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University opens course to improve parenting skills

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-29 11:38
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To help parents be better parents in today's fast-evolving society, East China Normal University in Shanghai has launched a "mini-major" in family education.

Subjects from psychological stress and internet addiction are covered in the course.

Altogether 120 parents with children of different ages have signed up for the mini-major, the first of its kind in the country, and they will have to complete 100 class hours within four months combining offline and online study to obtain a diploma.

"Parents' anxiety about their children's study is more intense today than ever before. We integrated science- and research-based knowledge to tell parents how to keep calm and avoid getting caught up in the social tide," said Yan Hanbing, dean of the School of Open Learning and Education at the university.

"This is intended to free parents from the stress, and thus the parent-child relationship in many families can be more relaxing and enjoyable," she said.

The subjects will include three core courses about family relations, psychology and character nurturing, and more than 20 elective ones. Parents can select the classes according to their children's ages and the problems they want to solve, said Yan.

"Parents play different roles when their children grow. They are caregivers, coaches and consultants when their children are little babies, pupils and in adolescence," said Yan.

"In all of the classes, parents will not only learn cutting-edge concepts and basic knowledge but also be given the opportunity to train their practical operations," she said.

Yan said that surrounded by the education competition today, many parents choose to sign their children up for more and more extracurricular classes in response. However, in their classes, she said they will show the parents with research data that if they occupy all their children's spare time with study, it may impair their interests and motivations for learning.

Parents will learn that there are usually five reasons for minors to be addicted to the internet, which include a sudden setback and the absence of a real playmate in life, and that will help them deal with the root cause of the children's behaviors, said Yan.

Education experts said that some principles remain the same no matter how social environments are changing. They include that parents ask their children for their opinions from an early age to help them have their own ideas and be able to plan. Parents shall also encourage their children to participate in family chores from an early age to nurture their sense of responsibility.

"It's never repetitive to repeat the importance for parents to build a strong emotional bond with their children before school age, which is crucial for their emotional stability for a lifetime," said professor He Lingfeng, who is in charge of the character nurturing course.

Hao Zhaoqiang, a father of a high school student, was among the learners. He said that parents are always the best teachers for a child, and he hopes the courses can help him have a deeper understanding of family education and its application.

"I hope that the change in me may have an impact on my child to be more optimistic toward the future and be a person with a stronger sense of social responsibility," he said.

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