Learning the job no school teaches - parenting

Posted: Monday, April 17, 2000

There are no simple formulas for the challenging task of parenting, but parents can learn how to use positive parenting techniques and how to discipline children in a calm, caring, consistent way.

One method of mastering positive parenting is reading. A good source is a booklet, ``Positive Parenting: Tips on Discipline,'' available from the state Division of Family and Youth Services (465-3235).

The booklet includes examples such as:

Tell your children exactly what you expect. Set clear limits and be consistent. State your expectations in positive ways: ``I expect that you will talk to me with your soft voice.'' ``After you clean your room, you may ride your bike.'' ``Homework is done before the TV is turned on.''

Teach social skills. Some magic words include: ``Please,'' ``Thank you,'' ``You're welcome,'' and ``Excuse me.'' And remember to say these things to your child.

The Community Resource Kit lists these techniques of positive parenting, borrowed from discipline tips from the Wisconsin Children's Trust Fund:

Show children love, concern and respect at all times.

Listen; take an interest in what children say.

Help your children express their feelings appropriately.

Give children appropriate choices whenever possible.

Teach kids to be responsible.

Spend time with your kids, reading often.

Set an example by what you say and do.

Ask for help when you need it.

Another method of learning about positive parenting is joining a support group. ``Hook up with a great group of other parents where you can share ideas and bring up your problems,'' said Cynthia Shaw, a child development specialist and teacher with Yaakoosge Daakahidi (the ``house of knowledge''), Juneau's alternative high school program.

``Get that support and everything else falls into place,'' Shaw said.

Shaw is currently instructing 28 pregnant and parenting teens, 15 to 20 years old, in parenting skills. Her classes visit the Birthing Center to learn about delivery, and write essays about their philosophy of positive discipline. Yaakoosge boasts the only teen parenting program in the Juneau School District, Shaw said.

Local parents might hook up with Parents Anonymous or Healthy Families Juneau. Based on a national program, Healthy Families is locally administered by Catholic Community Service. It offers parents up to five years continuous support, but requires they sign up between the second trimester of pregnancy and three months after. It provides in-home services, promotes child health, and enhances family functioning.

For details, call Healthy Families Juneau at 586-6218.

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