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Teaching parents to be GOOD parents? Does it work?

-- personal accounts by real parents

THe following are testimony by real parents on how they gain from the "Parenting with Confidence" workshop organized by Focus On The Family and which is supported and heavily subsided by MCDS.

“Parenting with Confidence” workshops are designed to equip and encourage parents of children in age groups 0-5 and 6-12 years.

This course is designed by Dr James Dobson, who has written many parenting books. Dr. Dobson’s 90-second commentary is aired five times a day on NewRadio FM 93.8, a national secular station that caters to professionals and businessmen. And a one-hour program is hosted weekly on the same radio station.

Click here for more information and registration info on the course.

Testimony by Kenneth Ho

As a first-time dad, there are many things that I do not know and expect from raising a newborn baby. Being practical and having sourced around for some parenting courses, my wife and I decided to enroll in this Parenting in Confidence course as it is made really affordable due to the subsidy from MCDS.

I am very satisfied after attending this course as it is well-organised with structured course content. There are discussions and advice not only from the facilitators, but also from the other couples; and these give us really useful and practical examples. Both Roger and Wendy are well-trained, approachable and very helpful; even calling us during the week to find out how we are coping with baby.

Some of the course highlights which impress me are:

1. When we discipline our kids, don't sweat over the small stuff; and we should try to encourage the thinking process in children and not think on their behalf.

2. We must learn to be always calm whenever all kinds of situations arise and not panic or get angry immediately.

Testimony by Ginny Chan

1. Sleep problem

Our 5-month old baby Joshua has been having difficulties in getting to sleep at night and will usually cry and thrash around for about 1 - 2 hours before falling asleep. As my mother-in-law will rock him to sleep but which I and hubby Kenny don't agree in this method at all, we were at a loss as to what to do.

So after sharing our problem with Wendy, she advised us to put baby to sleep earlier and let him try the crying out method too. Our normal routine was to put him to bed at 10pm and we tried the first 2 nights, but gave in after about 5 minutes of him crying as my mother-in-law would always come into our room to want to carry him whenever he cried. As such, this made it very difficult for us in implementing this method as Joshua knew that he can cry until his grandma comes to carry him. However, I managed to try it again when Kenny went overseas to work for a few days and his mum had an appointment one night.

I gave him his last feed at about 7.30pm, then cleaned him up and put him on my bed by 8.30pm. This was followed by a routine of playing/singing/talking/praying with him, which is usually about half an hour until he started thrashing and making noises. After doing that for quite awhile, I just spoke to him in a firm voice, "Joshua, you're not going to make so much noise and cry every night before sleep. It's now sleeping time' and he suddenly stopped and just looked at me and smiled. I also hugged and reassured him after that that mummy loves him but after awhile, he was back to his cranky old ways.

So I just let him cry out till he fell asleep in less than 15 minutes and he slept from 9.30pm – 8.00am the next morning without waking up for any feed or crying at all! In fact when he woke up, he didn't cry at all for food but just smiled and smiled when I said good morning to him!

That was really like a miracle and I tried it again the following night. The same thing happened but at a shorter duration, after I spoke to him again in that firm voice and he recognized that mummy didn't allow that kind of behaviour. And when Kenny came back from overseas, he was so amazed at what he was seeing that he gave me the thumbs-up sign many times as Joshua was asleep already and we didn't want to make any noise.

It's now much faster to get him to sleep than before, from nearly 2 hours of thrashing initially to 1 hour, then half an hour, and 10 minutes to 5 minutes now! Praise God!

Both of us are really happy that he now falls asleep fast without much thrashing, but of course on some nights he would be thrashing longer again as he's testing his boundaries. So we've just got to be firm and continue the hard work.

This parenting course has been a very useful guide to us and also mentioned that we must be consistent and firm in our parenting skills. And we realised that when we try out one method, we can't just give up after 1 - 2 days but should try for at least 1 - 2 weeks.

As Joshua's been sleeping with us most of the time because he would cry whenever we put him in his cot, Wendy also advised us to carry him back to his cot after he's slept for about 15 minutes. This is because the first half an hour when baby sleeps is the deepest sleep and even if we move baby, he won't move at all. So we tried this out too and it worked! But of course we sometimes moved him a bit too soon after his sleep and he would wake up and cry, so we still need to fine tune. Our next challenge is to put him in the cot in his own room.

2. Back-Bone Parent-Coach

3. Creating a childhood to remember

Both of us are really glad to have joined this course which has been so helpful in guiding us to be better and knowledgeable parents. There are quite a number of topics which are eye-openers to us eg. Backbone Parenting: being firm but yet flexible, 5 love languages of kids, the different disciplining methods which will still keep our child's self-esteem intact, and even creative play activities like making play-dough out of some cooking ingredients rather than just buying the ready-made Play-doh off the shelf!

It has been a very fruitful and enjoyable time with the other couples as we learn and share with one another our different experiences of bringing up children. And this is really beneficial as they are real and practical issues.

