Tahlequah Daily Press

October 11, 2013

Workshop hones parenting skills

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — In Cherokee culture, the word for hero is “a-tsi-lv-quo-di,” meaning “someone who is loved or admired.”

Parenting classes, sponsored by the Cherokee Nation, are helping adults become heroes to their children by teaching successful strategies for coping with behaviors. This is not parenting for people who are being sent to classes by the courts, but for all parents looking for tools to help them improve.

The Hero Project wants to make sure every child does his best, said project coordinator Dallis Pettigrew.

“When we started asking parents how we could do this, they kept telling us they need more ideas about dealing with the kinds of challenges that all parents face, like young children biting or having tantrums,” Pettigrew said.

Community support and parental support will help put the priority on children.

“We’re really excited to have a chance to bring this program to the community so we can support every parent in the most important job they have,” said Misty Boyd, project director.

Tuesday night, the second of three free workshops was held from 6-8 p.m. It began with a short video review of week one.

Five keys to successful parenting begin with a safe, engaging environment where children are safe to explore.

“Make your home a safe place without a lot of ‘no-go’ places so you’re not saying, ‘no’ all the time,” said presenter Hannah LaBounty, evidence-based intervention specialist. “Kids need a safe, secure, predictable environment.”

Second, create a positive learning environment.

“Be available when your child approaches you; stop what you’re doing and spend a little time with them,” LaBounty said. “Pay attention to the positive things you see your child doing and praise them.”

Assertive, consistent discipline is the third key.

“Deal with behaviors in an acceptable way,” LaBounty said. “Give them one warning, then follow through with an action. Praise the child when [he does] what is asked.”

Consequences could include taking away a phone or game for 10 minutes, until the child does what was asked of him.

LaBounty: “Parenting doesn’t come with       instructions”

The fourth key is for parents to have realistic, reasonable expectations.

“Every parent makes mistakes; parenting doesn’t come with instructions,” LaBounty said. “This support is for everybody. Kids curse and bite or wander off in Walmart. There are a lot of different strategies; you know what works best for your child and your family.”

Taking care of self is the fifth key. Parents need intimacy, companionship and private time away from children.

The Positive Parenting Program – Triple P – supports families in everything from positive relationships with their kids to dealing with behavior problems, said Juli Skinner, young child wellness expert.

“We introduce all of this in our community presentations. We can also tailor it and work with families one-on-one for different kinds of worries that most parents have,” Skinner said. “We think it’s really important that people understand children’s development, including how ‘normal’ most of our parenting challenges are.”

Kids learn a lot as they grow up, and do parents, Skinner said.

“We believe it’s important for people to know there are some tips or skills we can help them with to make those challenges pass a little easier. That helps parents enjoy their time with their kids and not feel like they aren’t doing the right things as a parent,” said Skinner.

If children experience love and admiration, they go on to do great things, to be heroes, Pettigrew said.

“Our goal for the project is ‘Helping Others Reach Out.’ Ultimately, we will build a system that allows communities to reach out to help others and families and youth to reach out to their support systems for assistance,” he said.

Triple P presentations will be scheduled regularly in the community. Families can request individual consultation, or churches, schools, and other groups can request Triple P presentations for their members. Contact Juli Skinner for these requests at (918) 207-3898.