Positive Parenting Styles


It’s sobering to consider that the world’s future rests on parents.

Raising healthy, happy and productive children is a grave responsibility and can try even the most patient of parents. But the potential consequences of parents failing at this role are even more dire. Such consequences range from millions in mental health costs to repair the damage from childhood abuse and neglect, to the untold suffering and damage from criminal acts perpetrated by the poorly parented, to actual loss of life through stress-related diseases, reckless behavior or suicide.

While all of these consequences are horrific, perhaps most egregious of all is the inter-generational transmission of poor parenting. Without proper role models, most people simply repeat the mistakes of their parents to one degree or another or make equally poor parenting choices due to lack of skills. We believe it’s time to stop this cycle by introducing parents to solid mental fitness skills that improves their functioning and gives blessed relief to the next generation and beyond.

Family & Parenting Course Components

Our Family & Parenting Classes are designed to teach parents solid parenting skills and reinforce positive parenting styles that improve parent-child relationships and good outcomes for children. Classes can be purchased as content-only (Solo Class) or with added support (Class Plus option). Class Plus format offers the following benefits:

A variety of 4-week classes.
Downloadable learning aids for classes.
Support forums for questions and peer support.
Small-group instructional coaching to keep learning on track (3 coach-led, 1 peer-led)
One private, 30-minute coaching session per month for individualized work.
Weekly open office hours for course questions.
Weekly mental fitness tips via mFIT blogs
Monthly mPACT with mFIT Guides.

For those who want maximum support, we also offer one membership option (Fast Track).

NOTE: All classes are 4 weeks as they are designed to be completed during a 30-day period. There may be multiple class units on the same topic (e.g., Self-Esteem 101; Self-Esteem 102, etc.), which means classes must be taken in order as higher level courses build upon the previous ones.

Other Courses


Emotions & Coping  

Relationship Savvy  

Work & Productivity  

Mental Health Matters  

General & Miscellaneous  

Membership Option

Fast Track Membership  

Level I Class Offerings

Browse and select classes below (or view class list). Level II & III Classes follow below.
family, parenting, expectations, mental fitness institutefamily, parenting, expectations, mental fitness institute

Realistic Expectations

Making It Age-Appropriate

For many parents, it is hard to keep expectations in check. This is in part because most parents want nothing but the best for their children, but unrealistic expectations often occur because we’ve simply forgotten what it’s like to be a child. From an adult perspective, it can be hard to recall the limitations of each developmental period. This class helps parents to develop age-appropriate expectations that honor their child’s specific developmental pace and avoid demanding far too much too soon.  [View CLASS LIST]

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Helicopter Parenting

How to Stop Hovering

As parents, we are often driven to provide for our children all the things that we missed in our own childhood. This desire comes from love and the emotional need to rectify some elements of unresolved childhood pain. From a motivational standpoint, the desire is to prevent our children from suffering the same fate. However, this fearful anxiety drives many parents to become helicopter parents, hovering too close for comfort and ideal development. The class explores the origins and solutions to helicopter parenting. [View CLASS LIST]

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Parenting in Style

Assessing Your Parenting Style

This class reviews the four basic parenting styles and the pros and cons of each: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and neglectful. As parents, we have the responsibility of honestly assessing our parenting style and the reasons we tend to parent in a particular way. This honest assessment can identify our own emotional deficits so that we can address them and then adapt our parenting style to one that is more ideal for our children. Parents are imperfect humans, too! By embracing our faults, we can learn to overcome them. [View CLASS LIST]

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OMG. I’ve Suddenly Become My Parents!

Recognizing Generational Patterns

I don’t think there is a parent alive who at one point didn’t have the eye-opening experience of suddenly realizing they are behaving just like their own parents! It often happens when you hear what just came out of your mouth that sounded just like your mother or father. This realization can either be comforting or horrifying, depending on the quality of parenting you received. This class explores the inter-generational transmission of parenting beliefs and styles and how to overcome them. [View CLASS LIST]

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Parents, Raise Your Own Children!

Children are not Ready to be Parents

There is a definite line between teaching children responsibility and love for siblings and putting them in the position of parenting. If the task of parenting is so difficult that parents feel the need to enlist the help of others, how overwhelming might parenting be for a child? Children are not ready to be parents and nor should they be. This is too big a burden and too dangerous a position for all involved. Learn how to include older children in a healthy way without putting them at risk. [View CLASS LIST]

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The Over-Busy Lifestyle

Why It’s Time to Slow It All Down

The “keeping up with the Jones” syndrome is never more prevalent than in child-rearing. As parents, we don’t want our children to feel left out or less than any of their peers. But this can be taken to an extreme when we run ourselves – and our children – ragged with too many activities. This stressful lifestyle sets children up to have poor self-care habits in the future. Learn how to balance your needs and your child’s schedule to provide much needed down time for all. [View CLASS LIST]

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Discipline Matters I

Avoiding Threats, Giving Choices

One of the biggest mistakes that parents make is the use of empty threats: “If you do that again, I’ll…” and of course, the threatened consequence never materializes. The result is that children quickly learn to completely disregard their parents’ directives, which leads to parents escalating the threats. Given that one of the cornerstones of parenting is consistency, this ineffective tactic undermines parenting. Learn how to say what you mean, give clear behavior choices and follow-through effectively. [View CLASS LIST]

