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VFW National Home Parents Praise Parenting Class

National Home Case Manager Naomi

“From understanding your own parents, to yourself, and to your own parenting, this class is relevant to literally everyone,” wrote one resident parent in a follow up survey to a recent parenting class presented by the VFW National Home on campus.

“The information was applicable to all parents, regardless of your child’s temperament,” wrote another parent about the class entitled Chaos to Calm: Effective Parenting of Challenging Children based on the book of the same name by Janet E. Heininger, PhD. and Sharon K. Weiss, M.Ed.

VFW National Home Advanced Case Manager, Naomi McClurg presented the course zeroing in on specific take aways for the parents who attended the class:

  • Planned parenting vs. reactive parenting
  • No one right way to parent
  • Obtain tools to navigate challenging behaviors
  • Set realistic goals
  • Avoiding common traps and pitfalls when dealing with a challenging child

“All parents want to be better parents and if they have a challenging child there are certain techniques that work better than others. This is one way to learn evidence-based practices that are effective for parenting,” said McClurg who added that the class and others like this serve to help residents achieve the goals established when they first begin the program.

“We are a goal focused program, so families who participate leave differently than when the first arrived.  Most parents desire to increase their knowledge of child development and parenting techniques.”

Not One Size Fits All

McClurg reinforces the “planned parenting” method presented in the book emphasizing that each child can be very different from another:

“The right way implies that there is only one kind of child. I advocate and teach planned parenting rather than reactive parenting. It isn’t easy. It takes more work, more time, and more thought. It’s a lifestyle, not a one-time effort. It is, however, the most empowering change I have ever witnessed in a parent. The result is the freedom to see your child for what they are, instead of what they are not, and to value and build on their strengths.”

Children Should Know What to Expect

 The class content underscored the need for routine in a child’s life described by author Sharon Weiss as “a sequence of tasks your child can do every day in the same order.”

Parents who were participating virtually and in person were asked a series of questions to help develop a routine:

  1. What do I want my child to do instead of what they are doing?
  2. How can I put it in a visual format so they don’t have to rely on me telling them what to do?
  3. What will make it worth their while?

Answers to these questions helped parents shape their own guidelines based on the principles put forth in the book:

  • All children need and want boundaries
  • Guidelines exist in all families, though they may not be spoken or written
  • Keep rules short and to the point
  • Have the fewest number of rules possible
  • Be consistent in using and enforcing the rules
  • Call attention to rules when the child is following, them not just when violated

McClurg addressed specific parenting dilemmas that included:  how to get children to help with housework and children interrupting when the parent is on the phone, as well as restructuring family dynamics and how to hold a family meeting to solve conflicts and problems.

“Children aren’t born with a manual. Everyone wants to be the best parent they can be,” said McClurg.

The VFW National Home provided copies of the book Chaos to Calm to each of the parents who attended, many of whom asked for a follow up class that would go more in depth.

“A second class is planned in the near future that will probably focus on setting up routines adding one piece at a time to see what is working or not working in each family,” said McClurg.


Heininger, PhD, Janet E.  and Sharon K. Wiess, M.Ed. (2001) Chaos to Calm: Effective Parenting of Challenging Children with ADHD and other Behavioral Problems. Perigee Books, Berkley Publishing Group, New York, NY.

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