Parents Learn Parenting

Nikki Moore graduated some years ago, but the mother of Skyler, 10, Alexis, 9, and five-year-old-Billy, recently went back to class to get some help with the most difficult and important job in the world – parenting. Moore joined a group of North Oakland County moms and dads who participated in Oakland County Child Care Council’s KIDS (Keep Improving and Developing Skills) parenting workshop.

The six-week program lets parents hear from experts on topics ranging from discipline and conflict resolution, to parenting values and helping children to make good choices. Like other workshop participants, Moore said the classes gave her some new ideas while also reinforcing some things she already knew or had forgotten, such as treating each of her children as an individual.

“They all have different personalities,” Moore said. “I was able to figure out how each of my children learns. Some learn by hearing, seeing or doing things hands-on. I learned what I could do to help them learn better.”

Participants share their own ideas, experiences and resources so parents with younger children can get advice from parents who have covered that territory already.

Each two-hour KIDS session includes free child care and dinner, as well as some parent-child activities such as games and crafts.

The KIDS workshop is a product of the Skillman-funded Joining Forces Initiative and is conducted in collaboration with the United Way of Oakland County.

Surveys were taken at the beginning and end of the most recent session, program spokesperson Paula Sulinski said. Results indicated that participants experienced significant increases in their understanding of how appropriate discipline can improve children’s self-control, how parents can help their children make safe and responsible decisions, how they can recognize quality care and education, and the best ways they can talk to their children about feelings.

Thanks to an idea picked up at the workshop, Moore initiated a reward system at home. She calls it the Chips System: Skyler, Alexis and Billy can earn chips for good behavior and for completing chores. The chips are saved up and then exchanged for prizes, sometimes from each child’s own mystery box that contains prizes appropriate for that child.

“It’s fun because we can redeem them and we can pull out of the mystery box,” Alexis said. “We’re not allowed to look in it ‘cause it’s kind of like a mystery.”

Parents enjoyed the KIDS workshop so much that they requested a seventh session: a family potluck dinner at a Waterford park.

“Each family that participated brought a dish to share and we had goody bags for the children and the adults,” Sulinski said. “We also had organized games, prizes and balloons. It was a lot of fun for everyone. Actually, it was such a success that we will have a family night at the end of each six-week series now.”

Through continued support from the Skillman Foundation, the Child Care Council will be able to extend the KIDS workshop into southern Oakland County in Joining Forces II.

For information on the next KIDS session, call the Oakland County Child Care Council (248-681-9192).