We want our children to grow up to be healthy, happy, educated members of society. The task of ensuring good outcomes for children, however, is challenging. Economic pressures, unsafe neighborhoods, disagreements amoung family members, and the demands of helping children and adolescent cope with pressure from their peers all contribute to stress within a family unit. This series of research-based workshops focuses on helping parents and their children learn skills to relate openly and effectively with each other while working toward successful outcomes together. Parents will learn how to foster the development of their children’s self-control and coach them in learning social, academic, and life skills while creating a safe, supportive home environment. Each family, of course, has unique needs. Workshops are flexible and will address the individual needs of each family. The workshops will ensure that parents have the opportunities to master validated skills and strategies that will enable them to accomplish their desired teaching and relationship-building goals. Skills are designed to be generic and applicable in a variety of situations and allow for individualization. Participants will be able to adapt the skills to fit their own family situations.

Relationship and communication

This workshop is the foundation for the workshop series. It is designed to help parents continue to build and develop positive, healthy relationships within the family. We will discuss active listening skills and framing interactions to be positive and supportive. Sincerely expressing empathy, concern, and care during conversations, having fun, and developing procedures to help children succeed will also be covered. As parents gain additional insight into their children’s interests, concerns, ideas, and goals a foundation will be built to base further skill development. Communication goals will also focus on how to structure a positive, productive family meeting in which family decisions may be made, problems solved, and activities planned with the active involvement of all family members.

Goal setting and problem-solving

This workshop is designed to provide parents with the skills to further enhance self-esteem and confidence in their children. Self-esteem and confidence build on a child’s strengths and grow out of past achievements. The focus of this workshop is on an easy-to-use strategy for parents to use to help their children realistically identify and successfully achieve goals. The emphasis is on the child or adolescent’s role with regard to accepting personal responsibility for completing particular tasks and working collaboratively with a parent to accomplish other tasks where additional help may be needed. Confidence also increases as children learn how to appropriately navigate through difficult situations. Parents will learn a practical strategy to use as a guide for helping their children become effective problem solvers.

Teaching skills to children and adolescents

Parents will learn strategies for teaching social skills, academic skills, and life skills (such as time management, organization). Parents will identify the types of skills they would like to teach their children. Examples of skills include greeting people, giving compliments, resisting peer pressure, asking for help, organizing a backpack or locker at school, taking notes during teacher lectures, studying for a test, keeping an accurate calendar of school activities, or successfully completing a chore. After participants identify skills and learn more about each skill, they will have the opportunity to practice during the workshop. Parents will also be introduced to the Socially Wise Program, an interactive multimedia CD program for adolescents.

Stress management

This workshop focuses on a practical, down-to-earth, program that teaches family members specific skills for de-stressing and bringing more balance and ease into their daily lives. The focus is on handling challenges constructively, communicating effectively, and improving relationships. 

The organization behind the program is the Institute of HeartMath. This program’s success can be attributed largely to two of HeartMath’s most effective self-regulation techniques, which provide simple, but effective ways to shift into “coherence,” a state in which the heart, brain and nervous system are in alignment. This balanced state forms the foundation of both personal and family resilience. 

In addition, family members learn to start the process of managing stress and identifying depleting emotions that drain our resilience, impair relationships and diminish performance. Participants will learn how stress impacts them and their loved ones, and how to better self-regulate thoughts and emotions. In addition, the Institute of HeartMath has developed a set of tools and techniques that enable children and teens to better recognize and self-regulate stress. Participants in this workshop will be given access to age-appropriate versions of these techniques to share with their children.