VILSECK, Germany -- Learning better parenting skills isn't something many people associate with saving time, but the methods and techniques taught at the Bavaria Parent University Workshop here Aug. 14 -16 are not only saving parents time, it is enhancing the quality time spent with their children.

"We are all in this together trying to figure out how to be better as parents in this community," said Dr. Alan Scheuermann, clinical physiologist and assistant director of the school based behavior health program for Medical Department Activity Bavaria.

Alan was one of a few presenters at the parent workshop at Netzaberg Middle School and Vilseck High School Aug. 14-16. Participants learn how to better bond with their children and help their children reach their full potential by learning methods to boost child development.

"I have tried a few of the techniques and they seem to work well," said Spc. Jason Carpenter, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. "It helped getting my son ready for bed."

Carpenter learned that giving his son choices allows his son to develop decisions-making skills and make wise choices. Carpenter asked his son whether he wants to put on his pajamas now or in five minutes.

"He chose to do it in five minutes and he did it with no complaining," he said.

Giving choices minimizes the amount of time it takes to get a child to do something and helps children be more compliant, Carpenter said.

"It gives more time to bond with the child or more time where the child can actually focus on school work," Carpenter said. "That is an extra 10 minutes a child can spend on their homework instead of whining about doing his homework."

The workshop addressed the whole spectrum of child development stages that ranged from infants to high school students, said Judy Kamara, who works for the New Parent Support Group, which is part of Army Community Service.
"We are giving them the tools that they need to help them be successful," Kamara said. "It is key to provide stimulating environments and supportive and nurturing parenting skills. It is important to start building your child's emotional intelligence and try to help them learn how to manage their emotions."

Emotional intelligence is the way humans learn how to use and control their emotions, she said.

"A kid that is in the process of having temper tantrums is having difficulty with their emotional intelligence, so they are not really knowing what to do with the emotions that they have," Kamara said. "The parents' job is to teach the child to use their words (and) to express their emotions in a productive and meaningful way."

The goal for the workshop was to give parents tools that allow them to support their child in the education and development process, Kamara said.

"The workshop comes from our mission as a school based behavioral health program, which is to not just provide clinical services to kids in schools, but to do collaborations among a variety of agencies, to provide prevention services so we can get out ahead of problems before they develop," Scheuermann said. "This parent university was an attempt to reach parents with multiple agencies collaborating to present a lot of information…, so that parents can have better tools at their disposal to address parenting their kids in a better way."

Carpenter said he was not interested in the information about children up to the age of four, which is the ages were children experience the most rapid brain growth.

"The brain development didn't interest me," Carpenter said, who was focused more on topics related to his son. "I learned a lot about how to deal with difficult teenagers; I have a 7-year-old son, so it is getting ahead and preparing for those difficult moments."

Personnel from the Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Service, BMEDDAC's school based Behavioral Health, and ACS's New Parent Support Group gave presentations to parents.

"I thought it was a great collaborative effort of bringing agencies together," Kamara said.

Department of Defense Dependents Schools provided support with the facilities. Grafenwoehr and Vilseck's community and spouses club provided funding for free childcare to the parents who attended the workshop and the commissary provided refreshments for the workshop.