Helping hands for parents in Sweden

Sweden is looking to improve its already stellar reputation for raising children by providing parenting classes, according to a report by AFP.

All parents of newborn babies currently have the chance to take classes and participate in discussion groups aimed at taking the stress out of learning to be a parent. Now efforts are being made to increase education options for parents of older children as well.

The number of parents taking advantage of these new courses has more than tripled in the past three years, from two percent to seven percent, according to the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (SNIPH).

Aasa, a single mother with eight-year-old twin boys, is even willing to travel through a snowstorm to take advantage of the classes.

“I get all stressed out when one of my sons won’t do what I want,” Aasa said. “I’m always asking myself if I should take a stand on this issue and stick to principle, or will that just agitate them.”

Such problems are exactly what the classes aim to address. Family counselor Magnus Braun runs the class in Skarpnack.

“Many parents come here because they have problems with authority at home,” Braun said. “But these classes are for all parents. I think all parents are dealing with these kinds of issues.”

Aasa Kling, a psychologist interested in the effectiveness of the parenting program, said around 99 percent of parents taking these classes would recommend them to others.

“The parents improved their so-called parenting competency, and the children who had been acting out had fewer behavioural problems after their parents went through the programme,” Kling said.

“To prepare children for what’s coming is a must,” said Braun. “You have to give them a little time to stop what they’re doing and prepare mentally for the switch.”

The parenting programs also encourage praise for good behaviour rather than focusing solely on bad behaviour.

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