A few years ago my parenting struggles led me to a free series of teen parenting classes taught by Kathy Slattengren of Priceless Parenting. I made it to only two of the six classes. But still, I learned so much in two classes; I craved more instruction. Help was as close as my computer: online parenting classes.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the camaraderie of taking an in-person class with other parents. But in our hectic day-to-day lives, finding time for yet another in-person engagement is near impossible.
Plus, taking a class online offers another boon to parents: anonymity.
“Parenting is not intuitive; we all don’t know what we are doing,” says Amy Lang, founder of Birds + Bees + Kids, a Seattle-based organization that provides a range of web-based parenting classes. “We are embarrassed and ashamed that we don’t know what we are doing when our child is starting to make us homicidal, and we don’t reach out for help. One reach that is completely anonymous and private is to take online classes.”
Finding a class that fits
Though there are a growing number of choices for parenting education online, simply Googling will probably not get you where you want to go. So we did the research for you.
This list showcases well-reputed, web-based parenting classes. All have received kudos from parents who have taken them and are steeped in the latest research findings. Browse through our findings or click directly to the ones you want to research.
Background: Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., has helped thousands of parents and teachers from across the United States to Australia through online classes, presentations, coaching and books. Participants report their success in replacing yelling and threatening with calm, confident responses.
Philosophy: Slattengren wants to help parents thrive by supporting parents to do their best possible parenting. She believes parents want to have warm, loving relationships with their children who want their parents’ love and acceptance. When parents know what to expect at their children’s ages and how to respond in healthy ways to challenging behavior, they are set up for success.
Online options: The basic self-paced class has 11 audio/video lessons and parents have three months to finish it. Both parents can take this class for $59. The DANCE Parenting Class ($149) contains the same amount of information plus a private coaching call with the instructor.
Age range covered: Priceless Parenting’s online classes are broken into four groups: parenting children ages 5 and under, ages 6 to 12, ages 13 to 18 and parenting teens through the college transition.
Testimonial: After just two classes into her online class, I was already a happier parent. I like that Slattengren pointed out that when our emotions get in the way of parenting, we have to work on our own issues. Thanks to her tips, I have figured out how to have my kids help more around the house.
From the founder: “When parents are feeling angry and frustrated by their children’s behavior, I love helping them discover how to respond in ways which improve both the children’s behavior and their relationship. ”
Background: Founder Amy McCready found parenting more difficult than her senior level job at a Fortune 500 company, so she began taking parenting classes based on Alfred Adler’s child-rearing principles and Positive Discipline theory. After studying and taking many classes, she used her instructional design experience to create her own parenting program and taught in the Raleigh-Durham area. In 2009, her company made the switch to teaching all of their classes online and now parents on six continents take classes.
Online options: The bronze level course ($199) offers one year of access to 42 on-demand videos. The silver level course ($249) offers parents lifetime access to same training videos plus in plus in-depth training modules for the most frustrating power struggles. Silver members also attend live members-only training webinars hosted by McCready. The gold level course ($299) also offers a gold members-only Facebook community, MP3 recordings of course modules and unlimited Ask Amy Group Coaching support during the first year. (You can also start learning with McCready in her free webinar).
Age range covered: ages 2 through 16
Testimonial: “Positive Parenting Solutions is a life-transforming course and had a tremendous, positive influence on our family. It does not teach a set of quick-fix short-term techniques; instead, it goes to the foundation based on mutual respect and dignity, and from there builds a resulting toolbox.”
From the founder: “As a recovering yeller, my mission is to help parents bring the joy back to parenting while raising respectful, responsible and grateful kids.”
Background: Founded initially to help educators and helping professionals who wanted in-depth training based on the work of developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D, this online institute now includes the needs of the parents, too. Neufeld’s approach focuses on helping parents become the answer to their children, regardless of the origins of the troubling behavior.
Philosophy: Using developmental science and Neufeld’s attachment-based developmental approach, the Neufeld Institute’s mission is to rejoin parents, teachers and helping professionals to their natural intuition.
Online options: The Neufeld Institute offers more than 20 courses that can be taken in a variety of ways. Most parents prefer the flexibility of campus courses, independently watching Dr. Neufeld’s filmed lectures, then coming together for scheduled online classes supported by facilitators. People from all over the world participate in these online cohorts and classes are recorded for later viewing. Self-paced study options are also available. A study pass for the Neufeld Institute’s entire virtual campus is included with campus course registration, too.
