See also, Video Testimonials for more parent, teacher, and group leader reflections!

We really think that the Adoption Team should take this course on board. It was certainly a light at the end of a very dark tunnel for us in terms of our eldest son’s behavior. When you adopt – as we did two boys – it’s such an unreal experience. You’ve spent years trying for children then going through the “process” without ever knowing if you’ll be successful or not. Then suddenly eight days after meeting two boys – then aged 2 and 5 – you are parents. A lot of emphasis is put on how you’ll talk to the children about the fact that they are adopted, how you’ll explain their early years to them, how you’ll cope meeting the birth parents, but not much on how to build and sustain a good relationship with your children.

Adoption is such a drastic, life changing experience, it is hard to see how you could ever be really prepared for it, but we firmly believe that Webster-Stratton is an excellent foundation on which to build. When we started the course we were desperate, our eldest son’s behavior had continued to deteriorate at home, at school, and at any outside activity he had joined.

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The pyramid was a revelation. The idea of child-led play gave us a forum for our eldest son to do something which we could praise and use to build up his confidence and self-esteem. We’d just got caught in the “nag trap” where everything he did or didn’t do was wrong. The emotional piggy bank made such sense. In fact, the whole process has reached further into our lives, and we use the model at work and with family members. It’s good to know that what we are doing now is helping our sons to develop confidence and self-esteem, and that we are helping them to learn how to problem solve.

Like anything worthwhile it’s not easy. It requires effort and consistency, but it has given a framework that has produced good results, and we are very grateful to our facilitators for introducing us to the Webster-Stratton way.

Two adoptive parents

My son is now 18 years old and getting ready to graduate from high school. In 1996 we were part of this program. We were in a group of parents who met every week for 6 months to learn better ways to deal with our child who was diagnosed with Oppositional Behavior Disorder when he was 4 years old. He was the youngest child in our group. While we learned, so did our children, Dinosaur School. I have to say it was the best spent 6 months of our lives. I felt then, and continue to feel so blessed by the opportunity to participate in your program. It truly saved our child and our family. He was out of control and I was afraid and he was only 4. How was I supposed to deal with and control a teen ager if I could not manage a toddler? Our pediatrician did not give us any hopes at all when he diagnosed this child with ODD. He told us to keep on the lookout for “full blown conduct disorder” and told us words like “medications” and “institutionalized.” I was stunned. I did everything I could to find a hope when I realized what conduct disorder really meant.

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One day I saw Carolyn on the TV. I wrote down the number and almost forgot to check it out. When I finally did call… well, since that day I have known that it was a gift. He is a successful student. He is well rounded. He has a plan for his life that he wants to be a game designer, he has already written a few games. He has been dating the same girl for 3 years and I witnessed her deal with him while he was almost in a meltdown, it was beautiful. You would have thought she had taken the classes right along with us. Yes, unfortunately he sometimes still has a meltdown… but not nearly like they use to be, and no meds, no institution. I am so proud and so grateful. I just wanted to let you know that no matter how many success stores you hear or have on your web site, that there is one real boy, who was the youngest ever to go into the program, that turned out so much better than even you could have imagined. When you see our video of the home study and see how far we all have come, it’s a miracle, a blessing, and I can never say enough thank yous to you and your programs.

Grateful parents
This family contacted us through our website.

Week One: My parenting course this morning 9:30 – 11:30

I am dreading it. I hope my lift isn’t there and I can make a dash for it and go home. My lift is there, and I am feeling really sick, and very nervous. We are outside the room, I feel really shaky, I hope the ladies are nice. I meet the facilitators and the rest of the group; they are all very pleasant people. The facilitator explains that the video camera is only on her and not on any of us. Thank goodness. During the morning the facilitator talked to us all about spending quality time with our children. I automatically started thinking, “I do that anyway.” I didn’t need to come here to be told to play with my children. At that point I wanted to get up and go home. But, that would have been more embarrassing, so I stayed. We watched small pieces of video of parents trying to play with their children. It got a bit more interesting, as I could see myself in some of those films. I thought playing with your children, spending quality time with them, was enough to make them feel that you like sharing your time with them. But listening to the facilitator and the group, and reading the handouts, I know then that I could learn how to be a calmer parent by doing things differently and taking a new approach. (Don’t know about next week.)

