Resources For Family Educators
Ginott's Method of Parent Education
Printer Friendly (PDF)
Title: Ginott's Method of Parent Education
Summary of content or concept:
Haim Ginott developed a process for working with parents that helps parenting
educators model the behaviors they are encouraging parents to practice with
Practices or applications associated with the idea
Ginott (Orgel, 1980) suggested that there are four steps in the process of supporting parents:
In this first stage the parent(s) are encouraged to talk about their
challenging experiences as parents. This allows parents to discover that all
parents have problems. It also allows the parenting educator to model
attention, understanding, and acceptance. Many parents have never had some one
sensitively listen to them before. It is important for parents to feel heard
Such sensitive listening may not be easy for the parenting educator. The
educator must listen carefully, resist the temptation to correct or preach,
and be skillful in remaining supportive, and encouraging: "Wow. That must
have been very difficult." "You probably wondered what to do."
"Yes. Parenting can be very challenging!"
The objective at this stage of a discussion is not to teach new skills to
the parents but to allow them to talk about their challenges while feeling
valued and understood. This skill is especially important when parents have
many challenges or are forced to participate in a parenting education program.
When a parenting educator is supportive and encouraging, parents can embrace
their unique strengths and feel safe enough to explore strategies to address
Sometimes class members lack confidence in their parenting skills and worry
that they make many mistakes. The effective parenting educator recognizes,
values and encourages each parent's desire even as their skills are still
This second stage of parent education can begin when parents feel accepted,
valued, and safe---which may take 30 minutes, a whole session, or many weeks
or months. In the second stage the parenting educator turns the attention of
the parents to understanding their children's feelings. "How do you think
you daughter felt in that situation?" "Why might that have been
especially difficult for your son?"
The parenting educator may help the parents understand their children's
feelings by asking them how they might have felt in similar situations.
"How might you feel if you worked all day to get the house clean and your
husband (or a friend) only noticed a dirty window?" Parents may come to
better understand their children's feelings when they relate them to their own
Everyone has struggles and disappointments. One of the challenges of
parenting is to apply our own human struggles to understanding how our
children feel. While we will never completely understand how an experience
feels for our children, we can appreciate how real the pain (or joy or
Parenting is often made more difficult when parents react to their children's
behavior without taking time to understand. Under such circumstances the child
is likely to become angry and resistant. When the child feels understood, the
parent and child can work together more effectively.
3. Learning of concepts.
Parents can learn rules that will help them be more effective. For example
"Take time to understand what your child feels." is a rule that can
help parents listen. The parenting educator may have a series of rules to
suggest. He or she can involve the group by asking them to apply the rules to
situations in their homes. The parenting educator may even invite parents to
develop their own rules as they examine their dilemmas with their children.
Parents may learn through these discussions to analyze and improve their
parenting. They may better understand their children's behavior and how to
respond to it more effectively.
4. Teaching and practice of better skills.
In this final stage of Ginott's process, parents learn how to use their new
skills and get practice in applying the principles. They may get practice by
responding to situations presented by the parenting educator and other
parents. They may also get practice by developing ways to deal with situations
with their own children.
A wise parenting educator will not try to be the source of all answers but
will ask parents for their ideas. For every situation there are many ways of
responding. It is good for class members to hear many different ideas for
dealing with a specific problem. If parenting skills are thought of as tools
in a tool box, then it is important for parents to have many different tools
and to know how to use them well. Each of us has different tools and different
skills in using them. We may learn from each other.
It is also important for parents to learn how to evaluate their various
options. For any idea that is suggested, you might invite parents to consider
two critical questions: "Would that work for me and my child? Does it show
respect for both of us?"
The main objective of Ginott's four-step process in parenting is to provide
parents with the personal experience of a warm, caring environment in which
they can learn effective, respectful discipline strategies. Then they will be
prepared to go home and create a warm, caring environment in which their
children can learn more strong and humane ways of acting. In a way, the
parenting educator is a parent to the parents. In that role the parenting
educator can be a model of a good parent.
Sometimes there will be parents in a class who are very angry or hostile
(just as there will be children in a family who sometimes are very angry or
hostile). An angry parent provides a parenting educator a great opportunity to
model effective ways to deal with anger. "I can see that you feel very
strongly about this." "This must be very upsetting for you."
There are extreme cases when parents feel so angry or stressed that they
are not able to participate effectively with others in the classroom. These
parents may benefit from individual counseling. Rather than acting as an
individual therapist in this setting, parenting educators are encouraged to
provide appropriate referrals to trained professionals.
Availability (if a resource) or contact (if someone would need further
The ideas described here are also shared in:
Goddard, H. W. (1996). Parent educator training: A guide for instructors
(HE-711). Auburn, AL: Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
The full chapter about Ginott's method can be found in the first Handbook:
Orgel, A. R. (1980). Haim Ginott's approach to parent education. In M. J.
Fine (Ed.), Handbook on parent education (pp. 75-100). New York: Academic
For more information, contact H. Wallace Goddard, Family Life Specialist,
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (Phone: 501 671-2104;
Resources For Family Educators