Centacare, the social services agency of the Catholic Diocese of Armidale, offers a course in Glen Innes next week

Angela Sisson, Team Leader Children and Family Service, Glen Innes Severn Council.
Angela Sisson, Team Leader Children and Family Service, Glen Innes Severn Council.

Can we call them “tricks”? “Techniques” or “strategies” are probably better words.

Either way, every parent knows the subtle ways to get reluctant children to do what they should.

Promises of reward – not known as bribes – sometimes work, but are they the right trick – sorry, strategy?

A course in Glen Innes is designed to help parents with strategies which work and which help children and parents have an easier and better life. It’s about improving outcomes for both.

Take an example from the organisers. If you want your child to do his or her homework but there’s something good on television, do you just keeping saying, “You must do your homework” in an ever louder, more exasperated voice and so increase the tension of the evening?

Or do you get a technique like, for example, telling the child calmly: “In 15 minutes you must do your homework. No arguments, please.” – and then put a timer near the television.

That way, the parent is asserting authority but giving the child something visible to monitor. It is effective, low-tension communication. It may not work with a really difficult child but the course organisers say it might still be better than repeated orders at ever increasing volume.

The course is at the Pool House in Glen Innes on Wednesday next week, September 19, and organised by the Children and Family Services division of the council and Centacare, the social services part of the Catholic Diocese of Armidale.

The aim is to offer techniques and ideas which might help parents.

According to Pedro Sousa who will run the “Practical Parenting” session, there are broadly three styles of parenting which he calls “the brick wall” (unresponsive, harsh and authoritarian – you tell the child and the child must obey); “the jellyfish” (anything goes; the child can go and do whatever he or she likes, plenty of warmth and empathy but no limits and no problem solving).

Or “the backbone”. Backbones are strong but flexible, says Pedro, so the relationship with the child is clear, with the parent setting rules but with warmth and communication.

“Things are negotiated rather than imposed”, as he puts it. This is particularly true of parenting teenagers though his session concentrates more on younger children, from babies up to pre-teens (up to twelve years old).

If it all sounds a bit pie in the sky and remote from your experience of actually dealing with a screaming child, he offers tips. The charity’s work is based on experience and the best professional knowledge. It’s a Catholic charity but with worldly advice.

“We don’t judge parents’, he said. “All we want to do is to give them tips that could take some of the stress out of parenting because it’s a tough job”.

He says it’s about what parents may already be doing right but which they might do more of or others may learn from. For example, he says there’s not much use trying to talk to a child when he or she is upset – they can’t comprehend the information. That’s the time to make a connection with the intention of communicating more concrete information later.

He has interesting information: research indicates that the biggest predictor of success in later life isn’t intelligence or school performance but whether a child has learnt self-control. 

Teaching a child that is a mixture of imparting love and firmness.There is no easy answer but he says the workshop will offer real and practical help.

It’s at the Glen Innes Pool House but you’ll need to register with Centacare New England North-west on 6738 7200 or 1800 372 826.

Or you can call Gabe Mathews or Angela Sisson at the the Chidren and Family Services division of Glen Innes council on 67302210.