Which is why, despite the best of intentions, there are times when parents find themselves unable to deal with a strong-willed child or teen. And when that occurs, it might be time to get some help.
“Parenting is a difficult job, and that’s something that is universal,” said Gabriel Welcher, clinical outreach coordinator and Parent Project facilitator for John Muir Behavioral Health Center in Brentwood. “But the challenges are different for every parent, and the Parent Project program is a way for parents to learn more about themselves and how they parent their children.”
Parent Project is a nationally recognized parenting program designed to help parents deal with the myriad challenges of raising children in today’s complex and fast-paced world. The program offers a series of classes for parents based on proven strategies for bringing discipline and order back to the family.
“Kids are a product of their environment, and if they see yelling and arguing and screaming, then that is how they will react,” said Welcher. “We all tend to parent the way we were parented, and my job is to help parents learn a little more about themselves and how they discipline their children. These classes help them do that.”
Welcher began teaching the Parent Project classes at John Muir in Brentwood after a career working with special-education students and their emotional problems in school districts throughout East County.
“I worked in the Oakley and Liberty and Brentwood school districts and basically what I found was that I could work with the kids here at school,” said Welcher. “But the bigger issues were usually at home. I wanted to find a way to work with families, and that’s how I found the Parent Project.”
Welcher offers two programs under the Parent Project umbrella: Loving Solutions for parents of children 5 to 12, and Parent Project Senior for parents of teenagers.
“Basically the (senior) program provides parents with methods for dealing with a number of issues, including alcohol, arguments and grades,” said Welcher. “It teaches parents how to out-will the strong-willed child.
“The Loving Solutions is for younger children and helps parents identify rules and tools to help create structure and learn how to deal with challenging situations and implement timeouts effectively.”
One important element the programs share is an emphasis on consistency, structure and love. “The number one thing for parents to understand is consistency and follow-through,” said Welcher. “Without it there is no structure, and that applies to all children of all ages. Another important point is about love and affection. No matter how angry we are, they are still our children and we should love them no matter what.”
Today’s world is a complex environment for young children and teens, especially given the new trends in prescription drug use and social networking, cyber-bullying and the impact of the media. Now, more than ever, said Welcher, parents must remain vigilant and proactive: “I’ve had parents come into my classes crying because they just don’t know what to do. And the first thing I tell them is not to give up, because the moment you do, that child is just going to get more deeply involved in something else.
“All parents wants their kids to be happy, productive people, and no matter how bad things seem, there is always, always, a solution. Never give up; just keep moving forward.”
The Loving Solutions classes (for children 5 to 12) begin at the John Muir Outpatient facility in Brentwood on Oct. 14 and is held once a week for seven consecutive weeks. The Parent Project (senior program for teens) follows at the same location in December and runs for 10 consecutive weeks.
To sign up for the classes or for more information, call Welcher at 925-383-4669 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.