Purposeful parenting workshop helps parents be more effective

Indiana University East Assistant Professor of Psychology Beth Trammell has organized a workshop for parents and caregivers to set up preventative strategies to bring out positive behavior from the children under their care.

The workshop offers participants the ability to learn essential skills to being a more purposeful and effective parent. The first workshop is currently underway with the last session to be held April 26. Trammell said the goal is to offer at least one workshop per year; she hopes to host the next workshop in fall 2015.

Each of the three, two-hour sessions offer hands-on training, coaching and feedback for parents of children ages 18 months through 10 years of age. Borrowing many ideas from the evidenced-based approach parent-child interaction therapy, the goals of the workshop are to increase parent’s knowledge and skills on effective communication and behavior modification, as well as to examine the effectiveness of the program to give parents the skills necessary to gain compliance with their child.

Trammell is a licensed psychologist and has a private practice working with families outside of her job at IU East. During the workshop, she assists participants to set up preventative strategies including creating schedules, behavior plans, and to develop effective communication skills.

Denise Ballard is a parent educator for Birth to Five. She said she hears the same frustrations about certain topics from parents. She is participating in the workshop to help provide additional resources to parents.

“Most of the parents I work with have not thought about routines, being consistent with rules, etc. I have pointers and information that I give to them on those topics but I was hoping to gain another perspective to help the families that I work with,” Ballard said. “Beth has a warm, open approach to the class that has made parents feel welcome to share their struggles. The class is very hands-on and step-by-step instructions are given to try at home, as well as homework assignments. The class is very organized and the notebook given was a fantastic tool to remember what has been discussed in class. This is a great, practical class for parents of all ages of children.”

In addition, Trammell is using the workshop in coordination with her academic research. This study is aimed at increasing overall positive parenting strategies for parents whose children display non-compliant behavior on a consistent basis. Essentially, she hopes to  find out if an extra hour of individual instruction with a parent or caregiver, in addition to attending the workshop, will improve interaction with their children overall.

The workshop is also helping IU East students enrolled in her Behavior Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence course to fulfill service-learning credits. Twelve undergraduates majoring in psychology are assisting with the workshop.

Paige Spencer is a senior from Lynn, Ind. She said participating in the workshops have helped enhance her education by working directly with children. Spencer provided a snake bubble activity, a no mess form of blowing bubbles, and helped the older children play a game of Heads Up! on the iPad during the second workshop.

“We see the behaviors first-hand that we’ve covered in class and develop a better understanding of those behaviors,” Spencer said.

“They are creating age appropriate activities for the children as a way to learn about typical child development through the workshop,” Trammell said. “These are great skills for psychology majors to learn so they can apply what they have learned to their work in the field. They will be more effective in working with children when they go into practice.”

Trammell said students develop the activities and then Skype with an outside child behavioral consultant in class to get feedback on their work and to ensure that the activities are age appropriate for the children in the workshop.

“All in all, I think the project has been really fun for both the IU East students and the participants. I am always looking for ways to get students to apply their knowledge from the classroom to people and places outside of the classroom. And I am always looking to help parents feel more effective. This project allows me to incorporate both of those things.”

For more information, contact Beth Trammell, assistant professor of psychology, at (765) 973-8362 or email batramme@iue.edu.