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Instructor interview: Melissa Strader

Instructor interview: Melissa Strader

Written by Kathryn Tonges

Melissa, please tell us a little about yourself.

By far my biggest accomplishment is my two beautiful children. Like many siblings they are completely different. An introverted, academic and sensitive 14 year old boy and a feisty, charismatic and creative 11 year old girl. I joke that if I had just had my son life would have been so easy and I would have been at risk of being a very smug mum. Raising my daughter has challenged me beyond measure, forced me learn to parent differently and brought unending joy. I’m so grateful for my family!

Prior to having my own children I worked for many years with other people’s children as an early childhood and primary school teacher. With a strong interest in art and having always been interested in psychology and human behaviour, I later trained as an art therapist.

How did you first hear about P.E.T.? 

At the time I first heard about P.E.T., I was working on developing my own parenting program based on Choice Theory (Dr. William Glasser), positive parenting and my underlying core belief that connected relationships were at the heart of parenting well. My husband and I were also struggling to deal with our young daughter’s huge emotions and volatile temper, when my husband happened to be discussing our parenting dilemmas and my work aspirations with a fellow colleague. As it turned out that work colleague’s Mum was a P.E.T. instructor and so he put us in touch. It only took one conversation to realise how closely aligned P.E.T. was with what I was trying to develop. Dr Thomas Gordon had already done the hard work for me!

What inspired you to become a P.E.T. instructor?

My husband and I did a P.E.T. course together and found it invaluable for our family. I knew I wanted more so very shortly afterwards I undertook the instructor training with Kathryn Tonges and soon began running my own P.E.T. courses. I was already passionate about parenting well and helping other parents to enjoy parenting, too. However the difference we saw and felt in our own family convinced me that becoming a P.E.T. instructor was the perfect way to assist parents and follow my passion.

What have you enjoyed about facilitating P.E.T. courses?

I love connecting with parents and feeling as though I can help them to feel more confident in their role as parents. Somewhat indulgently, running P.E.T courses also continues to cement my own personal knowledge and experience of parenting.

You have trained in T.E.T. and will soon complete B.Y.B. Instructor Training. What are your future plans as an Instructor?

I saw such broad application with the communication skills taught in P.E.T. that I would like to expand my practice to include teachers as they work so closely with children and also those who want to improve personally, whether or not they have children. As well as aiming to increase the courses I offer, I’ve been studying (and have just about completed) a Diploma of Counselling. Putting all of that together with my Art Therapy and Teaching background I would eventually like to be able to offer comprehensive group and individual sessions at whatever level people desired assistance.

Thank you, Melissa, for the volunteer work you do for ETIA. You have taken on the role of Vice-President of ETIA a year ago and also helped with blog writing and with social media posts. Why has this been important for you?

I feel as though I have gained so much both personally and professionally from the ETIA programs that I wanted to give something back; a small gesture to say thank you! If I’m completely honest, I also benefit because I tend to work more effectively with an external motivator and deadlines. Preparing things for ETIA and being more accountable has helped me prioritise my blog writing and keep my business-related items up to date. I believe wholeheartedly in the ETIA programs and therefore want to assist in promoting these in the hope that more people will benefit from them.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for new instructors who are hesitating or are about to conduct their first course?

It can feel daunting as you begin, not just with the idea of running your first course but also with self-confidence. At the same time, the way we grow is by accepting that we may have to feel somewhat uncomfortable initially. Little by little as our confidence and skills grow, we can face increasing challenges and before we know it we are on our way.

My suggestion for new instructors is simply to start. Just like when we try to return to exercise after a break, the first step is to put your shoes on. The same applies for running an Effectiveness Training course, just book one in and go for it.

Thank you Melissa for taking the time to share and inspire ETIA instructors and those who have taken a break for awhile. ETIA wishes you all the very best as you conduct future courses and continue to change the lives of many.

Kathryn Tonges

Kathryn Tonges

Online Australia & NZ, QLD

I have been deeply rewarded seeing positive transformations in families by teaching P.E.T. effective communication skills since 1978. My two sons are now parents, and I am witness to their natural use of P.E.T. skills in all their interactions with children and people. My passion is to share these skills with others through these options: 1. Parent Effectiveness Training - for parents, grandparents, carers. 2. Be Your Best – personal empowerment skills for self, relationships, and the workplace. 3. Teacher Effectiveness Training – increases the quality of interactions between student and teacher with more teaching-learning time. 4. Instructor Training - I am a Master Trainer of P.E.T., B.Y.B., T.E.T. and Y.E.T. for ETIA Ltd. In my teaching career I taught from early childhood to tertiary level focusing on Child Development and Communication Skills. I lived in Beijing for seven years and conducted P.E.T. and B.Y.B. courses for expatriates as well as training expatriates to become P.E.T. instructors. I have written for parenting magazines in Beijing and Australia and blog for my website The Parent Within ( Whilst in Beijing I co-authored a book with P.E.T. Instructors I had trained, to help expatriate children cope with the changes in their life. In the last couple of years I have taken on the position of President of ETIA Ltd. Children, parenting, and effective communications continues to be my passion as I share these courses both online (Australia and NZ) or face to face in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast as well as coaching parents individually.

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Loving Family | About ETIA

About ETIA

The Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia (ETIA) Ltd is a not-for-profit, community based organisation that is dedicated to making courses in communication and conflict resolution skills available and accessible to all people in Australia.

ETIA’s mission is to provide individuals with effective communication and conflict resolution skills to build connected, harmonious relationships.

Our inspiration and programs come from the late Dr Thomas Gordon who is the author and founder of Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) program and Gordon Training International (GTI).

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