Parenting can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, no matter how prepared or experienced a parent may be. There are times when parents may feel helpless and unable to cope with the challenges they face. This is where family education counselor Su Shu steps in to offer support and advice to parents who are struggling with various parenting issues. Su is often approached with questions such as, “What should I do about my child’s addiction to mobile phone games?” or “How can I get my son to attend school when he refuses to go?”
Su, who is now 50 years old, has been working in family education since 2016. As part of his role, he has been responsible for building a team of family counselors. In July 2019, Su joined the family counseling service center in Beijing’s Shunyi district and took part in the district’s “family-school-society” coeducation counseling room project the following year. According to Su, “Our work is to help parents solve their own problems while also improving ourselves.”
In October 2019, Beijing launched a pilot program to integrate resources from schools, families, and society to establish counseling rooms that could assist parents and children in resolving family education problems. This pilot program was initiated in several districts, including Dongcheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai, Fangshan, Tongzhou, Changping, and Daxing. In each district, at least one middle school, one primary school, one kindergarten, and one community were selected to establish consultation rooms.
The consultation rooms were established with the goal of providing support to families facing a variety of challenges, such as difficulties with discipline, communication, and academic performance. Parents could seek advice from counselors like Su and learn strategies to improve their parenting skills. The consultation rooms also served as a bridge between schools and families, facilitating communication and cooperation to address issues affecting students’ academic and personal growth.
By integrating resources from schools, families, and society, the consultation rooms aimed to create a holistic approach to addressing family education issues. The program provided families with a safe and supportive environment where they could seek help and support. With the success of the pilot program, there are plans to expand the consultation rooms to more districts in Beijing.
parenting is a challenging experience that can sometimes leave parents feeling overwhelmed and at a loss. The establishment of consultation rooms in Beijing is a positive step towards providing families with the support they need to overcome parenting challenges. Counselors like Su Shu provide valuable advice and guidance to parents, and the consultation rooms serve as a bridge between schools and families, facilitating communication and cooperation to address issues affecting students’ academic and personal growth. With the success of the pilot program, there are hopes that more families will have access to this valuable resource in the future.
Over 100 counseling rooms have been established in Beijing by the end of last year. These centers are part of a plan developed by the committee for the well-being of the next generation affiliated with the Beijing Municipal Education Commission. The plan aims to evenly distribute these counseling rooms throughout the city’s districts.
Typically, these counseling rooms offer two 90-minute consultations per day on weekdays during school terms and one daily during winter vacation. Parents can seek advice and guidance from one expert and one volunteer who will address their concerns and provide relevant records.
The counseling rooms serve as a valuable resource for families facing a variety of challenges related to family education. Parents can seek advice on issues such as discipline, communication, and academic performance. These counseling rooms aim to improve parents’ skills and facilitate communication and cooperation between schools and families to address issues affecting students’ academic and personal growth.
The establishment of these counseling rooms is a positive step towards providing support and guidance to families during these challenging times. With the plan’s goal to distribute the centers evenly throughout the city’s districts, more families can access this valuable resource and receive the help they need.
According to Su, after parents leave the consultation room, the expert and volunteer conduct a review of the session to identify any shortcomings in their services and make improvements. For families facing more serious problems, volunteers conduct a second session to provide further support and guidance.
Starting from the next school term, the counseling room in Shunyi will adopt an appointment mechanism to ensure that all parents in the district have access to their services. This will help to meet the increasing demand for family education counseling and support in the area.
Communication between parents and children, habits, and ability cultivation are some of the most common problems parents have sought guidance on in these counseling rooms. Other issues include general interpersonal communication, emotional adjustment, psychological adaptation, and care-taking skills.
By addressing these challenges, counseling rooms aim to promote healthy and positive family relationships and support children’s personal and academic growth. With the appointment mechanism in place, more parents in Shunyi and other districts across Beijing can receive the help they need to navigate the complexities of parenting and family life.
Overall, these counseling rooms serve as a vital resource for families in Beijing, providing them with access to guidance, support, and resources to improve their parenting skills and promote positive family dynamics. By continuing to offer these services and making improvements to their programs, these centers can continue to make a positive impact on the lives of families across the city.
According to Su, some parents place high expectations on their children without sufficient understanding of their kids, which can lead to a lack of guidance and the inability to teach children according to their aptitudes. This can create challenging situations for both parents and children. Additionally, many parents may lack knowledge about family education and its best practices, which can contribute to their children’s issues.
It’s important for parents to understand that some of their children’s problems may stem from their parenting styles and approaches. By educating themselves and seeking guidance from counseling rooms, parents can better equip themselves to meet the challenges of raising children and promote their children’s personal and academic growth.
Through counseling rooms and other resources, parents can gain the skills and knowledge they need to foster healthy and positive family dynamics. By recognizing the importance of family education and seeking support when needed, parents can help their children thrive and succeed.
As Su explains, counseling is a science that requires ongoing learning and improvement. To ensure that they provide the best possible support to families, volunteers in counseling rooms produce summaries of their sessions and learn from their experiences. However, there is still room for improvement in volunteers’ professionalism to meet the diverse needs of families seeking guidance and support.
