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Grant Proposal for Strengthening the Family Unit
Program Design and Implementation
The overall design and structure of the program will orbit around multiple activities and methodologies which are designed to fortify the overall family unit, most notably the parental unit. Parenting is an extremely challenging endeavor and one which can put a considerable strain on a marriage -- even the strongest marriage. Thus, one of the foremost aspects of the program in general will consist of a parenting skills training program to minimize behavior problems in young children (particularly when these children are at the most difficult age) by bolstering the level of parent self-efficacy through beneficial parenting behaviors and overall child discipline strategies (NREPP, 2012).
Many of the strategies used in this case will be modeled after the Chicago Parent Program (CPP), which is an extremely well organized program that is founded in the notion that parents play the most fundamental part in shaping and developing the behavior of their children via the parts they play as a role models and via their consistent behavioral interactions. This program consists of 11 weekly sessions of two hours in length followed by reinforcement sessions, one to two months later. "These 2-hour sessions are facilitated by two trained group leaders and use video vignettes, more than 250 in all, to depict parent-child interactions at home and in various community settings (e.g., grocery store, Laundromat). The scenes, which present challenging situations parents typically face with their children, stimulate discussion and problem-solving related to child behavior and parenting skills. Sessions focus on building positive relationships with children (e.g., having child-centered time, maintaining family routines and traditions, using praise and encouragement), child behavior management skills (e.g., following through with consequences, using effective forms of discipline), stress management, and problem-solving skills" (NREPP, 2012) This program essentially orbits around the idea that no adult is borne with innate parenting skills, and that people need to be coached and prepped for the taxing and thankless job that is raising children. Furthermore, one could easily make the argument that if someone originated from a family where the parenting skills weren't good, that puts them at an extreme disadvantage for raising kids. People often repeat the patterns of behavior that they were exposed to as children, even if those patterns aren't the most ideal.
Originally, this particular program was created to meet the needs of ethnic parents raising children in low-income urban communities (NREPP, 2012). Thus, this aspect of the program will function largely to provide a strong educational foundation for parents, particularly when it comes to trouble-shooting problematic behavior put forth by children. This type of bad-behavior can challenge the parental skills of even the best parents; adults need to have structured strategies for determining how to thwart and prevent kids from acting out in public and how to deal with tantrums, stubbornness, defiance and other bad behavior.
Another component of the program will be presenting thorough techniques and interventions for dealing with the problem behaviors of children. Some problematic behaviors will require more specific techniques used by parents so that they are able to successfully stop and address certain dysfunctional actions of children. These situations will sometimes require concerted interventions, and other times will require interventional programs. For instance, the Positive Action (PA) program looked at how structured interventions were effective with children who had bullying or disruptive behaviors, or who had self-professed lifetime substance abuse (Li et al., 2010). Parents need to be taught what these interventions are and how they can engage in these interventions with their children in their own homes in a manner which gets results. Parents also need to be taught how to seek out such interventions in their own communities if they have a problem situation with a child which is more intensive. Understanding the role and content of effective interventions needs to be presented to parents so that they understand and know when to draw upon such methods and resources.
The program absolutely needs to have a section on how parents can adequately prevent their children from taking drugs. Drugs can too easily derail the direction of their lives and cause children to veer way off course, into lives of delinquency and juvenility and undermine the integrity of the family unit. Thus, another component of the program is a drug-use-prevention component which guides parents on how to shield their kids from drug use throughout adolescence. This program will "…strengthen and clarify family expectations for behavior, enhance the conditions that promote bonding within the family, and teach skills that allow children to resist drug use successfully. GGC is based on research that shows that consistent, positive parental involvement is important to helping children resist substance use and other antisocial behaviors" (GGC, 2012). Thus, via interactive and skill-based sessions, parents have the opportunity to engage in new skills and to receive feedback, again using video-based vignettes. Too many parents don't understand how they're setting a bad example for their own children through their own recreational drug use, or how ineffective it is to simply say to children "don't use drugs." When it comes to drug use, the best response is one which is preventative, and which thwarts children from the temptation of using drugs based on real and consistent reasons as to why having a life without drugs is a good move for the future. This aspect of the program will explore in detail the necessity of teaching parents how to teach children about the very real biological and societal consequences of drug use, and how such consequences can be extremely detrimental to their health and well being. This aspect of the program needs to be designed in the most structured manner but should also have the freedom to be as creative as possible: for example, the program can include things like watching taped reflections of incarcerated drug users or watching taped reflections of reformed drug users on how using drugs forever changed their lives for the worse. Furthermore, the program will seek out interviews with famous athletes, musicians and celebrities who were former drug users and who are free, willing and able to discuss how using drugs was truly detrimental to their lives.
Another aspect of this program to improve parenting will revolve around a component which just revolves around positive action. This might seem like it's inconsequential, but enough studies have demonstrated the inherent benefit in bolstering student learning and well-being through focusing on aspects like behavior and character -- aspects which make a student's behavior more relevant for their entire lives (Flay & Allred, 2010). As some experts have demonstrated, comprehensive skills for successful learning and living are generally intertwined: this means that behavioral, emotional and academic factors are generally intertwined and that a facet like the Positive Action Program can be beneficial (Flay & Allred, 2010).
Such a program component will be implemented through a wide range of training materials for schools, families, and communities and its content will be based on three fundamental elements: a philosophy, the thoughts-actions-feelings circle and six discontent units of content (Flay & Allred, 2010). In addition, such a program will also contain a classroom curriculum from Pre-K to grade 12, kits for school preparation and teacher training, along with school-wide development of climate, a counselor's kit, along with parent and community involvement (Flay & Allred, 2010). Such a program harnesses the importance of research-supported strategies and methods of education and behavior such as active learning, positive classroom management, along with social and emotional behavioral/learning skills development in conjunction with role play, and with the presence of a detailed curriculum to support it (Flay & Allred, 2010). All of these methodologies generally rest on the following philosophy about the human condition: "…people determine their self-concepts by what they do; that actions, more than thoughts or feelings, determine self-concept; and that making positive and healthy behavioral choices results in feelings of self-worth/esteem" (Flay & Allred, 2010). This is connected to the fact that when people feel more positive about themselves, they act in a more positive manner towards other people: feeling good about themselves acts as the foundational springboard for treating other people well and with dignity.
While this might seem obvious to some, or as if it is a general no-brainer, the reality is that many parents aren't aware of how important it is to instill their kids with a certain level of positivity: these are essentially the building blocks of self-worth. "You feel good about yourself when you do positive actions and there is always a positive way to do everything. The Thoughts -- Actions -- Feelings about self circle illustrates this self-reinforcing process that is taught to students; showing them that thoughts lead to actions, actions lead to feelings about the self, and feelings about self lead to more thoughts. The circle can be positive or negative" (Flay & Allred, 2010). This is such a simple dynamic that is so true on so many levels with both children and adults: however, so…[continue]
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