The “ParentChat” programme is helping Milos gain new skills
"ParentChat" programme responds to the need to support parents in coping with children in stressful situations
PODGORICA, 29 June 2021 – Milos Rajkovic is a father of three – Andjela is eight, Milan is four, while Ksenija is four months old. He is trying to build a relationship of trust with them without coercion or corporal punishment.
My children are good, but sometimes they are mischievous, and I was constantly looking for a way to calm them down, persuade them to tidy up their toys, and teach them what is positive and what is not. One day, I learned about UNICEF’s parenting programme and I decided to apply to acquire skills that will help me in raising my children.
Milos was one of the parents who participated in “ParentChat”, launched in Montenegro this year. The programme lasted eight weeks and was implemented by UNICEF in cooperation the NGO “Parents”, the public preschool institutions “Dragan Kovacevic” in Niksic and “Duso Basekic” in Bijelo Polje, and the primary healthcare centres in Bijelo Polje and Berane.
Although mothers are participating in such programmes in higher numbers, Milos, aware of the importance of the father's role in the child's upbringing, decided to apply.
The role of father is equally important as the role of mother, and I am giving my best to make my contribution real – this is my motivation for participating in this programme.
Thanks to conversations and exchanging experiences with the other parents, Milos has mastered new strategies to help him build a positive relationship with his four-year-old son.
Whenever Milan started arguing with his sister, I would use the conflict resolution methods I learned during the workshops, and I could see the progress. Although we have never yelled a lot as a family, it now occurs even less often. We laugh more and manage to agree on good behaviour through conversation and pointing to good examples.
The “ParentChat” programme is designed for the parents of children aged 2-17 who, by participating in this programme, want to improve the socio-emotional development of their children and learn how positive parenting techniques could help improve relationships and prevent mental health problems in the family.
Participants from all over Montenegro attended group meetings and individual consultations online. The workshop in which Milos participated was facilitated by a psychologist from Nikšić, Radovan Cicmil.
Parents were invited to share and exchange their experiences, provide advice, receive support, ask questions and get answers to all their doubts and challenges they have faced, using video calls and text messages in the chat group.
The workshops showed parents how to spend quality time with their child, talk to children about feelings, and encourage positive behaviour by giving praise. Parents learned how to give clear, positive and realistic instructions which helped to establish household rules and daily routines. The programme also provided parents with advice on how to respond to complex and crisis situations.
Vladan Golubović, UNICEF's Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Health consultant, says the "ParentChat" programme responds to the need to support parents in coping with children in stressful situations.
Additional stress experienced by families during the coronavirus pandemic – for example, limited movement, illness, and financial insecurity – has aggravated the challenges faced by parents and guardians. Programmes like this help empower them to cope with the challenges more easily.
“ParentChat” is a part of the Parenting for Lifelong Health suite of parenting programmes, developed and tested by the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town in South Africa, and the Universities of Oxford and Bangor in the United Kingdom, with the support of UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Montenegro, “ParentChat” is implemented as part of the programme “Mitigation of the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of children and parents in the Western Balkans and Turkey” which is funded by the European Union.