A new series of free courses started this month, giving Southend’s parents the chance to learn practical skills to bring up confident and happy babies and children.

Being a Parent courses are for families with children aged 1-4 years old. They are run by parents, and aim to help local mums and dads understand and manage their children’s feelings and behaviour.

Sam*, 40, is a single mum to a 2 year old. She attended the Being a Parent course at Centre Place Family Centre earlier this year. “The course has helped me to grow in confidence as a parent and I am getting to know people. It has helped me to encourage my son’s independence, his vocabulary is improving, he’s calmer and we’re having more fun together. It has made parenting easier because I understand more about being a child and what it’s like for them.”

“I felt isolated and lonely and found it difficult to meet other mums so I enquired at the children’s centre to see if there were any suitable courses. I didn’t feel that I needed to do the course, I just wanted to socialise with other parents, but this course is fantastic!”

“I had quite low expectations and thought that the facilitators wouldn’t be parents so wouldn’t understand what we experience but I was wrong. I have learnt so much. Each week we learned something new about how we should communicate with our children. For example we looked at alternative phrases to use and then put them into practice at home, so that week I asked Thomas* to put out his cutlery, and instead of saying “good boy” I focused on the effect rather than the label, so said “thank you for helping Mummy”.”

Sam now wants to gain a qualification and become a facilitator herself. “I definitely want to become a facilitator, there are four of us, including a Dad, working towards the Open College Network Level 3 which is a NVQ equivalent. The Kursaal needs local facilitators, and I don’t mean from Southend, but from the Kursaal, because they are more likely to be able to relate to them. We also need a mix of people from different backgrounds that speak different languages to cater for the wide mix of people here.”

The new Being a Parent courses are running at:

  • Cambridge Road Children’s Centre, every Monday from 19 Sept – 14 Nov, 10am – 12noon
  • Balmoral Community Centre, every Monday from 19 Sept – 21 Nov, 10am – 12noon
  • Friars Children’s Centre, every Monday from 19 Sept – 21 Nov, 12.30pm – 2.30pm

There is also a version of the course for parents of babies. Baby and Us aims to help mothers and fathers gain confidence in understanding their baby and develop ways to communicate with. New courses will be running at:

  • Friars Children’s Centre, every Monday from 19 Sept – 28 Nov 2016, 9.45am – 11.45am
  • Centre Place Family Centre, every Tuesday from 20 Sept – 22 Nov 2016, 12:30pm – 2.30pm
  • Summercourt Children’s Centre, every Wednesday from 28 Sept – 7 Dec 2016, 12.45pm – 14.45pm

Parents who want to sign up for one of the courses can do so through the Children’s Centre. For more information on courses visit www.southendinfopoint.org. Crèche places are available and must be booked.