Age range covered: all ages
Testimonial: “I learned that parenting is not something with rules or tricks that I need to memorize and perfect, but is a path of guiding my kids to realizing their human potential.”
From the founder: “We may not know where we’re going. We may be completely bewildered. But when our children are attached to us, they have a wonderful sense of being at home. All is right. They don’t feel lost.”
Background: Seattle-based sexual health educator Amy Lang started Birds + Bees + Kids because she wanted to help parents become educated and comfortable about talking to children at any age about sexuality, love and relationships. She teaches in-person workshops and online classes.
Philosophy: From Lang: “I believe parents should be their children’s first and primary sex educators and I show them that the sex talks can be easy, open and effective.”
Online options: Hour-long online classes are taught via live webcast once a month. Participants see Lang talking and the interaction happens with text chat. She teaches a different topic each month, such as “The Birds + Bees from Age 5 to 8: What to Say and How to Say It.” Check out this page to find out about her upcoming classes.
Age range covered: ages 4 to 12
Testimonial: “I watched the webcast on pornography yesterday and found it helpful. Providing structure so that kids can develop healthful attitudes and understanding of sex made sense to me.”
From the founder: “The sooner parents get over themselves and their discomfort and get talking, the better it is for everyone, most importantly their kids.”
Background: These classes are based on the best-selling Positive Discipline book series by Dr. Jane Nelsen.
Philosophy: Nelsen’s books are based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, who both believed in treating children with respect, kindness and a firm approach free of spoiling and pampering.
Online options: Watch this video for an introduction to the online class ($69). The class includes five hours of video instruction in six lessons, with, among other beenfits, access to the videos for one year, downloadable workbooks and an eBook version of Positive Discipline.
Age range covered: toddler through teen
Testimonial: “I deeply appreciate how REAL Jane and her daughter [the other teacher in the videos is Jane’s daughter] are — [they] have all the best intentions to be good parents AND acknowledge they are human, not perfect and make mistakes.”
From the founder: “I created this online class because I am so passionate about how much Positive Discipline has helped me in my own life and I want to share these parenting tools with others.”
Background: With her background as a child and family therapist and her role as a parent coach, Nicole Schwarz, MA, LMFT, knows respectful communication is a huge obstacle for many families. This course challenges parents to take the first step by looking at their own communication patterns, then guides parents to tackle communication challenges with new skills and strategies that build strong relationships with their kids.
Philosophy: Class material uses Positive Parenting and Collaborative Problem Solving techniques.
Online options: This 7-week e-course provides parents with one lesson via email each week ($69). Parents can read through the material and complete the enhancement activities on their own time. Two live Q&A webinars (also recorded) are held during each course session. Parents can submit specific questions related to course material and can participate in a Facebook group. Courses are offered four times each year; see website for details.
Age range covered: toddler through teen
Testimonial: “Managing my emotions has changed the whole course with my daughter. We’ve had so many more positive interactions these past couple weeks.”
From the founder: ”I believe that positive, respectful communication is possible for every family, and I am excited to support parents as they begin the process of changing the communication in their home.”
Background: Based on course leader Dr. Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids. Markham also has a PhD in clinical psychology.
Philosophy: The Peaceful Parenting approach focuses on giving parents tools for self-regulation, strengthening and sweetening the parent-child connection, and teaching parents to coach kids so they WANT to cooperate, without yelling, threats, bribes or punishment. Markham frequently cites neuroscience studies and explains theory and research in child development, but she’s also a mom, so these ideas are parent-tested and accessible.
Online options: This self-paced, 12-week online course ($149; includes both parents and scholarships are available) includes 10 downloadable audio lessons (with transcripts) and two live calls-in with Markham answering parent. Also included are 60 daily inspirations: four-minute audios designed to rewire your brain for more love and less drama.
Participants receive a copy of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids and pdfs with homework assignments, journal prompts, exercises to do with your child and reminders to put on your refrigerator. The course includes free membership in the private Peaceful Parent online forum, moderated by Markham and coaches who have trained with her and access to the course materials for five years.
