Feedback from Parents after completing the P.E.T. course

As an educator in Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) for over two decades, I am privileged to connect with dedicated, amazing parents, grandparents, and carers. Please enjoy these reflections  that parents have generously shared regarding their family's experience of P.E.T. (including people who have taken the course 10, even 20, years previously!)

How A Parenting Course Helped Our Family. Stories from Parents Putting Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) into Practice is a blog that contains a number of stories and testimonials on the impact of the P.E.T. skills on families.

A Reflection on the Impact of the P.E.T. skills on a Family, Nine Years After Attending the Course

I would thoroughly recommend the Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) course. At the time that I did my course, I was pregnant with my youngest child and felt a little ill equipped to parent my four children. I had attended other parenting courses prior to this, but I was still searching for workable parenting strategies.

The Parent Effectiveness Training course helped me in more ways than I knew. At the time there was a lot of information made available, but over the years I have found myself recalling some of the techniques and using them to find positive outcomes.

Now when someone tells me what they want, I think of it as exactly that – It is what they want, not what they need. In that way it doesn’t seem to cause me as much stress, and I am quickly able to resolve any problems or conflict. I know that I have the strategies taught in the PET class to help me. (Editor's note: P.E.T. helps parents differentiate between 'wants' and 'needs', noting that 'wants' are often a solution to an underlying need)

The technique of active listening was also taught in the session. At the time I recall several of the men in the class coming to the realisation that they had never fully listened to the women they had been married to for over twenty years. That was something significant to witness.

Now life is busier, and my children are older. I am working with them to teach them the basics of how to communicate respectfully. I can see changes taking shape in their own lives, as they now show more consideration to the needs of others. Its fantastic to see how one course has had such a positive impact in all our lives.

Gail Holland, mother of four (August 2019)

A Grandparent's Reflection on the Life Skills of a Parenting Course, 11 Years after PET.

I did the parenting skills course with Larissa Dann in 2007, starting on the day my second granddaughter was born. I have found it an invaluable asset ever since.

I felt both empowered and liberated by the course: empowered especially by learning how to use active listening skills when dealing with difficult family and social situations, and liberated in learning to step back when discovering which are not my problems and therefore not my responsibility. Also I found the active listening skills especially valuable when dealing with my young grandson who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.

I have used these and other skills in all areas of my life and find that generally when I am in a problematic situation it is because I have gone back "on automatic", rather than using the approaches learned in the parenting course.

Thankyou Larissa for showing us a more democratic and respectful way of dealing with children and others rather than the authoritarian way people of my generation were generally raised.

Robin Tobler

Long Term Effects of P.E.T. 'My Family Is A Happier Place'.

During the course [six months ago] I noticed a positive change in my children’s responses when I used the skills. However, the real change has happened steadily over time. My middle child, who was causing me extreme difficulty last year, is a different, delightful child. She is more capable of expressing her feelings and explaining her issues to us all, and I am able to respond in a manner that better suits her needs.

Our household is a different environment to what it was six months ago. It has been very interesting to see the long term effect of the PET skills techniques and the growth of our family as a whole.

Thank you again for sharing these wonderful skills with me. My family is a happier place as a result.

Mother of three, aged 6,4 and 2.

'I'm Finally Enjoying Parenting Again' - a Mother of Two Children, Each With Special Needs

"I really wasn’t sure what to expect from PET. In all honesty, I was finding being a parent incredibly hard work, and I spent most of my day frazzled, frustrated and shouting. Friends had shared some amazing results from PET with me, but having two young children (aged 4 and 5) with autism and ADHD I wasn’t convinced it was for us. Our children are impulsive, often run away, and are physical, and I didn’t think they had the emotional capacity to respond to the gentle way of parenting in a way that I could still maintain their safety (and the safety of others). Something had to change, though, and so we enrolled in Larissa's course thinking that even a slight improvement was better than no change at all.

The course used simple effective strategies to make incremental change. The biggest change of all, though, was in me. Through reflecting on my own life, experiences, and behaviour, I faced some hard truths. I tried the strategies Larissa suggested - I felt awkward at first, but slowly it felt more natural. Gradually there were more and more pockets of time where there was ‘no problem’, and this allowed me to pause and connect with the kids. In response, the kids wanted to connect, and they started talking about their feelings. They started telling me what they liked and didn’t like, they started thinking of other people, and they showed me that they were enjoying the ‘no problem’ time just as much as I was.

