Learn how to handle your child's behaviors through parenting classes to boost your understanding.

Parenting Classes for Children With Behavior Problems

by Erica Loop

While you might wish that your precious little one would act like an angel, chances are she has her share of not-so-well-behaved moments. If your child's misbehavior transforms from common issues to a true problem, you may feel lost when it comes to dealing with her issues. Instead of going it on your own, parenting classes that deal specifically with behavior problems can help you to understand the how's, why's and what to do's.

1. Finding Classes

If you know, or at least think, that you need the help of a parenting class to handle your child's behavior problems, finding a program is the first step. Parents who have a child with an actual diagnosis such as ADHD can go straight to the medical or psychological professional who gave your little one the diagnosis. Your child's doctor or evaluation clinician can provide you with a list of parenting classes to take through your local medical center or hospital, community psychological services, schools or early learning centers and other child development organizations. In the event that your child has problem behaviors that don't include a diagnosis, you can start at your pediatrician.

2. Individual or Group

Not all parenting classes look like the traditional picture of a workshop-type program. Some classes are individual and provide help to you -- or you and your family -- in a one-on-one type of environment. Other classes look more like the typical idea of a group or school-like setting. The U.S. Administration for Children and Families notes that while a combination of both types of classes is effective for parents who need to access social supports and services, families that require specific instruction -- such as in behavior problems -- can benefit more from individual sessions. This allows the parenting instructor or counselor to work with your family on your child's specific issues, instead of covering a broad range of behavioral issues that may or may not apply to your situation.

3. Staff

Who will teach your parenting class? The answer to this question depends on where you are taking the class and what type of program you want to participate in. Individualized classes on your child's specific behavioral issue require a teacher who has training in the problem area. If your child has ADHD, you need an instructor or counselor who has expertise on attention hyperactivity disorders. If the teacher is a generalist or has a background in another specialty such as child nutrition, she won't help you to the fullest extent. Look for an instructor who has practical experience dealing with young children who have behavioral problems and understands positive discipline techniques.

4. Practice

The goal of parenting classes is to learn new and more effective ways to handle your child's behavior problems. While listening to the teacher talk and trying to absorb all of the information is key, practicing these new techniques is a must. The U.S. Administration for Children and Families recommends that parenting classes provide the opportunity to actually practice new skills. This means that you will take your child to a class with you and have the teacher instruct you on how to handle him when he acts out. If your child is on his best behavior that day, the teacher can help you add to this by helping you to praise him.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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