Parenting classes are a relatively new phenomenon to this country, but they’re quickly becoming a lucrative business. With its focus on ‘gentle and respectful’ parenting techniques, Toddler Calm has tapped into a huge market of parents looking for advice on bringing up their little ones. One of the brains behind this revolutionary new approach is clinical psychologist Dr Victoria Montgomery, who has helped to devise the national programme and also runs workshops from Peterborough’s Calmababy centre. TAMSIN COCKS spoke to her about Toddler Calm’s unique brand of parenting advice
In 2004, Channel 4’s ‘Supernanny’ Jo Frost burst onto our screens, waggling her finger and dishing out strict behavioural techniques including the now infamous ‘naughty step’. It was pretty revolutionary stuff at the time, because while attending antenatal classes has been commonplace for years, advice on what comes next – has not. So it’s hardly surprising that the show’s methods were eagerly embraced by thousands of frazzled parents, but for those not so keen on Jo Frost’s stern tactics, there simply wasn’t much of an alternative.
It was the identification of this void that led to the development of Toddler Calm as Dr Victoria Montgomery explains. ‘Literally the reason we started building Toddler Calm was because people who had been to Baby Calm (Toddler Calm’s parent company founded by Sarah Ockwell-Smith) were saying, “Great, you really helped our baby. But now in toddlerhood, we’re lost!
Since launching in March 2012, Toddler Calm is already operating from over 100 locations worldwide, including Iceland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and China
There’s no advice out there that we’re interested in.” And the gap they were talking about is what we would call gentle and respectful parenting techniques. Toddler Calm is a very mainstream product that appeals to people who want to understand their toddler, and parent in a way that’s ‘onside’, rather than ‘battling’.
And what we’ve found since we launched is that that’s actually a massive market of people.’ Massive is not an exaggeration. Since launching in March 2012, Toddler Calm is already operating from over 100 locations worldwide, including Iceland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, China and more, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as Victoria reveals: ‘I’m constantly gobsmacked by how people rate it ten out of ten at every single course and workshop, and people say things like “this was so thought provoking” or “it’s opened my eyes up”.’
‘We come from a point of understanding a child’s brain development’
So what exactly is it that legions of parents are being attracted to? ‘There’s two things we do at Toddler Calm which is different to what anyone else does’, explains Victoria. ‘Firstly we really come from a point of understanding a child’s brain development and looking at what that means for what a parent can expect from a toddler. Because as humans we’re born with only…