The Parent Project: Help for parents with difficult children


The United States Department of Justice reports more than 1,500 kids between 10 and 17 were arrested in South Carolina in 2017. Earlier this month in Aiken County, two teens were charged in the shooting death of an adult.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety offers a course to help parents. Youth Services Division Captain Maryann Burgess says she gets calls from parents who ask for help with a child who is constantly in trouble. Captain Burgess says the number one thing she recommends is the Parent Project.

“One of the very first things out of my mouth all the time is ‘hey, we have this great program called the Parent Project,” Captain Burgess says.

Captain Burgess acknowledges the course can be a tough sell because parents take offense to the suggestion they need a parenting class.

“Here is a tool for you to become a better parent. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent! It just means you need to keep up with your training and education just like a teacher, a police officer or a doctor,” Captain Burgess explains.

Captain Burgess took the 10 week course and says it changed the way she parented. So did instructor Richard Nichols who is also a local pastor.

Nichols gives an example of a woman from his class who is raising a defiant 8 year.

“She said, ‘he doesn’t do anything right.’ I said ‘does he flush the commode?’ and she said, ‘well yes he does and he puts the seat down.’ I said, ‘great! go home next week,’ because I give them homework, I said ‘praise him for doing that.’ She said– ‘I ain’t doing that. That’s stupid.’ I said, ‘you’re in my class. Play along with me just for a week and let’s see what happens.’ The next week she comes in and she starts bawling in my class. She said it was like somebody threw a light switch on and she said all week long he’s been trying to do everything he can to hear– ‘you’ve done good.'”

Nichols points out that the principals of the class are simple, not rocket science. However, like the above example, the Parent Project course is full of practical actions that can change your child’s behavior and improve your relationship.

He describes another helpful action you should do with older children.

“When your child comes home, you need to be up and when they come in the door, you stand up, you hug them,” Nichols instructs. “What you’re doing– you’re checking their motor skills. You’re smelling them– do they smell like there’s something been going on. You’re looking in their eyes and you say the three most important words you can say to your child everyday– ‘I love you.'”

Nichols has a national certification to teach the parent project and he has taught the class for 8 years. He believes in the program so much, he says all you have to do is ask and he will come teach it wherever. It is typically a 10 week course, but he can boil it down to a weekend for your school, church, community center, wherever.

You can email Richard Nichols at NICHOLSRICHARD@BELLSOUTH.NET.

The Parent Project class meets every Thursday in Aiken. The course starts over from the beginning in 6 weeks.

Nichols shares much more advice, practical actions parents can take to help their children. Some of them are life saving. Watch the full conversation below:

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