An international programme aimed at helping new parents form strong bonds with their children has been given the green light in Tauranga.
The pilot Security Attachment Families Education (SAFE) programme will begin early next year after gaining funding from Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT).
The programme was designed to help guide new parents to form stronger emotional bonds with their babies, leading toward a generation of more confident and able children.
Tauranga child psychotherapist Augustina Driessen said these bonds were essential to a child's development and shaped their behaviour and ability in later life.
``Many [parents] want to be good parents but many don't know how to be anymore. They have lost the art of parenting and that is about giving the child clear boundaries _ helping children, being there for them, not allowing children to make choices because mentally they cannot make real choices, it's too much.''
The programme, which Ms Driessen had been working to bring to Tauranga for the past seven years, would take parents ``back to the beginning,'' she said.
It was developed in Germany by Dr Karl Heinz Brisch who specialises in child, adolescent and adult psychotherapy and neurology. He will serve as Ms Driessen's supervisor doing the pilot.
Ms Driessen said the programme was different to other parenting courses because it focussed on enhancing the emotional bond between parents and child.
``It's that emotional bond that steers the children for their whole life. If the attachment is strong, they grow up confident and form strong relationships in life. If the attachment is not so strong, they can't make relationships, they can, but they are not good, sound relationships.''
Ms Driessen said she and colleague, clinical psychologist Tanzi Bennison, hoped to get between five and 10 couples signed up.
Ms Bennison said the pilot launch was ``extremely exciting''.
``We have been working really, really hard to get this off the ground and to finally have the opportunity to have a pilot programme and get some of the research to prove the effectiveness of the programme is a thrill.''
Dame Susan Devoy _ one of the TECT committee members who approved the funding _ said the programme was ``very worthy''.
``There are some pretty horrible statistics out there around child abuse,'' she said.
``Her programme is very well researched and she comes with an awful lot of expertise. I just hope and pray it makes a difference.''
Parents sign up for four classes held on Sundays before the baby is born then six classes every couple of months for a year.
Places on the pilot programme are available to women who will be 20 to 28 weeks' pregnant during February and their husband or partner.
Couples interested in taking part in the free programme can contact Ms Driessen by emailing her.