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Teaching Parenting Skills to Adolescents

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Many adolescents are not prepared for parenthood, but that doesn’t prevent a teen from becoming a parent. Even if teen parenting isn’t in your child’s future, parenting skills enable your child to be a better babysitter, teacher, aunt or uncle. The training also prepares your child to be an effective parent when children come into her home.

High School Education

Many high schools offer child development classes to adolescents -- not just those who are facing a teen pregnancy. Teens learn how children’s brains develop during pregnancy and early childhood and how to create a healthy learning environment for kids. Parenting classes also teach the teens about simple skills such as feeding, bathing and caring for babies and young children. Adolescents might not receive a lot of practical experience in class, but they might apply the information at home with younger siblings, babysitting and working with children.

Hands-on Parenting Practicum

Education programs might partner with preschools and educational centers to give students an opportunity to put educational principles into practice. Teens can read to young children, work with them on crafts and help them learn to recognize letters, numbers, colors and shapes. Your teen would discover how children really learn, because theory and practical experience don’t always provide the same results. Your teen might also apply the classroom principles in other environments, such as employment at a child care center or when babysitting.

Teen Parenting Classes

Teens involved in a teen pregnancy might prepare by taking parenting preparation classes in conjunction with childbirth preparation classes. Those classes might focus on caring for infants and babies. Teens will learn how to feed, bathe and change diapers so they are prepared to do so when the baby arrives. Practice might start with dolls -- many classes use dolls with electronic features that allow teens to experience realistic situations such as babies that cry inconsolably or babies who wake every several hours wanting to eat. Parenting instructors might mentor teens so they have some support in the early months following birth.

Teen Parents in School

Teen parents have a difficult time finishing their high school education and parenting, so many school districts offer teen parents educational programs that include parenting education with on-site childcare. Teens in those programs often spend part of the day in the childcare center caring for their young children under the supervision of early childhood education specialists. The instructors provide hands-on support so the teens and their children get the best possible start while parents also work to complete their high school education.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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