Parent education can lead to stronger families
When parents are equipped with knowledge and strategies to do the best job they can, "there is less of a chance of abuse or neglect."Posted — Updated
Parenting is often an on-the-job learning experience. It's never perfect, and it involves a great deal of trial and error.
Sometimes, this can lead to ineffective or negative ways of handling situations, ranging from emotional abuse and neglect to physical abuse. But when parents are equipped with knowledge and strategies to do the best job they can, the likelihood of these negative behaviors decrease.
Sebrina Cooke-Davis, the parent education program supervisor at Children's Home Society in North Carolina, teaches families how to incorporate five "protective factors" into their lives.
- Basic Needs: Families who can meet their own basic needs such as food, clothing, housing and transportation are better able to ensure the safety of their children. Simply being able to fulfill these basic needs alleviates a great deal of stress which, if left unmanaged over time, can lead to negative coping mechanisms such as abuse.
"When these protective factors are in place, there is less of a chance of abuse or neglect," Cooke-Davis said.
Sharing this information with families helps parents understand what areas they may need to work on to better support their children, and it helps to pinpoint problems when they arise.
At CHSNC, Cooke-Davis often hears transformation stories, especially around issues of discipline from families who have learned these protective factors.
One parent was struggling with effective discipline strategies, and as a father to an older child, he thought that punitive discipline was the only option. He knew his discipline strategy was hurting the relationship he was building with his child and that he had to repair it, but he didn't know how.
When the Department of Social Services stepped in, he began to attend CHSNC's classes in parent education. Armed with better information, he was able to put new discipline strategies in place – strategies that focused on positive communication and teaching rather than scaring.
"A lot of times, parents are just doing what they were taught or what was done to them, but it is not effective," Cooke-Davis explained. "Instead, we give them a tool belt, and they can pull from the different tools -- for example, time-outs, consequences, loss of privileges, etc. -- and see what does work."
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