From a house that was once pure chaos, we’ve gradually progressed to a home where we all WANT to spend time together. We have two children who are (and always have been) amazing. We’ve rebuilt trust, and with that has come respect and open communication. The kids share, they get up to mischief, they laugh, they connect, and they express themselves. I still have those days where I’m frustrated and frazzled, but "shouty mum” has all-but disappeared and I’m finally enjoying parenting again.

I’m not sure I can find the right words to show my gratitude for the changes that have come, but PET has most certainly changed our lives for the better. I can see my kids for the amazing little individuals they are, and life has changed very much for the better!"

Mother of two, aged 4 and 5

The Many Ways PET, And No Punishment Or Rewards, Affects Our Everyday Life.

"PET effects my life daily and sometimes in the most unexpected ways.  An example of this is when I see my two boys using it on each other.

I have witnessed it when they have started to argue with  each other one of them will use active listening or change gears.

Interestingly, they also use the skills with us and my youngest particularly pulls me up when I am not being very "PET" like.

Having a household where there is no punishment means that our children are very comfortable is sharing different issues and problems that they are experiencing at school with us, as they know that there is no judgement.  This is even if they have made a poor decision. Instead it is treated as a learning opportunity where we discuss how they could handle the situation better next time.

My children will always tell me when they have "gotten in trouble" at school.  PET has given our the relationship between ourselves and our children the most beautiful honesty.

My 13 yr old just said to me yesterday that he can proudly say that he has never lied to me in his life because he knows that he can talk to me about anything.

I also use many of the skills from PET when working with children in the support work that I do.  I often use the active listening skills with them and also changing gears.  I find when I use my PET skills the child that I am working with immediately senses that I see them as my equal. They see that I do not have that authoritarian attitude that many adults they encounter do.  Therefore, a sense of trust between the child and I is very quickly established. "

Patricia, Mother of two boys, aged 13 and 15

Learning to survive and thrive through P.E.T. skills - 20 years later.

"We attended our first PET course in 1997 when our two boys were 3 and 6 years old.  We had heard about it through our local Montessori  school and thought we needed to learn about 'peaceful parenting!'

With much insistence my husband also committed to coming along and this proved invaluable as we were able to go through this experience together and  essentially be on the same page to avoid the good cop/ bad cop scenario.  Twenty years later we continue to naturally present a stable, united, supportive and agreeable front for our children (now young adults) to bounce life's ideas off.

Our course was led by the delightful, amazingly calm and insightful Larissa Dann.  We took home weekly learned strategies to try out in many different scenarios with our children and were completely amazed at the results, not only our own relationships with the boys but between ourselves at a time when we behaved as stressed, edgy and floundering parents.

These have been life long and life affirming skills learnt.  Meaningful, loving relationships between us all that have not only helped mould resilient children but resilient parents too.

Our boys (now aged 22 and 25 years) still joke about how Mum and Dad had to learn how to become parents - and we did!

Only through PET at a critical time in our  family life did we learn to survive and then thrive and really enjoy our children.

Thank heavens - and thank Larissa Dann! An amazing facilitator to kick start our journey."

Andrea and Ben Balthazaar

Never Too Late to take a P.E.T. course - From a Parent of a Teenage

"Almost on a daily basis am I SO GRATEFUL to have done the PET course. I can talk to my teenager about everything, where I see so many of his friends struggling with their relationships with their parents. It's never too late to do the course!"

K. Mills

"Thank you for saving our relationship".

 I recently rediscovered this feedback from a Mum who completed the course around 8 years prior to her husband attending (he, too, finished the course some years ago). This is what she had to say at the time he finished his course. (I was very moved).

“I just wanted to say thanks for the P.E.T course once again.

[When my husband attended the course], he really enjoyed the time for self-reflection and hearing other people’s stories. It helped enormously when he let go his feeling that he has to solve all the problems. He said there was always something that bugged him about his parenting, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Recognising that he has needs has also helped, as has letting himself be authentic and real. Now that he has realised he has his own needs and that it is OK to meet them, he says “no” to things, or drops the children off [eg at sporting events] without feeling guilty if he doesn’t stay to watch.