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Week Two: My parenting course this morning 9:30 – 11:30

My lift is waiting for me once again, even though I am not quite as nervous, I am still wondering why I am putting myself through this torment of feeling embarrassed, nervous and sick. I remind myself I am doing it to get some confidence in myself and to pass that on to my children. The facilitators are there waiting for us to come in and settle down. They greet us all in a lovely way, and the rest of the group is all so friendly. I feel better already. The facilitator talks about our homework task, which was to set 10 minutes aside for special time with our children doing child-led play, which I found easier to do indoors than outdoors. The facilitator asks us all in our turns how we got on. She was really pleased with all of us. We had all tried very hard to do the 10 minutes a day. At first it seemed easy to think 10 minutes, but some days it was very difficult to find that 10 minutes, so maybe we only did 5 minutes. But the facilitator said that was fine, as long as we explain it clearly to our children. We watched video pieces again. Some of the same parents getting a little better at child-led play and some still hopeless. Again, I found the videos very interesting, and helpful. When the parent wasn’t so good at the play sessions, I would watch the reaction from the children and see my own children doing that. So watching those pieces of film helped me do things differently. (I will come next week.)

Week Three: My parenting course this morning 9:30 – 11:30

I got to class by myself this week, I felt quite pleased with myself and I am looking forward to it. Everyone seemed pleased to see me, and the facilitator was especially pleased that I had made it with no help. Again all the group was really lovely and supportive of each other. We talked about how we got on with play again, and what benefits it had for the children. We watched videos again, and again they were most helpful. After we watch snippets of videos the facilitator asks us questions and I personally find that good for me, as I pick up a lot from other members of the group.

We talked about the pyramid, and how we will work up it in the weeks to come. At that point I thought no way will I be able to do all the things Jane was talking about. The ten minutes a day, doing child-led play and talking to the children differently was enough for me at the moment, thank you. But I was happy to give it a go. The facilitators gave us all handouts to read, refrigerator notes and charts to fill in. I thought “ho, this is a lot to take in,” but I will try my best. One of the handouts was about behaviors to praise and encourage. I found this very helpful. I used this a lot in the week. I am enjoying the class now. I am looking forward to next week.

As the weeks go by, I long for Wednesday mornings. I can’t wait to get to the group sessions to share my experiences of the past week. Sometimes I go home from the sessions thinking to myself, “ho I’m not going to try what has been suggested this week, as I know it won’t work.” Then, when I’m at home with my children, just about to pull my hair out over a situation, suddenly I remember what new strategy we had learned in our last session. Usually I try it, and nine times out of ten it works straight away. I have to admit I was wrong, and can’t wait to tell the facilitators and the group about it.

Ignoring was a classic of a situation that occurred and I thought “I can’t do that,” but I did and it worked and is still working. Time out was another one that I honestly thought wouldn’t work with my children, but the threat of time out was enough and luckily I have not had to use it.

Bedtime was another struggle for me and I used to get very worked up before it was time for bed, just the thought of what was to come used to work me up. Then the facilitator did some role-play with us in one of our sessions, where I was taught how to be firm and learn to ignore all the attention seeking I would get from my son at bedtime. Again, I thought no way can I be that strong and ignore that well and that he would go to bed and stay there. The first night was a disaster, but I persevered. The next night wasn’t quite as bad as usual, but it wasn’t good either. So the third night, I was very determined to have some quality time for ME! So when I kept getting notes pushed under the lounge door, I ignored them, even when the writing got BIGGER and BIGGER and the works were quite upsetting (like you are a cruel mother, you are starving me to death!). I still ignored him, even when he was screaming down the hall “I’m thirsty, I’m going to die.” I still ignored him and the final straw was when he came into the lounge and switched off the telly. I got up and held his hand tight, took him to his bed and said very firmly “BED!” With that my son stayed in bed, and from that night onwards I am pleased to say that bedtimes are now pleasant.

So all in all, I have gone from the boiling point to a very calm mother. I am pleased I was talked into joining the Carolyn Webster-Stratton training program. I am pleased that the facilitator kept ringing me to remind me the date it started. I am pleased I had a chaperone to take me there for the first few weeks, without that support I would not have gone to the first session. I am grateful to the facilitator for the texts in the following weeks – without that support I would not have gone for the next two, three weeks, but now it has come to an end. I know I shall miss the sessions, but I will take with me everything I was taught, and the friends I have made.

Since doing the Carolyn Webster-Stratton course I am happy to say that my life with my children has changed 99.9% (well nobody is ever 100% wrong are they?)

A mother
This mother was referred to the program. She had moved to the area as a survivor of domestic violence. Her house was burned and she was seriously injured.