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Fresh take for parents

Ten-month-old Levon checking out a wooden toy with mother Kate Williams in the background. PHOTO/KELSEY MCGARRY


By Hayley Gastmeier

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Observing how babies naturally behave with less adult intervention is the idea behind a new parenting programme being run in Wairarapa.

Parenting with Heart is facilitated by Kelsey McGarry, in Featherston on Tuesdays at Loco Coffee and Books.

She says the unique 10-week course has been well received.

“It’s not a course where we give out tips and tricks to get your children to do what you want . . . this is more about making a partnership between parents and their children.”

She said it was not the parents’ role to “fix the child”, but to empower them.

“It’s about doing things with the child, not to the child.”

An example of this would be for a parent to communicate to their child that they were going to wipe their nose so the child could anticipate what was going to happen.

“It opens up a whole other level of respect.”

Formerly an early childhood teacher and now a professional photographer, Ms McGarry, a Featherston resident, said she had always had a good relationship with her three adult children.

Having worked with children for many years, it seemed like a natural pathway to shift her focus to adults.

The course module is based on the work of Hungarian paediatrician Emmi Pikler and is written by Kiwi adult educator Pennie Brownlee.

Ms McGarry said the teachings fitted in with her personal parenting philosophy.

“Its aim is to create and nurture a culture of kindness around our children and the people who raise them.”

Six mothers and their babies are now in the programme but Ms McGarry is eager to expand the number of sessions if more parents are keen to come on board.

She said the small, intimate classes meant strong relationships could be built, and time was spent each session observing the children, which was invaluable.

“This allows us to see the babies as they actually are, not the way our culture sees them.”

Ms McGarry said if children were left uninterrupted during play time, their full engagement “grows their brain, their intelligence, and their love of learning”.

Kate Williams and her 10-month-old son Levon are participating in the weekly class.

The Featherston mother-of-two said through the course she had gained “a place of peace and connectedness” with her children.

“Every week I come away with so much food for thought and invaluable tools for use in my parenting journey.

“As we learn we discuss ideas and how it relates to our own journey and experience.

“The discussions start to reveal pure wisdom and are then followed up by very interesting and telling exercises that are eye opening, fun and engaging.”


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