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New workshop focuses on positive discipline

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A new workshop offered through the Fort Frances “Best Start” hub is teaching parents positive discipline choices and to understand what is normal behaviour for ages zero- to six-years-old.

The Children See Children Learn workshop was developed by the Best Start Resource Centre, a program of Health Nexus—a registered charitable organization with a focus on healthy child development, community engagement and partnership development.

“The purpose of [the workshop] is to reduce the prevalence of physical and emotional punishment for children from birth to age six,” said Miranda Sigurdson, a public health nurse with the Northwestern Health Unit.

“It's just to help parents understand, developmentally, what's appropriate and how to handle behaviours that are difficult to manage."The Fort Frances "Best Start” hub will be hosting two workshops this month.

The first will be held tomorrow (Aug. 2) at 5:30 p.m. for parents with children aged zero-two, and the second on Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. for those with children aged three-five.

Sigurdson said while children are welcome, the workshop is an information session geared towards parents.

Each session focuses on the developmental behaviours of the age groups, and what to expect as their children grow, as well as pointing out that a lot of behaviours are normal.

They will also look at various tips and ways to work through or deter difficult behaviours such as temper tantrums, children not listening when being asked to do something and hitting other kids, among others.

The workshop is new in town, and was first held in June. While it did have a smaller attendance, Sigurdson said it was well received.

“The parents really enjoyed it,” she said.

“They felt like they felt affirmed for a lot of the things they're already doing.”

Karly Rousseau, coordinator at the Fort Frances “Best Start” hub, echoed Sigurdson's statements, and said the workshop can be very helpful for parents.

“It's good for everybody," said Karly Rousseau, coordinator at the "Best Start” hub.

“It's a good reminder for everybody that has children, or is around children, that they pick up on everything that you say and do and how you react to things, and they're constantly learning from you,” she added.

Sigurdson added that many parents know a lot of the right steps to take, but don't always know why they do them.

“A lot of the information from the program helped explain the whole developmental appropriateness of different things for the parents,” said Sigurdson.

“It gives them that reason as to 'This is why I'm not choosing to do a time-out, I'm going to do a time-in,' and the importance of staying calm,” she added.

The workshop also aims to “help parents . . . understand the impact of their actions.”The first few years of a child's life are impressionable and the Children See Children Learn website notes research shows negative and physical discipline don't work and can have an adverse impact on the child which can affect them later in life.

More aggressive behaviours such as low self-esteem, difficulty dealing with emotions and angry outbursts are some examples of how negative discipline can have an affect, said Sigurdson.

She added long-term, children can be affected in ways such as how they relate to others in a relationship and difficulty problem solving or handling stress.

“We're not just talking about physical punishment, but also emotional punishment and how shame can really impact a child's psychological development and the way they feel about themselves and others,” said Sigurdson.

“Another huge one around emotional abuse is [being] scared to ask for help and how important that is to ask for help when you don't know,” she added.

The hour-long workshop will start with a discussion about what the parents hope to get out of the program, will introduce themselves and talk a little bit about the their child, followed by some information on what positive discipline is.

Sigurdson stressed that the workshop is a basic information session and is only about an hour and-a-half long.

“We just overall talk about positive discipline—what is it [and] what does it look like?” said Sigurdson.

The group will also be talking about what their children are currently learning and what they are doing, while discussing child development for their age group.

“It's a lot of discussion and interaction between the parents and learning from each other as well,” said Sigurdson.

“Also, normalizing that they're not the only ones that are having a two-year-old that's having tempter tantrums.”

Registration is still open for both workshops, but those interested in the Aug. 2 workshop are encouraged to call ahead of time as dinner is also provided.

Those looking for more information or to register can call the “Best Start” hub at 274-8588.

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