throughout school.
Parenting a Child With Medical Needs—Parenting classes are often available for children who may need support and education for hyperactivity, eating disorders, and breathing conditions, such as for children with asthma.
Parenting Multiples—These classes are aimed at parents of twins, triplets, and more.
Parenting Special Needs Children—Many parenting classes offer assistance to parents of children with behavioral issues, autism, and cerebral palsy. An example is the STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) program to help parents understand children’s behavior. The training is broken up by the child’s age.
Parenting Stepchildren—These classes are aimed at new stepparents as well as older parents.
Parenting Theorists—Many parenting classes will choose a parenting “theorist” whose materials, such as books and videos, will be used during the course. Some examples of parenting theorists include:
- Active Parenting
Theorist: Child and family therapist Dr. Michael H. Popkin
Active parenting classes are taught worldwide and focus on helping parents achieve balance in their lives, enhance communication with their children, and navigate difficult situations.
- Attachment Parenting
Theorist: Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
Attachment parenting focuses on meeting a child’s basic nurturing needs through the three p’s: proximity, protection, and predictability. Attachment parenting is not intended to be a strict guide to parenting, but instead to help parents establish their parenting style.
- Confident Parenting
Theorist: Behavioral psychologist Dr. Robert Aitchison
Dr. Aitchison developed this program in the early 1970s after receiving a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Since this time, the confident parenting program focuses on how a child’s behavior is shaped by society and the consequences parents give for positive and negative behaviors.
- Positive Discipline
Theorist: Dr. Jane Nelsen and co-authors Lynn Lott and Cheryl Erwin
Positive Discipline is a program designed to give parents the tools to teach their children social and life skills as well as to discipline their children in a constructive manner that has long-term results.
If you’re considering a parenting class, try local hospitals, extension agencies, universities, your pediatrician’s office, and even churches for references to parenting classes. If these are not available in your area, many parenting programs offer online classes and books as an alternative.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- A variety of parenting classes exist, from addressing special-needs issues to teaching a child discipline and life skills.
- Parenting classes are available at hospitals, extension agencies, universities, pediatrician’s offices or religious organizations.
- Parenting classes are also available online and through instructional DVDs.