He's much calmer about things now and it's created space for us to talk, which hasn't been there for many years. About half way through the course he was attending, I got really upset and went outside to let off steam. Usually, he would also get angry and stomp off out of the house. This time, he came over, put his arms around me and said, "It's OK to get angry. You need to let it out." and then just held me until I stopped crying.

This was the first time in 21 years that he has been there for me emotionally. Huge, huge step! When I said this to him he said that was good and bad. "Bad because I haven't been there for so long; good because you it shows I can change." Cue tissues!

The course has literally saved our relationship as I was at my wits end as to where to go next. It's baby steps, but the fact that I feel we are both attempting to listen to each other and support each other emotionally after 21 years is a huge thing.”

Using the skills we learned in P.E.T. daily - after four years.

"My husband and I did your course four years ago. I just wanted to say how grateful we are to you for teaching us PET skills. We still use them daily with our three kids and it makes all the difference. Our household is loud, there are disagreements and sometimes heated exchanges, but it is joyful and full of love and we listen to each other and work through our issues. Thank you for sharing what are probably some of the most important skills of life."

(mother of three, aged 10, 8 and 2), January, 2020

Impact of P.E.T. skills on work and parenting relationship, 10 years after completing the course

"Larissa's PET courses have not only empowered me to have wonderfully loving, respectful and rich relationships with my children, but also improved my ability to listen and problem solve in all my personal and professional relationships.

Our family has been actively using the skills we learnt for 10 years now, and we are incredibly grateful that we have such communication knowledge to draw on and refer back to, especially when life gets challenging as it often does.

I highly recommend Larissa's PET courses given she has immense knowledge, skill and a great down to earth approach when helping parents to communicate more effectively."

Mother of two, February, 2020

Testimonial For A School Newsletter.

Robyn shared her experience with other parents at her school (via email). She wrote:

"I did the Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) course six years ago when I had a three year old and a one year old. I was looking for an alternative way of connecting and parenting my boys without having to resort to yelling, getting frustrated and yes, "losing it" with them. An out-of-control grown up is a scary sight for small children!

Larissa Dann has been teaching this course for many years (I think her eldest child is now at University) and I highly recommend this course. It taught me to stop, breathe and work out who's problem it was (was it a problem for me or was it the child's problem), how to express my feelings on the problem and how to come up with a win-win solution with the kids.

It also taught me a great deal about Active Listening, clarifying communication and generally made me see things in a whole new light. The course runs over eight weeks and I saw a huge improvement with my relationship with my children, even at that young age. I still use the skills now. It's not a quick fix and you do have to work at it but the proof is most definitely in the relationship you build with your children (and by default, any adults around you - I often use the skills on my work colleagues!)


Workplace Testimonial:
"I approached Larissa to host a parenting skills lunch and learn session with my staff members as a part of our offices wellness program. Larissa supplied an excellent cross section of parenting skills including active listening and hot tips for happy parenting. The session was very well received by the staff who all learned something new to take away with them.
I liked that Larissa was well prepared and tailored the session to our particular needs. The session was interactive, interesting and a valuable learning tool.
I would recommend Larissa to any business looking to host a lunch and learn session for their staff members. She provided me with a fantastic service that I would definitely use again in the future."
K. Davis, DAON.
Private Face-to-Face Parent Education Testimonial

My relationship with my two boys (age 8 and 10) had fundamentally changed for the better as the result of attending the PET course. Even though the course is of a short duration (approximately 8 modules over two months), we now have open communication.  I have significantly reduced control through power, and I avoid values based judgement. Instead, I now Actively Listen to their concerns, and use I-Messages to talk about my needs.  My two boys understand the impact of their behaviour on others, and are making their own decisions based on their own ability to process that information.  They genuinely appreciate this outcome.
Ben Cook, father of two boys, aged 8 and 10.

Below is a selection of comments from parents, written in their anonymous feedback form at the end of their course.

