Despite our best efforts, we can’t always protect those in our care from experiencing trauma. Children who witness domestic violence, lose a loved one suddenly or violently, live through a national disaster or terrorist attack, or who experience other forms of trauma may have lasting effects that require thoughtful and informed parenting approaches. Raising a child who has been impacted by trauma can make it scary to think about having another child – and especially about parenting again. The more you know about the impact of adverse events on child development and appropriate parental interventions, the easier it becomes to achieve peace in your home and prepare your child for a successful and fulfilling life. Willow Womens Center empowers all those who play a role in the lives of youth who have experienced adversity to provide the support and advice they need through their completely free Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts class.

Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts Class

Love and Logic: Adults Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts® is designed to provide parents (including foster and adoptive parents), teachers, psychologists, and counselors with the tools they need to understand the effects of trauma on youth, meet the needs of children who have experienced challenging and painful situations, and care for themselves as they do so.

Caring for children who have experienced trauma can be especially challenging. In fact, the approaches that work with a child who hasn’t experienced trauma may not be well-received by a child who has, leaving the child feeling unsupported and struggling and you overwhelmed and feeling like a failure. The result is often defiance, power struggle, conflict, and in many cases, serious long-term consequences. For many parents, the thought of having more children is overwhelming until they really understand the role trauma has played in the difficulties they and their child have faced and they have the tools they need to overcome those challenges together.

With a better understanding of how these children think and behave and what kind of support they need from the adults in their lives, you can care for them in a way that reduces their suffering and encourages their emotional health and long-term success. When you take the Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts class at Willow Womens Center, you can expect to learn:

  • How trauma impacts social, emotional, and behavioral development
  • How to deal with unhealthy behaviors like defiance with love and empathy – in a way that works and teaches responsibility and natural consequences
  • The importance of empathy (versus sympathy) and how to demonstrate it in your interactions
  • How to set limits to prevent power struggles and develop healthy boundaries
  • Social and emotional barriers to learning and how you can help
  • How to empower children toward success in life: building self-competence, identifying strengths, learning responsibility, and more

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What can Affect a Child’s Mental Health?

It’s a common misconception that only foster and adoptive parents have children with challenging pasts. The truth is that children born into loving homes can experience adversity, too. All parents can find themselves raising a child who has experienced trauma or who is facing mental health challenges.

Situations that can affect a child’s mental health include:

  • surviving a life-threatening illness or accident
  • being abused physically, sexually, or psychologically in any setting
  • losing a loved one violently or suddenly
  • neglect or even poverty – not having their basic needs met
  • living in a country in active war or escaping as a refugee
  • attachment problems due to postpartum depression, an absent parent, or other issues
  • divorce or the sudden departure of a parent
  • bullying at school or in other settings

This list is not exhaustive; other factors can affect a child’s mental health as well. No family is immune from mental health challenges.

What is the Most Compelling Reason to Take Parenting Classes?

Parenting classes give you the tools, resources, and support you need to be the best parent you can be. Whether you grew up with parents who were great role models or no role model at all, parenting is challenging. It looks easy from the armchair but it’s not black and white in practice. The single most impactful step you can take to up your game is to prepare yourself by learning how children think and behave, what they need from the adults in their lives, and how you can provide it for them in a way that offers both love and the lessons they need to lead happy, successful lives. Parents who have taken a parenting class:

  • are more competent, effective, and satisfied
  • have higher self-esteem
  • practice positive parenting practices like planned discipline and positive language
  • have more social connections with other parents who can provide support
  • notice improvement in the behavior of their children (sharing and empathy, for example)
  • have better interactions with their children
  • see short-term improvements in their own mental health
  • are at lower risk of abusing their children or using corporal punishment

Furthermore, parents of children with challenging pasts simply cannot navigate it alone. Parenting these children requires a support network and a strong understanding of the lasting impact of trauma and the most successful approaches to parenting through trauma.

Willow Womens Center Classes and Services

Willow Womens Center offers several classes for parents and other adults who play a role in the lives of children. Whetheryou have just learned that you are pregnant and you are trying to make a decision or you already have children at home, consider enrolling in one of the parenting classes at Willow Womens Center. Meet other parents who are facing some of the same challenges as you, get insight into why your children think and behave the way they do, and learn how to stop the power struggle and achieve peace in your home. Willow Womens Center is located in Beloit, WI, and offers confidential pregnancy testing and counseling, STD screening, ultrasounds, and free parenting classes. You can schedule an appointment online with our compassionate team today.