We are indeed very fortunate to have Roger and Wendy as our facilitators because they share with us many other important principles which are over and above those taught in the course book. This is made possible as they have attended other good parenting courses and from bringing up their 2 children too. They also generously lent us some parenting books which are useful in letting us know what to expect from our 6-month old child and how to handle the many issues which will arise in due time.

Overall, it has really been a fun time as the various presenters in the course materials and videos always bring out the topics in a humorous manner. And this helps lighten the mood incredibly as parenting is actually supposed to be a joyful role, rather than a dull and serious one!

So we are looking forward to more of such relevant parenting courses at affordable prices because parenting is a lifelong process. With all these, we are then able to raise our child(ren) up to be happy, confident and well-mannered individuals who will be good citizens respecting other people and property too!

Testimony by Stuart & Karen See
4 things I learnt at the workshop:

1: Self control - staying calm as a parent is important, especially when I want my on children to be able to stay calm when facing difficulties (in other words be what you want them to be). Easier said then done.

2: Caning is OK -- that’s great I'm now going to bring out my golden cain. haha no just joking.

3: Talking about it and thinking about it means nothing about it. What I mean is, if I want to encourage my child towards a certain behavior, I've to plan and act upon a means to encourage the desired behavior. And track this performance using a chart or so, so that we all can see the improvement and have confidence that what we're doing as parents work.

4: Harmony among the controlling factors at home is important to reinforce and cement my children’s lessons.

1: The food was good.

2: The meeting moved on at a good pace.

3: The breadth of knowledge of the facilitators was beneficial to the members.

4: I would recommend any parent or parent to be to participate in this class, as the lessons and experiences shared in the class are invaluable to raising a child with good self esteem. I believe that the root of a good life is strong self esteem and confidence. Without these no one would proactively do what is needed and right in this world.

Testimony by Roslin Chua

I am a busy working mother with 2 sons, aged 3 and 5 years old, in the family. Due to my busy work schedule, I do not usually have the luxury to spend a lot of time with my 2 sons. Coupled with my heavy household chores, I always felt guilty not able to spend enough time with them. However, through the Parenting course put up by MCDS and through sharing with our coach, Wendy and Roger, I have learnt:

1. Quality time
To spend quality time with my sons. I have learnt to involve them and giving them simple chores while I do my housework. Not only that they have learnt to be responsible, they have also enjoyed the task assigned to them which contributes to the well-being of our family.

2. Back-Bone Parent-Coach
With the limited time that I have every night, I have also learnt to communicate and be a backbone parents to them, understanding their needs and explicitly expressing my love to them. This includes learning to praise and showing them their positive traits, thereby encouraging them. The lesson on positive reinforcement has also helped to build up my elder son’s confidence.

3. Family Mission Statement
In one of the course on “Rules setting”, the greatest achievement is that my husband and I are able to sit down to brainstorm our family mission statement and values for the family. This has greatly encouraged our family bonds and I really thank MCDS for making this course available.

Testimony by Wendy and Roger

Roger and Wendy with their 2 beautiful kids.

Our stay at Riveria Bay Malacca was fantastic. Here’s our testimony. The apartment was huge. There were 3 bedrooms with attached toilet each. The size of each bedroom is equivalent to 1 hotel room. Plus there is a living hall, dining area, complete built-in kitchen equipped for cooking and a balcony that faces the sea without any blocking. We ate kampong durian at the balcony with the sea breeze blowing through our hair. Shiok right? Of course each room has got either 2 single beds or a king sized bed. My parents took one room, we took the room with the king sized bed and there’s one more bedroom left. Guess who took the 3rd room? Was it left empty as most parents would want their children to sleep with them, or rather the children are not able to sleep on their own separately in a strange environment? Since we are conducting parenting classes, we must practice what we preach. So we tried out the 1st night. Introduce them to their own room and bed. Do the usual quiet bedtime ritual, said good night and close the door. I stood outside the door to see what will happen, expecting to hear crying and the kids coming down and running out of the room. Bearing in mind that they are only 2.5 and 4.5 years old. After a few minutes, nothing happened. So I went back to our bedroom and had a wonderful quiet evening together alone. The same thing happened the 2nd night. It works! All the hard work training them to sleep through the night on their own in their own bedroom since 3 months of age is worth it. Isn’t that great! We were truly blessed to have this quality family time and together with our parents. Now we see the fruits of our labour. We are so glad to have attended such parenting courses even before our first child was born; it really helped prepared us and made parenting such a joy!

To all parents out there, keep up the good job and be encouraged with what you are doing or trying to do. Remember that it takes 21 days to cultivate a habit, good or bad. Yes, parenting is hard work, but it’s worth it! Great parents and great kids are made, not born.


Reproduced with permission. Contribution by Wendy and Roger, facilitator of "Parenting with Confidence" course.

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