What's Your Parenting Potential?
You’ve seen it before, whether you’ve been scrolling on Facebook or Instagram, that one post from another parent sharing their child’s latest Picasso artistic expression that depicts their parents as being the best ever.
Feelings might have come up for you in that moment, and it might be difficult to process as you think back to those lesser-than-desired moments of your own parenting journey. Frustration, sadness, guilt, shame, embarrassment - as a new parent, you experience them all in one form or another. How do we make sense of them, what do we do with them, and how can we feel more competent, in control?
Myths of Parent Training
1. Parent training is only for incompetent parents.
Any parent at any point in their parenting journey can always benefit from a toolbox of skills! Would you go to work without your laptop, or even worse, without your coffee? Everyone can benefit from having an extra skill or two in their back pocket, and being prepared doesn’t mean incompetent.
2. It’s my child that needs the help, not me.
Every child has a unique set of needs that requires a unique set of skills. Your child may be receiving a lot of therapeutic support from many different providers, but you know your child best. Let’s capitalize on that - let’s take a compassionate, nonjudgmental, curious approach to your parenting skills and interaction style with your child. Maybe some tweaks can be made, and with the help of a new skill from a new toolbox, you can feel more prepared and in control.
Therapists only see your child for about 45 minutes weekly during their scheduled appointments, only within that one context for that one block of time. You’re with your child in multiple contexts (home, the larger community) for multiple blocks of time. When parents apply parenting management skills in multiple settings, not only are you practicing skills of your own, but you’re also helping your child generalize their own skills and behaviors to outside of the therapeutic environment.
3. I’m already embarrassed and joining a parent training group would just make me more embarrassed.
Making the first step towards change is always the most difficult. If we look beyond taking that step and the meaning we place on accepting help, we open ourselves up to all the possible positive outcomes of parent training. Not only will you receive tangible skills and new parenting techniques, but you’ll be joining a community of parents who are on a similar journey to yours. Research shows that social support, whether that be through friends or a support group, acts as a buffer against many negative psychological experiences.
4. Parent training is only for new parents, or parents of younger children. It won’t help me with my older kids.
Parent training is rooted in behavior management principles that apply to all individuals of any age, in any context, with or without social-emotional/behavioral concerns. These principles, such as operant conditioning, allow us to feel rewarded for engaging in certain behaviors. Feeling rewarded or experiencing positive reinforcement when participating in expected activities (going to school, completing homework, interviewing for a job) is important for the appropriate development of independence and skills of daily living.
Dr. Amanda Neal, Psy.D. is a postdoctoral clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy and testing for adolescents, adults, and parents in Pleasantville and virtually in New York State. She specializes in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, OCS, and Anxiety Disorders.
Learn more about Dr. Neal at www.pleasantvilletherapy.com