The Parent Connectors Program
This is a training video for the Parent Connectors program. Parent Connectors is a mentoring program where veteran parents of youth with behavioral needs encourage and support parents of current middle school students with emotional or behavioral issues. This support is delivered via weekly phone calls to help parents gain the perspective of another parent that has “walked in their shoes”. The primary focus is to encourage parents to be involved in their child’s school, education, and any needed mental health services.
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[00:00:05.050]Welcome back to the training.
[00:00:07.145]As you've heard many times, the goal of the PC program
[00:00:10.537]is to assist parents of youth with behavioral challenges
[00:00:15.129]to become fully engaged as partners with the school
[00:00:21.118]and social service system.
[00:00:24.898]But how are you gonna do that?
[00:00:26.647]How are you gonna assist parents?
[00:00:28.556]The PC program uses three processes.
[00:00:33.924]One of those process is for you to deliver informational
[00:00:37.962]support, which is information.
[00:00:40.687]Not only about concrete resources like help with electricity
[00:00:44.928]bills, heating bills, but also information about the
[00:00:48.770]social services out there to support families and
[00:00:52.333]information about the causes and services available
[00:00:56.960]for children with emotional and behavioral challenges.
[00:01:01.795]The heart of the Parent Connector program, of course,
[00:01:06.398]is developing a positive attitude toward engagement
[00:01:10.055]in parents as they begin their journey with the school
[00:01:13.821]and social service system.
[00:01:16.216]We really have to support and build these positive
[00:01:20.568]attitudes about engaging in services.
[00:01:24.511]The last process in the Parent Connectors program is
[00:01:29.999]And that's what we're gonna spend our time on today.
[00:01:32.864]So I'm gonna turn it over to Al who's gonna talk about
[00:01:40.241]I'm going to be referring a lot to this fantastic
[00:01:43.909]handout on emotional support.
[00:01:46.616]And I do have to say that this was really an idea of
[00:01:51.557]We were having such a hard time figuring out how we
[00:01:54.246]want to convey emotional support and worked and worked
[00:01:58.099]and worked and Kristen came up with this.
[00:02:00.902]So we call this the three pillars of emotional support.
[00:02:04.218]You see that there are really three elements to all that;
[00:02:08.397]stigma, blame, and stress.
[00:02:12.077]Now, if you remember in the first video that you saw
[00:02:17.293]where Kristen and I introduced ourselves I spent a little
[00:02:20.674]time telling you a little bit about my story,
[00:02:23.915]giving you some self-disclosure about my travels with
[00:02:28.593]my way through the emotional challenges of one of our
[00:02:34.403]children and it really brought back to me again,
[00:02:40.898]and still, think about the stresses and the feelings
[00:02:45.901]of blame, even though it was relatively long ago,
[00:02:52.007]So we know that in our training we really need to
[00:02:57.288]hit on this idea that, as a parent connector,
[00:03:00.926]you are going to be working hard to help reduce the feelings
[00:03:06.122]of stigma, reduce the feelings of blame,
[00:03:09.493]and to help reduce the stresses that the families have
[00:03:15.567]in dealing with a child who has emotional challenges.
[00:03:20.279]So that's what this session is all about.
[00:03:23.165]And we really feel that that emotional support is like
[00:03:28.836]a kind of bedrock issue with the whole training.
[00:03:33.547]You will note when you look more closely at the family
[00:03:38.475]contact log, it's the very first item that you check off.
[00:03:43.647]In other words, every call be sure and say,
[00:03:48.885]"It's not your fault, you're not to blame,"
[00:03:52.568]and that, "Yes, I did give emotional support to the family."
[00:03:56.655]so that, again, highlights how important we feel this
[00:04:02.529]whole process is.
[00:04:04.449]Because, as you know, once the family is feeling this
[00:04:10.773]lack of support and the stigma and feeling the blame,
[00:04:15.096]then that leads to isolation, social isolation,
[00:04:19.165]and then how in the world are they going to be engaged
[00:04:21.709]with their teachers, with their counselors,
[00:04:26.186]mental health personnel who are trying to help
[00:04:29.890]It's real easy to retreat into that isolation.
[00:04:33.365]And then that's going to be your job to prevent that
[00:04:36.651]from happening, to lessen it.
[00:04:39.395]And then one of the key approaches will be for you to
[00:04:43.264]provide and supply emotional support.
[00:04:46.827]So what do we do? What's it all about?
[00:04:51.904]Well first of all we really feel there's a need for this
[00:04:56.252]because, like it or not, we have to admit that in our
[00:05:01.318]culture, even today after all of the TV shows, the movies,
[00:05:05.677]and the celebrities and elected officials who have talked
[00:05:10.871]about a family member with emotional problems,
[00:05:15.111]there still is a stigma involved.
[00:05:18.833]You just don't feel the way you do when a family member
[00:05:24.141]has diabetes or cancer.
[00:05:26.530]Having a mental health issue is very different and it
[00:05:30.409]just is not as accepted in our society.
