What are parenting classes and are they beneficial?

Parenting classes are useful for parents with kids of all ages. (Getty Images)
Parenting classes are useful for parents with kids of all ages. (Getty Images)

In every other aspect of life, we take classes when we want to learn new skills or get better at something. So why isn’t it the norm to take parenting classes?

Sure, antenatal classes are common during pregnancy, but what about when your kid is entering the toddler year, or is a trying teenager?

"In some circles, attending parenting classes might be misconstrued as an admission of inadequacy. But here's my perspective: Parenting is the only job we receive with zero training," psychologist Barbara Santini says.

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"Seeking guidance is an act of immense responsibility and profound love. By reaching out, parents echo a sentiment that their child's well-being is paramount, and that in itself is commendable."

Santini adds that she has often likened parenting to "navigating uncharted territories".

"No two parenting journeys are identical, but with the right compass – in this case, knowledge and strategies from parenting classes – parents can be better equipped to handle the challenges and joys ahead," she adds.

Father and son talking about some problems at home
Classes are available for parents of kids aged 0 to 19. (Getty Images)

What are parenting classes?

A parenting class is exactly what it says on the tin: a class to equip parents with the tools and strategies to best look after their children.

"Parenting classes are more than just workshops," Santini explains. "They're nurturing grounds where parents delve deep into the intricate tapestry of child development, behavioral patterns, emotional intelligence, and effective discipline strategies.

"It's about learning the subtle art of balancing love with limits and empathy with expectations."

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Why people attend parenting classes

There can be several reasons why people will attend parenting classes, including first-time parents seeking a roadmap, parents looking to manage unforeseen behaviour, parents looking to understand the changing dynamics of children, and even court mandates during a divorce settlement.

"I've witnessed courts mandate such classes to ensure the emotional well-being of children during tumultuous times," Santini says. "It's a testament to the understanding that a child's well-being transcends parental disputes."

Back to school. Cute asian pupil girl with backpack holding her mother hand and going to school in vintage color tone
Parenting classes can be beneficial for parents going through divorce. (Getty Images)

The benefits of parenting classes

Parenting classes can offer a wealth of validation, enlightenment and allow you to have shared experiences with other parents.

"Parents often emerge with a refined intuition, able to decode their child's unsaid emotions," Santini explains.

"For children, having an emotionally attuned parent means feeling seen, heard, and valued. This nurtures self-worth and resilience."

How to attend a parenting class

If you are interested in attending a parenting class, you can do so privately or many local councils - such as Westminster and Barnet in London or Cambridgeshire council - offer free courses for people in their constituencies. So it’s worth doing some research to see if there are any available near you.

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Otherwise, organisations such as Family Lives, Educating Matters and Triple P offer online classes, and even one-to-one consultations.