Parenting is a tough job. Most first-time parents would agree that parenting can be a nerve-wracking task—after all, you too have to learn new things and grow as a parent along with your baby. Handling a baby, understanding their basic needs, establishing a strong bond with them, and helping them grow—all these and more lay the foundation of how you will evolve and grow as a parent.
Once you have a baby, you learn the tricks of the trade and can be better prepared for the second child. However, getting there can be challenging for many new parents. This is where parenting classes can help. Parenting classes can not only make your life with a newborn easier but also help you devise a parenting plan that suits you and your partner in the long run. Here’s all you need to know.
What are Parenting Classes?
Parenting classes are designed to help parents-to-be and new parents learn about the different types of parenting and discipline styles. It prepares you to understand your baby’s needs, communicate with your child, overcome challenges faced during different phases of your child’s growth, and more. Besides imparting theoretical knowledge, parenting classes guide and train you to apply the teachings to your family setup.
Types of Parenting Classes
There are mainly four types of parenting classes:
- Classes for Expectant Parents
Classes for parents-to-be are structured to help you answer a million questions you have about having a baby. These classes deal with a wide range of subjects starting from childbirth and post-birth recovery to infant care and basic safety. You will learn how to care for your baby and what you need to do for yourself to stay physically and mentally healthy.
- Classes for the parents of a newborn
Parenting classes for baby care are especially helpful if you do not have a support system such as your parents or a trained nanny to help you care for your newborn at home. Besides teaching you how to change diapers and bathe a newborn, these classes will equip you in dealing with the lack of sleep and meet the emotional demands of being a parent.
- Parenting for Infants
These classes are designed for parents of older infants. They focus on training parents on caring for their older infants and assisting them to guide their children through major developmental milestones. These classes teach parents ways to help their children in gaining essential skills early on. In addition, they tell you ways to deal with the child’s tantrums, potty training them, and more.
- Classes for Parents of Children with Special Needs
This type of parenting class is designed for parents of children who have medical or developmental challenges or those who are specially gifted. This category of parenting classes includes sessions for parents in unique situations such as single parents or parents who are adopting a child.
Could a Parenting Class Help You?
Signing up for offline or online parenting classes do have certain benefits, especially in nuclear family setups. It helps in easing the anxiety related to caring for and bringing up a child. Unlike earlier times, when you had the support of your parents and close family members, today, young parents are mostly on their own. Times have changed, and so have the methods. With a baby in hand, you are constantly worried if you are doing the right thing or not.
In such situations, parenting classes offer a more systematic approach to parenting. You are taught tried and tested ways to care for your baby, thus boosting your confidence levels. It allows you to explore different styles of parenting so that you can pick elements from each of them to devise your own parenting style.
Most importantly, this is where you can build a support system for yourself. You get to meet other parents in the same situation. It can be very helpful if your friend circle does not include people with kids.
How to Determine If a Parenting Class is Right for You?
Let’s come to the crux of the matter—should you or should you not join a parenting class?
While new parents should attend parenting classes, you must be aware that it does not automatically make you a good parent. You may still make mistakes and what works for somebody else may not work for you. There is no golden rule to parenting and every child develops at a unique pace. Seeing other parents and their babies may tempt you to make comparisons that could be detrimental to your mental well-being.
What Else can You Do to Help Your Child Grow?
Good parenting is all about making your child a socially responsible individual and helping them to be the best version of themselves. Nobody can understand and be there for a child better than their parents. Irrespective of whether you join a parenting class or not, you must spend quality time with your child, minimising their screen time.
Know the developmental milestones associated with every age and work with your baby to achieve them. Your child’s brain develops at a very fast pace in the initial years. Take advantage of this. There are many simple activities you can do to help your baby develop motor skills, vocabulary, memory, reading, and math, among others. These activities will help them think creatively and develop a positive personality.
Also Read: 15 DIY Kid Friendly Activities for Toddlers
Play simple games like “I Spy” and “Follow the Leader” with your child. What you see as entertainment could be a great way to help them expand their attention span, learn new words, exercise, and more. Also, start reading to your baby early on. Even if your toddler doesn’t follow the story, they will learn to associate pictures with words and develop a stronger vocabulary. Even babies who are less than 6 months old can enjoy looking at books with big, bright pictures.
A parenting class indeed helps you learn the basics of parenting and shows you ways to approach the matter. But you can also find your way through research, reading good parenting books, interacting with other experienced parents, joining a social network of couples in a similar life stage as you, and most importantly, by being a caring and observant parent. The more quality time you spend with your baby, the more you will understand them as individuals with certain needs.