Parenting Programme

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Physical punishment of children is rarely acceptable in the UK and in many cases parents can be charged with a criminal offence and be subject to a Child Protection Conference by the Local Authority. Under the Children Act 2004 - teachers, care workers and nursery workers are strictly forbidden to smack another person's child and parents may not use an implement such as a belt or a cane. Even a parent who smacks their own child can be charged with a criminal offence if the smack leaves a mark.

Parents are responsible for disciplining their children but some may feel powerless without recourse to physical punishment; particularly if their own background or experience as a child involved smacking or even beating.

Parents want the best for their children and many are enthusiastic to learn new skills and develop existing skills for properly disciplining and the overall well-being of their children. 

In 1999, the government commissioned Racial Equality Foundation to review existing materials around parenting and to develop parenting materials appropriate and sensitive to the needs of the community.  REF identified and endorsed THE STRENGTHENING FAMILIES, STRENGTHENGTHING COMMUNITIES PROGRAM.

Strengthening families, strengthening communities parenting programme is a unique integration of various prevention/integration strategies geared toward reducing violence against self, family and the community.  The information is presented within a ‘cultural framework’ and focuses on helping parents and children enhance life skills necessary for functioning in today’s society.

 The programme integrates positive discipline approaches as a vehicle for fostering high self-esteem, self-discipline and social competence in children.  Parents are provided with the mechanism to connect with community resources and encouraged to form a community action group to address social, political and economic issues related to the prevention of family and community violence.

Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) is an inclusive evidence-based parenting programme, designed to promote protective factors which are associated with good parenting and better outcomes for children.

SFSC has enjoyed success with parents from all backgrounds, such as black and minority ethnic parents, teenaged parents, parents with learning disabilities and parents from marginalised communities, including those with experience of drugs, alcohol or violence.

SFSC is a universal programme, which helps parents with children aged up to 18 years to think about how their actions and experiences may influence their parenting style. In particular, SFSC helps parents to:

  • gain a better understanding of child development
  • use positive discipline techniques
  • promote children’s social skills and self-discipline
  • achieve positive change in family relationships
  • explore and develop strategies to deal with factors that risk poor outcomes for children, such as harsh and/or inconsistent discipline.
  • encouraging parents to share their experiences and values 
  • undertaking practical activities, which are then built on through homework.

 The programme presents a variety of positive communication strategies and information that prepare parents to ‘respond’ instead of ‘react’ to their children’s attitudes and behaviours.

This programme will bridge the gap by empowering parents to manage behaviours without using corporal punishment.

What makes this programme different?

This programme differs because it uniquely and creatively empowers parents by: 

  • Decreasing the sense of isolation
  • Providing culturally relevant material
  • Providing networking opportunities
  • Access to all community resources
  • Guiding them in how to obtain further knowledge

Programme’s main aims and objectives

The programme aims to provide parents and carers of children and young people with strategies, and techniques to achieve the following:

  • Provide parents with information that will empower them with the courage and commitment needed to change any destructive parenting of their childhood, along with specific alternatives to the use of physical punishment as a primary teaching tool.
  • Assist parents in understanding, reviewing and utilising a ‘Process of Discipline’ to create guidelines for modelling and teaching respectful behaviour.
  • Connect parents to the healthy aspects of their childhood, while also providing parents with strategies, skills, techniques and information needed to break the cycle of violence to self and others.
  • Present information within a ‘cultural framework’ that validates and takes into consideration different cultural learning styles, different ethnic/cultural/spiritual values, and different family and historical experiences.
  • Provide parents with specific information and activities to assist them in teaching both younger and older children to understand and appreciate family/cultural values as they relate to the development of social skills needed to function successfully as an adult in this society.
  • Assist parents in building special relationships with their children that provide support and guidance.  This is achieved by encouraging parents to clarify their own emotions and in doing so; encourage their children to express feelings in a respectful manner.
  • Decrease the sense of isolation by supporting parents in a parent programme, and provide parents with a mechanism for connecting to formal and informal community resources that are needed in order for meaningful and lasting changes to occur.
  • The Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities Programme teaches parenting skills that foster high self-esteem, self-discipline and social competence.

.For every programme run crèche will be provided.  Crèche workers are CRB checked and are qualified and suitable to care for children with disabilities.

Structure

The programme is designed for between 15-25 participants.  It is structured with an introduction session and twelve weekly three-hour sessions taught in consecutive weeks to parents with children between 3 and 18 years of age.  It is also structured into five component areas; which are cultural/spiritual, rites of passage, enhancing relationships, positive discipline and community involvement.  Information from the different component areas is integrated throughout the twelve sessions.

Groups Targeted

Groups of parents targeted include all ethnicities, women, men, teenage parents, people with disabilities, lone parents, refugee and asylum seekers.  Parents do not have to be literate to attend, support will be provided.

Method of Teaching

The method of teaching consists of role-plays, exercises, group discussions, guest speakers and cultural artefacts. Parent manuals and appropriate materials will be provided.