General comments:

  • "I do lots less yelling, lose my temper less often.  I am more patient and understanding of my children’s needs.  I give them more of my time and attention and I think I listen better when they communicate with me.  I’m much better at communicating my needs and expectations clearly but less inclined to do so frequently.  I have all but given up reliance on rewards, bribes, threats and punishments including time out.  It just hasn’t been necessary for about the last month."
  • "One of the best things I have ever done!  Taught me so much about human relationships and how to live a more peaceful, democratic and understanding life" (father of two)
  • "I feel joyful at having discovered a new way of communicating with my kids and my husband. Its been confronting, illuminating, educational, thought provoking, cathartic and challenging, but all in a good way.  I can already see positive changes in my relationships with my children and I look forward to continuing improvements."
  • "P.E.T. has been transformative both in my relationships with my children, and change in their behaviour and mine.  I knew what we were doing as parents wasn’t working and I was despairing about the potential to “lose” my daughter as she headed into her teens.  This course has given me the tools to repair my relationships, to see and accept my children as independent people, and most importantly, to have hope for the future."
  • "P.E.T. champions the rights of children, gives them a voice.  This course and its foundations represent a significant social contribution."
  • “Most beneficial. I was hoping to get some sort of framework for my parenting methods, and I got more than that – I got an entire relationship philosophy. Brilliant!”
  • “Grateful for such valid information, presented so clearly. It has dramatically changed my home environment and relationship quality with others.”
  • “Just excellent. Everyone should do this! Great value.”
  • “Our house is a calmer place to be. We still have problems, but we are left knowing that they can be solved, at least to some degree, if not completely.”
  • “Thank you! This is a new (well to me) style of parenting I think all parents need to learn!”
  • “PET has made some amazing improvements to the relationship I share with my own children. It has given me the ability to better see/consider my children as individual people (not just children) and value and better respect their thoughts and feelings. We have experienced greater closeness and a much calmer family environment.”
  • “I can’t believe I made 8 weeks. I found myself looking forward to coming on a Monday night to see which tool I would get for my PET tool bag. The group was fantastic!”
  • “The course has given me a different perspective on my parenting. I have actively employed methods taught and reduced frustrations and yelling. The end result is a calmer me and hopefully continued use of the skills.”
  • “Great, recommend for all parents, a real mind shift for me and my wife. Optimistic.”
  • “Up until recently parenthood has been a lonely scary and mysterious experience. This course has changed all that because I got such a feeling of support, empathy and encouragement; learned many useful skills that I feel positive about. I’m feeling hopeful and empowered and more accepting of myself.”
  • “I have really developed life skills during PET. Now I am less likely to lose my temper, argue with my child and I have a greater capacity to reflect on my reactions and my body language and what communication skills I am using when I am interacting with my daughter (and partner!)”
  • “Very practical framework, based on a truly respect-filled view of children as people with legitimate needs. Please publicise PET more – the world needs it!”
  • “Thank you. Before I did the course I thought it seemed massively long. Now I wish it was longer.”
  • “Have and will recommend it to others. Life changing. Great value. Great Trainer. Great group. Trainer handled tricky personalities very professionally and honestly and respectfully. The course has restored my hope for the future.”

Effects on family:

  • “Children more confident and happy; have a better relationship with each other; more vocal in general and especially about their feelings”
  • “(children) Less yelling, more consideration of others.”
  • “Calmer. More co-operative. More involved in sorting out problems. My 5 yo is certainly more willing to help.”
  • "More relaxed.  Less conflict. More examples of considerate behaviour." (father of two).

Larissa as a facilitator:

  • “Larissa was thoughtful and provided a mix of approaches which were great/funny/interesting, and encouraged participation well. Great personal insights and examples.”
  • "Thank you, Larissa.  You’re an amazing teacher. I think that’s been part of the power of the whole course – I don’t think just anyone could have delivered these same messages.  You’ve got brilliant skills in imparting your wisdom."
  • "I thought the sessions were paced really well and had a good mix of listening and doing.  I found the role plays particularly powerful."
  • "Larissa you are absolutely fantastic! You beat all of the psychologists and counsellors we've seen through the years"
  • "Wonderful teacher.  Imparts skills in a highly respectful and empowering way."
  • "Larissa is an amazing teacher - open, honest, patient, friendly and supportive."
  • "Thank you for personal experience.  It made it more real."
  • "Role-plays . . . were very helpful in demonstrating and practicing the methods.  Larissa was great at adopting a character."
  • “Very much appreciated the examples from your own life and parenting, know that we’re all human, all trying.”
  • “Thanks Larissa. You have really had such a positive influence on me and my children. This has been a very positive turning point for us.”
  • “Terrific. Good listener and teacher. A great ability to transfer skills.”
  • “Great teacher, so thorough and respectful, lots of strategies used.”
  • "Larissa was very open and made the environment a safe learning space"

Updated May, 2020

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