Playing happy families

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 October, 2011, 12:00am


The stark reality of how difficult parenting can be starts to kick in around a child's second or third birthday and continues for a lifetime. A child's quest for independence can present many challenges and taking a parenting skills course can help alleviate the pressure.

Katherine Sellery and Claryss Nam Jamieson are qualified parent effectiveness training instructors (PET) who started conducting workshops some years ago. Over time, they have developed their own parenting skills programme called Effective Parenting (, which they co-wrote with leading Australian child psychologist, Dr Louise Porter.

While Effective Parenting uses the PET format as its base, it includes key elements of Porter's emphasis on treating children as people and key aspects of American psychologist Dr Marshall Rosenberg's practices relating to non-violent communication.

'We give parents a comprehensive road map of how to communicate with their children. We provide a skills-based class designed to help families resolve conflicts in a healthy way so that the members of the family involved in the conflict appreciate the other side's point of view,' says Sellery. People usually approach parenting in the same way as their own parents did when they were young. Typically, this is based on using a system of punishment and praise in order to control a child's behaviour. 'The Effective Parenting programme is about developing better relationships on the basis of individual needs, the child's, as well as the parents'. It enables parents to build healthy long-term relationships with their children,' says Christine Bucknor, a former student of the programme. For student Nydia Gaynor, the course enabled her to develop a better understanding of her children.

'Sometimes it can feel like you are living with a glass wall between yourself and your children. The programme enabled us to build a bridge and break down that glass wall. You want to be walking along with your children in their lives, in a respectful way,' she says.

The Effective Parenting programme involves seven, four-hour classes. In each session, teachers use a variety of activities including power point presentations, group discussions, question-and-answer sessions, role-plays and workbook exercises.

New programmes begin in the first and second weeks of October at four locations - the International Montessori School in North Point, the YWCA in Mid-Levels, the American Club in Tai Tam and the Independent Schools Foundation at Cyber Port.

Costs range from HK$5,000 to HK$5,840 depending on location and includes three books, a manual and a DVD.