Experts say that childhood development is nothing less than crucial. What a child learns at, say, the age of five will set the basis for his/her behaviour, habits and outlook. Consequently, it becomes essential for parents to communicate genuinely and confidently and this is where Maryam Afnan Ahmad — a certified Parent Effectiveness Trainer — comes in.
Ahmad’s venture Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) helps parents in building peaceful and loving relationships with their children, while constructively emphasizing the values of independence, confidence, resilience and consideration. She follows award-winning psychologist and three-time Nobel Prize nominee Dr Thomas Gordon’s model, who started PET 50 years ago. Ahmad’s own interest developed when she switched from marketing to teaching in 2004 and taught at Nust Business School for a year. “The shift confirmed my own belief in teaching as well as personal development, so I launched my own training course in 2006.” However, it was only in 2007, while living in Beijing, that Ahmad discovered PET. In 2008, Kathryn Tongues (Ahmad’s mentor) launched an official PET programme in Beijing and Ahmad joined the first batch for further training.
“Essentially PET works on improving parents’ and teachers’ communication skills,” says Ahmad. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the tactics used by professional counsellors, parents can grasp these techniques through PET. Ahmad points out that her programme examines the various situations that parents/teachers face when interacting with children. “Dr Gordon created a framework to easily categorise these situations.” She believes that the Gordon Model eases the pressure on parents by helping them identify under which ‘category’ the situation falls. This makes implementing the appropriate strategy a straightforward, stress free task.
Issues that PET addresses
Ahmad’s PET course addresses four specific areas: What to do when you want to help the child solve a problem, what to do when you have issues with your child’s conduct, what to do when both parties have a problem and finally, how to strengthen relationships and keep them conflict-free.
Additionally, she feels that the key issues are pretty universal and that Pakistan is not unique in this respect, “I think children and parents are facing similar issues all over the world. We’re all trying to figure out how to prepare our children for the future while making them adept at the lessons we’ve learned over the ages.”
PET at Kuch Khaas
Ahmad’s course at Kuch Khaas takes eight weeks to cover the requisite skills (“because each week we learn a specific skill or concept from the framework”). Ahmad will be holding three sessions every Saturday from 1 to 4 pm. “By the end of the course, parents will have the skills and confidence required for parenting, ,” she adds.
First time for PAK
According to Ahmad, no one other than her has forayed into this field; hence it’s safe to say that this is a relatively new concept in Pakistan. She has also held workshops and training courses in Lahore (2011), which got her a lot of constructive feedback.
Ahmad had a few tips
1. Start with goals as parents. What kind of people do you want your children to be as adults? Base your decisions on those goals.
2. Find support systems for yourselves. This is especially crucial for new parents, whose children are so young that they actually limit themselves to confined social circles.
3. Read up on topics you have questions about.
4. Enjoy your child’s growth as a unique individual.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2012.