Cornelia Singletary leads a group discussion on positive parenting tips during one of the weekly Incredible Years sessions.

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Cornelia Singletary leads a group discussion on positive parenting tips during one of the weekly Incredible Years sessions.

Down East Partnership offers free parenting program

From Staff Reports

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Enrollment has begun for a free parenting skills program offered by the Down East Partnership for Children.

The Incredible Years is a 16-week parenting program that aims to foster healthy development in young children by strengthening parenting skills and promoting children’s academic, social and emotional skills.

“This is not just a parenting class for parents with children who are having troubling behaviors,” DEPC Family Services Program Manager Cornelia Singletary said. “It’s a 16-week series designed to strengthen families and focus on prevention. It’s about making the family as strong as it can be.”

Nicole Wright, the mother of a 5-year-old daughter, said she heard about the program on Facebook and after learning more about it decided to sign up.

“I almost didn’t come,” Wright said. “But everyone was so welcoming, and what I have learned has been eye-opening.”

Parents enrolled in the program meet for about two hours each week at the Down East Partnership for Children for dinner and discussions about positive communication and child-directed play skills, setting consistent and clear limits and nonviolent discipline strategies. While parents meet with the facilitators, their children play in the Partnership’s Indoor Play Space.

“It’s a huge support group for parents,” Wright said. “Whether you have well-behaved or worst-behaved children, this is really a judge-free zone. But we don’t just talk about problems and what’s going wrong. The key is that we focus on solutions.”

Parents find themselves connected with other parents who also are experiencing many of the same challenges that come with raising young children, said DEPC Family Services Coordinator Jennifer Cobb.

“We often hear parents say they have remained in contact with the families they met here at Incredible Years,” she said. “We see such a positive change in families at the end of the series.”

The series focuses its efforts on the way parents interact with their children – how to praise and engage in child-directed play. It teaches parents how to help their children manage anger and problem solve. The objectives for the children are to strengthen social and academic competence, reduce behavior problems and increase positive interactions with peers, teachers and parents.

“At first I thought this was going to be a class on how to fix the kids,” said Wright. “But, it’s really about fixing the parents. This has made me feel more confident in not just how I interact with not just my kids but other people in general.”

The next session of The Incredible Years Preschool Series for parents who have children ages 3-5 but not yet in kindergarten begins Aug. 22. For more information about the program, contact Singletary or Cobb at 252-985-4300 ext. 241 or by email at csingletary@depc.org or jcobb@depc.org.