Children don’t come with instruction manuals, and finding the way on one’s own can leave many parents feeling exhausted and desperate. Recognising the universality of this issue, social development agency Lifewise have adapted the highly successful Parents Inc. “Toolbox” programme to create parenting courses that are accessible to all.
Aimed at empowering both parents and children, while teaching highly effective parenting methods, the Toolbox courses are run from Lifewise’s Auckland office. Since the courses were adopted by Lifewise, over 2000 parents have benefited. Recent survey results indicated that 98% of parents who completed the course gained new skills and strategies, 90% are enjoying parenting more, and 89% have more confidence in their abilities as parents.
Griff Richards, Lifewise’s parent educator, is now running the Toolbox courses for the tenth year in a row. “Parents just love them,” he says. “We’ve had high levels of attendance, and research proves that they’ve been hugely successful.”
Having worked as a social worker previously, Griff is able to connect with parents of all backgrounds and abilities in a supportive, judgment-free environment. “There’s power in humour, it helps people to open up,” says Griff. “Here there’s ‘no blame, no shame’. We use videos, role play and get parents to have a laugh, which inspires confidence and teaches fun and effective parenting.”
The courses identify parenting styles, characterise children based on personality traits, and demonstrate how best to tailor one’s parenting around these. Griff also teaches parents to build their child’s self-esteem.
“That’s one of the most important things a parent can pass on to their kids,” he says. “If kids feel good about themselves, chances are, they’ll cooperate. We teach people to adopt a “coach” style of parenting, so they approach their children thinking, “You kids are in my team, and I’m the coach. I’m in charge but I’m on your side in life.””
Courses are split according to age group; the Early Years (0-6 years), Middle Years (6-12 years) and Teens (12+ years). There is also a course on Building Awesome Whanau (0-12 years) that employs Maori and New Zealand-specific practices.