Family Advocacy classes ease parenting stress

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Katherine Windish
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
"Parenting is never easy," said Kinzie Lee, Family Advocacy nurse. "But the more prepared you are and the more you understand your children and their developmental age will make you a more confident parent."

To help Aviano parents reach that level of confidence, the Family Advocacy clinic offers parenting classes teaching everything from basic childcare techniques to how to successfully discipline children of all ages. The classes offered are a bi-monthly Baby Basic Training, a bi-monthly Dad Bootcamp, the monthly 1-2-3 Magic Parenting Class, and the Love and Logic Class, taught once per quarter.

Baby Basic Training is taught over two nights, first going over basic newborn behavior, reflexes and habits and then continuing on to basic baby care. The class instructs parents how to soothe a crying infant, diaper, feed and swaddle a newborn, and what to do if your child is sick.

"Everyone will eventually figure out how to do all these things," said Lee. "But this class gives parents a head start. Because they will have already been taught the basics in this class, rather than having to figure it out all on their own, parents will be less anxious and will be more effective in soothing and caring for their child."

Dad Boot Camp is a similar course, but it is taught by experienced fathers, with a curriculum specifically designed for new or expectant fathers. It covers "dad-specific" material, in addition to baby care.

"Dads are going to learn better in an environment that's just men," Lee said. "In this class, the guys are able to talk about things they might not feel as comfortable talking about in front of women. They discuss the father's role during pregnancy, labor and after the baby is born. They discuss how to take care of mom, as well as baby and more."

The 1-2-3 Magic Parenting class is recommended for parents with children 18 months or older and focuses on effective methods of disciplining your child.

"Two-years is really the earliest that discipline will work," said Lee. "Before that age, children can't really connect their behavior with the discipline. At two-years, they begin to see the connection and learn from it."

The class teaches parents how to use time-outs effectively, how to be consistent and how to control your own emotions.

"Some parents say time-outs don't work for them," Lee said. "Any discipline method you choose will work, as long as you are consistent. The Magic Parenting class teaches an easy and effective method of disciplining your child, parents can start using it right away. The key is consistency."

Lee stresses the need for consistency many times throughout the class, saying it is the most important factor in child rearing.

"You and your partner need to come up with a plan for disciplining your child and you need to make sure you are both on the same page and are sticking to it," she continued. "That way the child knows what to expect when they misbehave, making it an effective deterrent."

The Love and Logic class goes more in depth into child rearing and discipline. It is recommended for parents with children ages six and older. The program focuses more on time-out alternatives and natural consequences.

"Sometimes, time-outs are not appropriate," said Lee. "You're not going to put your child in time-out if they sleep late and miss the bus for school. Instead you should let them learn the natural consequences of their actions. If they miss the bus then someone has to drive them to school and this costs money. That money can come out of their allowance."

She also suggests stepping back when you can and letting things run their course.

"You've got to let them fail a little bit," Lee said. "If missing the bus makes them miss an important test and makes their grade drop a little, it will make them work harder to catch the bus the next time. It is something they can recover from on their own but still teaches a lesson. That is how they will learn."

A Love and Logic class for younger children will be available in the spring.

A good, natural result of teaching effective discipline techniques to children and parents is a drop in child maltreatment cases.

"We know that overall, as a program, new parent support is an effective tool in preventing child maltreatment," said Lee. "There is tons of research proving that a lack of knowledge is definitely a factor, when parents just don't know what else to do. Giving parents the tools and advice they need significantly decreases the likelihood that they will hurt their child."

This is why each course puts an emphasis on parents controlling their emotions and teaches parents methods of letting themselves cool off before disciplining their child.

"From the time a child is born, they can sense if their parent is frustrated and angry," Lee said. "This makes the child more anxious and the situation will only escalate. You can't be an effective disciplinarian if you yourself are frustrated."

Overall, the classes give parents a leg up on child rearing.

"Classes may not go very in depth for every situation," Lee said. "Things will come up that were not covered in the class, but we teach you enough to know what to expect and how to be able to handle it on your own. Some things we do when taking care of our children are instinctive. These classes are simply teaching the best methods."

The next class dates are as follows:
-Baby Basic Training: Sept. 13 and 15
-1-2-3 Magic Parenting: Sept. 16
-Dad Boot Camp: Sept. 20

The next Love and Logic class date is still to be determined.

For more information or to sign up for a class, call Family Advocacy at DSN 632-5667.