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Discipline Matters II

Why Never to Discipline Angry

There are many reasons why parents become angry. Chief among them is that parenting is an exhausting and often thankless task because we are shaping immature minds that have limited thinking ability and are often too high on demands and too short on gratitude. However, parents are also angry for a whole host of internal and external reasons. This class explores the origins of anger in relation to the parent role and helps parents self-design more effective means of coping.[View CLASS LIST]

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Discipline Matters III

When Discipline is Too Personal

Consistent and compassionate discipline is a crucial part of effective parenting. It teaches children that there ARE consequences to the choices they make. Further, it shapes their future choices by providing negative consequences to undesirable behavior. Where some parents go awry, however, is when discipline becomes too personal by equating the “failure” (e.g., their misbehavior) to character flaws rather than a lack of skills or understanding. Learn how to keep discipline focused on improving skills. [View CLASS LIST]

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Discipline Matters IV

The Power of Natural Consequences

As part of Collaborative Coaching in parenting, we highly advocate the use of natural consequences in discipline. Using natural consequences means that parents do not “rescue” their child from the natural fallout that occurs from their choices. For example, if the child steals something, they must own up to it, make amends and suffer the consequences of their actions. This reduces the focus on parents as a source of pain and onto the child’s own actions, promoting greater responsibility and accountability. Learn the basics of this technique. [View CLASS LIST]

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Rewarding Process-Oriented Learning

Avoiding a Focus on Grades

The focus on “making the grade” starts early as children are positioned by parents to claim top spots in exclusive pre-schools, highly desired preparatory schools and top universities. While this system in unlikely to change, critical thinking processes may well be undermined when only the end result (i.e., grades) is valued. Ingenuity, creativity and success in the face of failure stems from embracing the entire learning process, not just the end result. Learn more about this concept. [View CLASS LIST]

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The Truth Be Told

Honesty in Parenting

One of the biggest complaints you hear from children about their parents is that they view them as hypocrites. Teens in particular are keen to discrepancies in what parents say and what they do and these inconsistencies fuel parent-child conflict. One way to neutralize this problem is to adopt a practice of honest parenting. This means being willing to own up to your own faults and failures (and encourage the same in your children), treating yourself and your children with compassion for common human errors and weaknesses.  [View CLASS LIST]

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The Power of an Apology

Humility as a Masterful Teacher

How we ever came to expect perfection in ourselves as parents is a mystery. We”ought” to get it right with our children, I suppose, but the reality is that parents don’t stop being prone to human error just because we’re parents. And if we can’t expect perfection in ourselves, how much less should we expect it in our children who have less resources and less capacity than we do? This means that apologizing for shortcomings is a necessary and natural part of life that teaches us all humility and forgiveness. [View CLASS LIST]

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Model What You Want

Parents are Powerful Role Models

It is ironic when we as parents demand that our children tell the truth, for example, when they know parents lie all the time. If we want to teach our children integrity and honesty, we must practice this ourselves. If we want our children to be courteous, then why are we rude to our children? If we want them to stand up against peer pressure and say “no,” then why do we demand only “yes” with unquestioning obedience? If we want them to be charitable, do they see us giving? This class helps parents consider what they want from their children and how to honestly model it. [View CLASS LIST]

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Parental Self-Care

Taking Time to Recharge

As caring parents, we can border on martyrdom in how we approach our own self-care. We become so focused on caring for and providing for our children that we forget the most important thing we can give to our children is healthy parents! Especially with young parents, when money is tight and you are still young in your careers, it may seem hard to justify alone time just for you, but it is crucial! This class explores the false beliefs that underly lack of self-care and helps parents consider their own needs as equally as important to those of their children.[View CLASS LIST]

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The Power of Choice for Children

Building Blocks of Self-Esteem

It is way too easy to over-direct our children. After all, we might not like their choices! But as a building block for strong self-esteem, letting them make choices is invaluable. Let your child make as many choices in daily life as possible. It can be small things like choices of what to wear, to eat or when to do certain activities (not if, just when). When activities are required, find some way to give them a choice over some aspect of it. This class helps parents get comfortable with the idea and process of giving children the power of choice. [View CLASS LIST]

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Good-Enough Parenting

Mini-Failures Promote Growth

While studying for my PhD in Child Development at the Institute of Child Development, I learned a concept that I’ve never forgotten: good enough parenting. The idea behind it is that in the absence of serious parenting errors (e.g., abuse, neglect), parenting works well at the good-enough level. In fact, there are negative outcomes associated with the attempt to be a perfect parent and to provide everything for your child. Learn how our mini (small) failures actually promote growth while over-parenting hinders it. We just have to be good enough! [View CLASS LIST]

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How to Avoid Vicarious Living

Parents: Get a Life!