Evaluation

The programme is evaluated throughout by the Facilitators and parents.

Facilitator

All instructors go through an intensive five-day facilitator training workshop, where they experience the training process, learn programme concepts, and explore the impact of culture and values on how they were raised and on their own child-rearing attitudes and behaviours.  It is essential for each facilitator to be open to different parenting styles, learn to validate parents for their values and the goals they have for their children. 

Graduation ceremony

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Every parent who attends will get a participant certificate and those who complete the sessions will receive a complete certificate.  Certificates will be given to the children who participate in the exercises. 

The parents will be invited to a graduation ceremony where they will receive their certificate from a prominent member of the community. 

These are photos from our 2015 Graduation Ceremony with certificates presented by Councillor Wyatt standing in for the Mayor of Newham. On this occasion, there were 13 graduates who attended our 13 week course at the Barking Road Community Centre in Plaistow. 

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Our facilitators, Tauseef Ahmed, Nabila Khan and Ionie Willis were very impressed by the dedication of our attendees who managed to attend the classes despite having very busy lives.

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Our attendees also report how much they felt they benefited from the course with comments like

"The whole programme was an eye opener on how to be a better parent"
 
 
"The interaction between everyone is brilliant. I enjoyed all of the programme"
 
 
 
"Easy to talk to others about things I would normally not" 
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"Facilitators were excellent. Explained well, use real life examples
(and) used own life experience to explain topics"
 
 
 
 

The impact of Parental behaviour on the children

One of the main ways children learn is by observing and copying the behaviour of others, and you, as their parent, are an incredibly important model for their mimicry.

Children tend to copy or approximate their parents’ behaviour, both good and bad.

Don’t Do As I Do

So, the old saying, ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you’, simply doesn’t work with kids. Even if they repress their urge to imitate your bad behaviour in front of you, they are likely to copy you as soon as your back is turned, or, at the very least, when they grow into adulthood.

If you are respectful and kind to others, your child is likely to learn to be respectful and kind. If you are rude and disrespectful to people, your child is more likely to be rude and disrespectful. That means to you too, of course.

I have seen parents being rude and abusive to each other, then being baffled as to why their children are so frequently rude and aggressive to them, or to each other. Similarly, when parents get angry at a child, they are teaching the child to be angry.

One of the main ways children learn is by observing and copying the behaviour of others, and you, as their parent, are an incredibly important model for their mimicry.

Children tend to copy or approximate their parents’ behaviour, both good and bad. Famous studies by the guy who came up with the idea of ‘observational learning’, Albert Bandura, illustrated that children who witness an adult behaving aggressively are more likely to be aggressive.

Try to Be Calm and Respectful

That’s one of the reasons staying calm and assertive with your child is so important. Calm respectful behaviour begets calm respectful behaviour. So whether you are communicating with your child, or with a shop assistant, or teacher, or the other parent, remember to act the way you would like your child to act.

Many parents are blind to the impact of their behaviour on their children. I recently saw a mother repeatedly shouting loudly at her child, ‘STOP SHOUTING!!!!’ The irony of the situation seemed to be lost on her, and, not surprisingly, the child continued to shout.

Adolescent Rebellion

Some parents complain to me that their adolescent children no longer model their behaviour; that they deliberately defy them and want to do the opposite.

That is true to some extent because adolescents often go out of their way to separate themselves and their behaviour from that of their parents. I believe that this is a natural part of the maturation process, and helps the child become an independent entity. But, a temporary deviation from copying their parents’ behaviour, does not mean that the parents’ behaviour will have no effect in the future. Far from it.

We Become Our Parents

We tend to become our parents, particularly our same sex parent, as we get older. I know a woman who as a child rebelled against her ultra clean and tidy mother by refusing to do chores and leaving her room like a pig-sty. But once she moved into adulthood, the same woman became just as clean and tidy as her mother.

People whose parents smoke are more likely to smoke. Obese parents are more likely to raise obese children, even when genetic factors are accounted for.

Children who watch or hear their parents arguing are more likely to argue with their adult partners later in life than children whose parents resolve issues calmly.

Despite our conscious intentions, we often end up creating intimate relationships very like our parents’ relationships, and we tend to parent similarly to the way our parents parented us. That’s because those skills [or lack thereof] were learned and ingrained into our psyches by the observations we made as children.

Break Your Bad Habits

It is vital that you break any bad behaviour habits that still plague you. In doing so, you are not only helping yourself and your children, and other important people currently in your life, but you will be affecting the well-being of your children’s children, and their children’s children.

Even though we all have the propensity to act the way we learned from our own parents when we were children, we can break our bad habits if we really try.

Awareness and intention are the keys. Become aware of what you do, and of what you do and don’t want to teach your children, and then practice doing the good stuff until it is second nature.

If you are finding it difficult to change your behaviour to become a good role model, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a competent professional. Your children need and deserve you to be clear of your childhood baggage, and you’ll feel so much better for it.

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