Going by the evidence

Upcoming parenting seminar speaks to psychologist’s findings


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/05/2015 (2863 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As a parent of young children, you may find yourself overwhelmed with advice on how to best deal with early milestones.

What’s the best way to get your kid to fall asleep at night? What’s the most effective way to potty train? How do you get your kid to follow instructions? And, perhaps most frustrating, how to filter the good advice from the bad.

“I had those same problems with my first child,” said Kirsten Wirth, a psychologist and adjunct professor in the department of psychology at the University of Manitoba. 

“I went into all the journal articles, reviewed the literature,” said Wirth, who specializes in applied behaviour analysis. “I wondered what other parents were doing who didn’t have access to journals, or didn’t have time, or didn’t know how to interpret evidence.”

Seeing a demand for research-based parenting tips, Wirth wrote How to get your child to go to sleep and stay asleep: A practical guide for parents to sleep train young children. She also started a blog (theinvestigatingparent.wordpress.com), where she continues to post regularly.

Until recently, Wirth had worked with children, adolescents, and adults, both with and without developmental disabilities and autism, in an institutional setting for 14 years. But when she saw the way that evidence-based parenting tips were received by the community, Wirth decided to pursue private practice.

“I thought there must be parents out there who had experience with these issues who wanted to learn,” she said. “There was a huge interest.”

In short order, Wirth, who lives with her husband and two young children in East St. Paul, hooked up with Bronx Park Community Centre (720 Henderson Hwy.). On May 6, Wirth rolled out the first in a series of parenting seminars for parents whose children have recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

“There are a few that are autism-specific,” Wirth explained. “But there’s toilet training, how to get your child to go to sleep and stay asleep. I’m trying to hit a wide audience.”

Wirth’s next seminar at Bronx Park takes place Wed., June 10, and looks at “how to toilet train your child in less than a day.” Other seminars follow roughly every second week, and include subjects like “how to get your child to go to sleep and stay asleep,” “how to get your child to listen to you and follow instructions,” and “how to teach your child with autism.”

“One thing I think is important is often when you go to these kinds of info sessions, you get a lot of somebody’s opinion, especially when it comes to parenting,” Wirth added. “There’s a lot of different philosophies and opinions on parenting. But I base my decisions on what science tells us. All the info I’m sharing comes from an established evidence base. I’ll supplement it from my own life or practice, but the information comes from the research.”

Each seminar costs $25, plus GST, and registration is required a week in advance. Visit www.wirthbehaviouralhealth.com/events for more information, or to register.

Twitter: @heraldWPG

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com Call him at 204-697-7112

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