Parenting program comes to Killingly

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.

Killingly is one of four communities in northeastern Connecticut that will be part of a parenting initiative sponsored by the Department of Social Services and The Children's Trust Fund that will kick off in March. Positive Parenting Program, or Triple P, aims to provide a set of skills and tips on how to deal with behavioral, emotional, mental and related illnesses in children.

Paxis Institute CEO Dennis Embry, PhD, and Triple P specialist Sara van Driel, PhD, spoke at length about research on MEBRIs (mental, emotional, behavioral and related illnesses) and how the Triple P program can be effective in dealing with them at an informational session in Thompson on Jan. 16.

Dr. Erica Kesselman, an OB-GYN practitioner in Plainfield and Putnam, was one of those in attendance. She sees one of the benefits of the program to be the creation of a culture of positive parenting in the quiet corner. It reminded her of the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

“Parenting is one of the hardest things any of us will ever do, and yet there is all the judgment about bad parenting,” Kesselman said. Part of the problem, as she sees it, is the fragmentation of the community. “I see the program as a way to establish a community of advice givers who are not coming from a critical place,” she said.

Kesselman speaks from experience. Not only does she see mothers with a wide range of experience and background in her practice, her own motherhood experience humbled her. “I essentially starved my newborn,” she said. Nursing was difficult. She had little support. She had postpartum depression. “I didn't know what to do with myself,” she said. “I see women at six-week visits with postpartum depression. I see women who are trying to hide because all their friends seem to be perfect parents,” she said. “This training really cuts through all the crap.”

The program will provide training 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.

Triple P teaches steps adults can take to address problem behaviors in children. Those steps include teaching children about safety, giving them attention, time, and encouragement, being affectionate with them and praising their efforts and accomplishments. Training will include a day-long training session, a pre-accreditation workshop, an accreditation workshop and a clinical consulting workshop.
Laurie Green with Village Preschool/Daycare in Killingly intends to apply for the training. “I liked the practicality of it,” she said. “I like the idea of the handouts and the step-by-step, family-oriented approach. A lot of it is common sense, but there were good strategies that parents might not be considering.”

Green said that her own family experiences with MEBRIs were humbling. “I felt that as an educator I was prepared to get through that. But when you're in it, and you see someone in your family suffering from it, it's debilitating to watch when you can't figure out what to do.”

The initiative will start with training sessions held at the Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group offices in North Grosvenordale. 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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