Parenting initiative comes to northeastern Connecticut

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Mon., Jan. 21, 2013
Paxis Institute CEO Dennis Embry talks with NDDH Director Susan Starkey about the Triple P Program. Photos by D. Coffey.
Paxis Institute CEO Dennis Embry talks with NDDH Director Susan Starkey about the Triple P Program. Photos by D. Coffey.

A parenting initiative sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Social Services and the Children's Trust Fund will begin in northeastern Connecticut in early March. Triple P, or the Positive Parenting Program, is a system of education and support for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents. Designed to provide simple tools and tip sheets to deal with children's behavioral issues, Triple P has earned recognition from the U.S. Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academies.

Dennis Embry, CEO and president of PAXIS Institute in Arizona and national Triple P consultant, spoke to a gathering of health care providers, teachers, non-profit and government leaders on Jan. 16. “Mental, emotional and behavioral disorders are preventable,” he told the audience. He provided a clinical and wide-ranging discussion of the research done to support his claim. The research includes randomized controlled trials, single case studies, and population-level trials conducted over 30 years.

“Childhood depression can be avoided,” he said. “ADHD can be prevented.” A report from the IOM supported his claim that MEBRIs (mental, emotional, behavioral and related illnesses) are preventable, like many diseases. “The underlying stuff is rocket science,” Embry said, “but the practical things are not.” Embry's presentation went through the clinical details of some of those trials, but he also explained some relatively simple steps adults could take to address problem behaviors in children.

While each step of the program is scientifically-based, they are also within reach of most parents. They include teaching your child about safety, paying attention to them, giving them encouragement, spending time with them, speaking nicely to them, listening to them, and being affectionate with them. Praising their efforts and accomplishments will go far in improving their behavior, Embry said.  Setting ground rules, ignoring minor misbehavior, giving calm, clear instructions, and using time out and quiet time have all been shown to be effective in changing a child's errant behavior. He stressed de-emphasizing negative and reinforcing positive behaviors. “Your grandmother knew these things,” Embry said.

The Triple P Program consists of five key components: creating a safe, nurturing environment; creating a positive learning environment; using assertive discipline; setting realistic expectations; and for parents – taking care of themselves.

The initiative will start with training sessions held at the Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group offices in North Grosvenordale. Because Triple P is a public health model, training will be available to a wide range of individuals who have brief, repeated contact with parents or families. Coaches, CCD teachers, daycare providers, physicians, health care workers, family support staff, social workers, bus drivers, guidance counselors and ministers are the kinds of practitioners Triple P aims to support.

Training will include a day-long training session, a pre-accreditation workshop, an accreditation workshop and a clinical consulting workshop. The proposed training will start in late March.

TEEG Executive Director Donna Grant said that northeastern Connecticut was chosen as one of two demonstration sites in the state because of the strong relationships that exist between community, social service, and faith-based agencies and healthcare providers. The program will also be instituted in Hartford. The rationale for providing training in both rural and urban settings is because the rates of MEBRI's has risen to epidemic proportions across the country according to Embry. This initiative will show that Triple P works across socio-economic lines, he said.

A wide range of applicants will be selected on the basis of interest, organizational support, geographical distribution and the availability of slots. Those selected for training will be expected to complete the training, get accredited and participate in a Triple P network encompassing the towns of Thompson, Woodstock, Pomfret, Putnam and Killingly. Those individuals will also assist in evaluations of the program and participation in discussions about ways to implement the program within their organizations.

All interested individuals are urged to apply by Feb. 15. For more information, contact Diane Farquharson, early childhood coordinator at TEEG, at 860-923-3458.

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