Age range covered: ages 1 to 10
Testimonial: “I recommend this course to everyone I know. I am amazed that these are the same kids who didn't listen and were hitting. Now when I get down on their level and connect, they do what I say. I have changed too. I hear Dr. Laura’s loving tone coming out of my mouth and I know what to say to turn things around when everyone is having a hard time! I am now willing to be silly with them, and it always helps them cooperate and makes the feeling in our home so much better. I also see a huge difference in how sweet they are to each other. I am not perfect but I am enough. I am tearing up writing this. It works!”
From the founder: “No one is peaceful all the time. But when you commit to regulating your own emotions, connecting with your child, and coaching instead of controlling, your heart and your home get a lot more peaceful. This course is designed to give any parent the support they need to parent with more peace, joy and connection.”
Background: Former teacher, school counselor and parent educator leader, Meghan Leahy has spent her entire career helping children and parents. She founded Meghan Leahy Parent Coach, LLC in 2010 to coach, create classes and give encouragement, hope and laughter to parents everywhere.
Philosophy: Take neuroscience, Neufeld theory, a dash of Buddhism, tons of common sense and whole lotta laughter and you have a parenting philosophy that almost every parent can relate to. Leahy believes every parent has the power to change and by focusing on connection rather than quick fixes, parents can find confidence and joy.
Online options: “From Conflict to Cooperation” ($119) is a self-guided online class perfect for busy parents of children 3 through 11. The class contains 11 lessons and 31 activities created to help parents address why they struggle with their children and how to cultivate cooperation and includes private Facebook page support with Leahy. A second option ($695) includes the online class as well as two private coaching sessions.
Age range covered: ages 3 to 11
Testimonial: “I like that there is no judgement. Instead lots of empathy for others. I like how people share ideas that have worked for them, pose struggles they are having, and even if someone doesn't have a solution, just hearing that someone else is going through the same struggles as you are helps you not to feel alone in this parenting journey.”
From the founder: “I believe that no situation is too dire, no child is too far-gone, and no parent is too discouraged to begin to change right now, right away. My mission is to help you bring lightness, laughter and love into your home. To teach you to forgive yourself when you are human and move forward. To feel in control and optimistic about the future, and to have fun with your family.”
Background: Melissa Benaroya, LICSW, is passionate about providing parents the tools and support they need to raise healthy happy children and find more joy in parenting. She has worked with children and families for more than 18 years and has helped over 1,000 parents feel more confident, in control and connected to their children. She is the co-founder of Grow Parenting and co-created the award winning parenting Mommy Matters workshop which she has lead for the last seven years in the Seattle area. In addition to being a licensed therapist and practicing as a private parent and family coach she is also a Certified Gottman Educator and Positive Discipline Educator.
Philosophy: Benaroya says, “My role is to help parents feel confident in their parenting, empowered in their decisions and fulfilled in their relationships.” She blends her clinical training with her knowledge of child development and discipline to assist parents in nurturing the relationship they want with their child while being both kind and firm. She feels strongly that parents can only be successful in creating the relationship they want with their child and use discipline effectively if they are tending to their own self care, needs and relationships.
Online options: The Childproof Parenting course is specifically focused on parents of toddlers and preschooler. The course includes six video modules, a private community group, and live video Q & A sessions. Students in the course will receive support from Benaroya over the first six weeks and will have lifetime access to the course, community group and materials.
Age range covered: ages 1 to 5
Testimonial: "Melissa’s course made our family a calmer, happier, more fun place to be. The principles were easy to grasp, but it was the practical, real-world approach that was transformative. I learned some simple, step-by-step techniques that changed my parenting, and was delighted at the immediate improvement in my kids' behavior! I felt confident about how to approach any parenting situation — setting boundaries became straightforward, leaving our family with the energy to focus on the fun part of having two energetic preschoolers!"
From the founder: “There is so much information and research now that parents today are overwhelemed with figuring out what works best for their family. My job is to help simplify. I help guide parents on their parenting journey, get clear about their values and goals for their family and determine what is needed to get there. The practices, skills and tools I share are evidenced based and incorporate the latest research and science. I’m on a mission to prove that all parents can have the confidence and skills needed to stop yelling, conflict and nagging and instead have peace, calm and cooperation without spending tens of hours or thousands of dollars.”