Wang Lin is a primary school psychology instructor in Beijing’s Fengtai district and a volunteer at the district’s “family-school-society” coeducation counseling room. In her role, she encounters various family education issues almost daily, both in the classroom and the counseling room. Wang’s approach to counseling involves active listening, allowing families to take their time to describe their problems before offering suggestions.
For Wang, there is a sense of accomplishment that comes from watching a child and their parents walk into the counseling room crying or sad, only to leave with bright smiles. By providing a safe and supportive environment for families to share their challenges and concerns, counseling rooms can make a positive impact on the lives of both parents and children.
Through ongoing professional development and training, volunteers like Wang can improve their skills and knowledge to better support families facing a wide range of issues. By listening actively and providing practical guidance and support, volunteers in counseling rooms can help families build stronger, more positive relationships and promote children’s personal and academic growth.
Overall, counseling rooms are a valuable resource for families in Beijing, providing them with access to guidance and support to navigate the challenges of parenting and family life. With dedicated volunteers like Wang and ongoing improvements to their services, counseling rooms can continue to make a positive impact on the lives of families across the city.
The relationship between second-born children and their parents is a commonly discussed topic, and it is one that Su encounters often. She shared a story about a 10-year-old girl who visited her consultation room and expressed that she felt her parents favored her brother. Initially, the girl was silent, but she eventually broke down in tears and shared her grievances with Wang.
The girl asked, “No matter what I do, my parents always ask me to humor my brother. I’ve tried my best to do everything right. Why don’t they notice?” Wang then invited the girl’s parents to the counseling room to suggest that they listen to their daughter more and pay more attention to her progress.
After a dozen sessions, Wang noticed a significant change in the girl’s demeanor. She became more outgoing and confident, often telling Wang about the praises and gifts her parents gave her. The mother expressed her surprise, saying, “I never realized that our careless actions caused so much harm to our daughter.”
Wang’s approach is to listen first and let families take their time to describe their problems before offering suggestions. She finds great fulfillment in watching families leave the consultation room with bright smiles after arriving with tears or sadness. Counseling is a science, and Wang believes that volunteers’ professionalism needs to improve to meet families’ diverse needs. She and other volunteers produce summaries and learn from their experiences to continuously improve their services.
Wang has been expanding her reach beyond the counseling rooms by sending family education coaches into communities and establishing a consulting room with other psychology instructors in the Fengyi Garden community in Fengtai. These instructors take turns answering questions and providing services to residents, including helping students who have dropped out of school due to internet addiction to re-enroll, finding runaway children, and addressing questions about primary and junior high school admissions policies.
Wang’s public service work has earned her the trust and gratitude of the residents she serves. She recalls receiving a call a few months ago from a mother whose daughter had dropped out of junior high school for a year, spending her days lying in bed staring at the ceiling and refusing to see a doctor. The mother hoped that Wang could help her daughter re-enroll in school.
Without hesitation, Wang went to their home and visited the girl’s bedroom. She found the girl lying in bed, pale and thin. Wang talked with her and discovered that she was struggling with depression and a lack of motivation. After several conversations, Wang discovered that the girl was interested in drawing and suggested she enroll in an art class.
The girl’s mother agreed and enrolled her daughter in the class. Wang followed up with the girl and her mother regularly, and soon the girl’s depression began to lift, and she became more motivated to engage with the world around her. Wang also worked with the girl’s teachers and helped them understand her needs and strengths.
Through her efforts, the girl was able to re-enroll in school, and Wang continued to work with her and her family to support her ongoing academic success. This experience, like many others, has motivated Wang to continue to serve her community and to help families find the resources they need to thrive.
Wang’s efforts to support families extend beyond the counseling room. She has also sent family education coaches into communities and established a consulting room in the Fengyi Garden community in Fengtai with other psychology instructors. In this room, they take turns answering questions and providing services for residents, such as helping students who drop out of school due to internet addiction to re-enroll and answering questions about school admissions policies. Wang is grateful for the trust and gratitude she has received from the community for her public service.
One example of her outreach efforts is when she received a call from a mother whose junior high daughter had dropped out of school for a year and refused to see a doctor. When Wang visited the girl’s bedroom, the curtains were tightly closed, and empty cola bottles filled the bedside table. The girl was polite but whispered when she greeted Wang. Wang knew she had to help this child out of the house.
Over the following weeks, Wang visited the girl with snacks and fruit, and they chatted like friends. The girl gradually began to open up about her struggles. She explained that her parents took her to the hospital, but she didn’t want to take the prescribed medication because she thought it would make her fat, so she secretly vomited it up. After almost two months of counseling with Wang, the girl finally agreed to see a doctor again. Thanks to the treatment provided by a professional psychologist, the girl’s mental health has returned to normal, and she is back in school.
Wang sees many children in similar situations, who struggle to speak up and seek help. She emphasizes the importance of providing proper treatment to support these children and their families. Without it, their situations may worsen. Counseling rooms in schools and communities have great value in supporting families in need.