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Parenting programme to prevent violence against children

BIJELO POLJE, 12 April 2018 – How to apply non-violent disciplining and be a better parent? The response to this question was received by parents in Bijelo Polje who joined the parenting programme delivered by the city’s Primary Health Care Centre, with the support of UNICEF and the European Union.

Over three months and through 12 modules, parents learned about positive parenting practices.

Admir Medjedovic, a father of four, talks about benefits of the “Parenting for Lifelong Health” programme – UNICEF Montenegro / 2018 / Dusko Miljanic

The experience proved to be valuable for Admir Međedović, a father of four, who joined the workshop as a divorced parent. He said the workshop had helped him be a better parent: “Now I’m calm. Here in this area there is often a lot of anger, and now we’re calm, we communicate better and work as a team. Children are a mirror image of our own behaviour. The way we behave – they do the same, they are just after our attention.”

After the workshop, Elvira Kurčehajić copes with parenting challenges with greater ease.

“I have a child with Down syndrome, my youngest. My desire was to see how his sister can help him become as good as possible, and for her to be a better sister. Each workshop helped us see how we can work with our children to resolve issues.”

The parenting programme is primarily aimed at preventing violence against children, establishing positive relationships between parents and children, and developing a sense of competence in parents. It is intended to ensure a healthy childhood for children aged 2 to 9, and is currently being implemented in four Montenegrin municipalities –Podgorica, Nikšić, Bijelo Polje and Berane. This “Parenting for Lifelong Health” programme is being implemented in another 15 or so countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

The facilitator, Tina Novović, said that the workshops had helped dispel misconceptions about building parental authority: “People mistakenly believe that beating a child can solve problems. It is wrong not to appreciate the child; the child should have a part of the day when he or she sets the agenda with the parents. It is a misconception that children should only be obedient.”

A psychologist at the Primary Healthcare Centre in Bijelo Polje, Danijela Femic (right), during the “Parenting for Lifelong Health” workshop – UNICEF Montenegro / 2018 / Dusko Miljanic

Her colleague, Danijela Femić, a psychologist at the Primary Healthcare Centre in Bijelo Polje, is of a similar opinion.

“Initially parents were quite rigid, with a sort of military discipline. They have come a long way now and do not take such an approach anymore; rather they come down to the child’s level and talk to them. Parents who used to be preoccupied with their work, now put their child first, and the job second,” explained Femić, and said that parents showed interest in continuing with the programme.

The idea for the workshops to become a regular parenting school is also supported by the Primary Healthcare Centre’s director, Majda Dobardžić: “This is just the beginning; I see it as a nucleus that will expand.”



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