In the early stages of parenting, it is hard not to be consumed with our child’s needs, as we must keep a very close eye on them. However, as they enter school, it is important for us to balance our personal needs with the needs of our children and to avoid the temptation of defining ourselves by our child’s accomplishments. Vicarious living puts too much pressure on the child to help us feel fulfilled. We must have our own goals to fulfill. This class helps parents find balance between being a parent and being a person! [View CLASS LIST]

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Modeling Good Boundaries

Where You End and Your Child Begins

As parents of young children, it is practically inevitable that we feel totally in touch with our child and his/her needs. For example, as good parents we need for them to be healthy, so their need becomes our need and we do everything we can to make this happen. But over time, it is crucial that we are able to know where they end and we begin. Our needs, desires and wants don’t have total overlap. Teaching our children to recognize the needs of others, including their parents, is crucial for developing good social awareness. [View CLASS LIST]

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Watching Your Tone

Is Your Contempt Showing?

Life is complicated. Many of us didn’t come from great backgrounds ourselves, so we enter the parent-child relationship with a ton of baggage in tow. And we all know that children can be very, very trying with an uncanny knack of doing the exact wrong thing at the exact right moment to set us off. But children will be children and they are not responsible for our baggage or our reactions to them. We are. This class specifically focuses on helping parents deal with their own baggage, understand their triggers and responding to their children without contempt. [View CLASS LIST]

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Emotional Regulation for Parents

Taking Control of Your Emotions

Before we can be fully engaged, healthy and compassionate parents, we must be fully engaged, compassionate and healthy people. This means we have the responsibility to deal with the trauma, disappointments, unrequited love, grief and loss and squandered opportunities that we are still carrying. Otherwise, we are never fully present with ourselves or our children and our responses can be more about past issues than present ones. This class focuses on helping parents develop emotional regulation skills needed for emotionally balanced parenting. [View CLASS LIST]

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Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Common Parenting Mistakes

Now that my children are all in their 30’s, my perspective looking back on their childhood is much different than the one I had while they were young. In talking with parents of adult children, many have the same experience and it is not uncommon to hear them say, “If I only knew then what I know now…boy, would I do things differently.” And I couldn’t agree more! It is painful to see your mistakes play out in the lives of your children. This class focuses on common parenting mistakes in the hopes of giving newer parents a heads up! [View CLASS LIST]

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parenting, abuse, harsh parenting, mental fitness instituteparenting, abuse, harsh parenting, mental fitness institute

Distinguishing Harsh Parenting from Abuse

Stepping Back from Harsh Parenting

While some actions taken by parents are clearly abusive (physical injuries, terrorizing, leaving young children alone, not providing for basic needs, etc.), there are a host of parental behaviors that are not considered by the parent to be abusive in the moment, but produce such negative outcomes as to have the same impact as abuse. Because most parents do care and don’t set out to be abusive, this class offers insight and self-discovery for parents to ensure they are drawing a clear line and stepping back from harsh parenting. [View CLASS LIST]

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Giving Your Child a Strong Voice

Why Your Child’s Opinion Matters

Parents are busy people and taking the time to ask and listen to your child on various matters can be time consuming for sure. But we have to decide what is important to us as parents. Parenting is as much about understanding the long view as it is about responding appropriately in the moment. Routinely giving your child a voice builds in them a strong sense of self, communicates that they are equally as important as others and prepares them to be much more self-directed. Learn more about this invaluable parenting skill. [View CLASS LIST]

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Building Blocks of Self-Esteem

Helping Your Child Build a Strong Self

As you may well remember, there is never a shortage of experiences out there that will tear children down such as peer rejection, academic failure, death of a loved one, random violence or catastrophe or experiencing some form of abuse. Given all the potential dangers, it is important to balance this out by making sure we parent in a way that routinely helps to build our child’s positive sense of self. These strategies are small, simple steps but when used consistently over time amount to a big result. [View CLASS LIST]

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On the Importance of Embracing Play

Scheduling Family Play Time

One of the biggest downsides to becoming an adult is the abandonment of play. In reality, play is needed at all ages for its bonding nature, relief of stress, release of endorphins and as a distraction from everyday stressors. Seriously, don’t we have plenty of time to be oh soooooo adult-like? Family play time is one way to keep the “kick” in your step, engage with your children and laugh a little. Learn more about the science of play and why it is such a beneficial activity for “kids” of all ages. [View CLASS LIST]

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Collaborative Parenting

Parenting Through Collaboration

We developed Collaborative Coaching for Parents to help parents who are struggling with their parenting role and/or with their child’s behavior. Most parents are already fully invested in their child’s welfare, but may simply lack skills to accomplish an ideal outcome. This class focuses on how to coach your child collaboratively toward mutually acceptable, desired outcomes using good planning and preparation, strategic choice points and the power of natural consequences. [View CLASS LIST]

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Mental fitness skills allow you to be your best self…

“I used to always be so worried about upsetting people. I never wanted anyone to be mad at me because it made me feel so horrible, like I’d let them down. After taking classes at the Mental Fitness Institute, I realized that I just needed to be me. Nobody else. And those who loved me for me…well, that’s who I’d want in my life anyway.  I’m just saying that if I can make that kind of change, anybody can.”


Becca@Chapel Hill, NC