[00:05:35.325]So we need to help families overcome this.
[00:05:39.059]And then given this stigma, what do we do to help
[00:05:46.562]What's the strategy?
[00:05:48.785]And when we introduced ourselves to you in that first
[00:05:52.915]video what I did was I really immediately went to
[00:05:57.487]self-disclosure and said, "Hey, yeah I'm a researcher,
[00:06:02.942]"and we do things at the research and training center,
[00:06:06.247]"but I'm also a parent of a child who has had a fairly
[00:06:10.035]"serious emotional disability."
[00:06:13.461]And in the course of my career and the work that we've
[00:06:18.333]done I've really realized how critical it is when that
[00:06:22.712]self-disclosure comes out and the kind of acceptance
[00:06:26.696]that suddenly emerges.
[00:06:29.477]So you're going to be talking to people who don't know you,
[00:06:33.361]who have never seen you and are gonna talk to you on
[00:06:36.003]the telephone and when you convey to them that,
[00:06:40.610]"You know, I have a child very similar to yours,"
[00:06:43.400]there's gonna be a kind of wow experience on the other
[00:06:47.306]end of that line of the parent you're talking with
[00:06:52.611]saying, "Really? Your child has that?"
[00:06:55.688]So I like to say in the training that when you're stuck,
[00:07:03.957]your kind of ace in the hole is always going to be
[00:07:07.912]your own story, your own self-disclosure.
[00:07:10.565]That's going to get you out of a bind of when you feel
[00:07:14.291]you don't know what to say.
[00:07:16.748]So self-disclosure is a critical strategy to use
[00:07:20.386]for you to help reducing the stigma.
[00:07:24.499]So the next part, the next pillar in this whole dramatic
[00:07:29.315]series is dealing with blame.
[00:07:33.450]It's so easy for families to blame themselves.
[00:07:38.366]And, uh, why do they do it?
[00:07:42.852]Well because everybody else blames them.
[00:07:46.521]And even though we have told you and in the
[00:07:51.738]Parent Connector manual we point out these old theories
[00:07:55.832]of blaming parents, particularly the mother, unfortunately,
[00:08:00.512]have really been discredited and what can we say?
[00:08:07.025]I was taught this when I was in graduate school long ago.
[00:08:12.755]Fortunately the theories began to lose their strength
[00:08:18.756]and new research demonstrated that they really couldn't
[00:08:24.318]The unfortunate thing is not all professionals in our
[00:08:27.303]field have gotten that message.
[00:08:30.156]Teachers, even some social workers, mental health workers
[00:08:34.645]still adopt these old ideas that,
[00:08:38.735]"Show me a child who has problems and I'll show you
[00:08:42.769]"a family that has been messing them up and has
[00:08:48.190]That is just not true.
[00:08:50.424]You need to really reinforce that terrible way,
[00:08:54.489]so to speak, to the family that,
[00:08:57.413]"No, you're not to blame."
[00:08:59.985]What causes emotional problems and mental health?
[00:09:03.356]Well we know it's really complicated.
[00:09:05.988]There are a lot of factors contributing to it.
[00:09:10.008]But we know that it's not as simple as saying,
[00:09:13.082]"Well here's a child who has an emotional problem,
[00:09:16.024]"that mother did something wrong in the bringing up
[00:09:18.590]"of that child."
[00:09:19.973]That is not true, that doesn't hold any scientific value
[00:09:24.653]and you need to encourage family members to embrace that,
[00:09:31.782]And if you feel they're not convinced,
[00:09:34.410]direct them to the internet, let them go onto the websites
[00:09:38.403]that we've recommended in our Parent Connector manual
[00:09:43.985]to really see for themselves that, yes,
[00:09:46.808]that just doesn't hold water anymore.
[00:09:50.328]So that's the strategy you want to use to try to
[00:09:54.570]reduce this blame.
[00:09:56.360]You're going to try to let families know that the
[00:10:00.719]causes of emotional problems and mental health issues
[00:10:04.593]are pretty complicated.
[00:10:06.635]And in other sessions in training our coaches and
[00:10:11.151]trainers are going to go into more detail with these
[00:10:13.867]particular emotional disturbances and particular issues.
[00:10:18.987]So you'll hear more about that.
[00:10:21.188]Or you may have already, depending on how the sequence
[00:10:25.224]of how the training goes.
[00:10:28.895]So that's the strategy to try to help them reduce blame.
[00:10:37.439]So at this time it might be a good idea to kind of
[00:10:40.703]role play some of these ideas Al was talking about,
[00:10:46.583]This is, needs practice, I think and let's role play it.
[00:10:52.127]I'll be the parent and Al will be the PC and is that
[00:10:56.992]acceptable with you, Al?
[00:10:59.275]Okay, yeah, let's try it.
[00:11:00.914]Okay so I'm going to be calling you.
[00:11:02.913](mimics phone ringing)
[00:11:06.827]Hi, Kris, this is Al.
[00:11:10.510]From Parent Connector.
[00:11:12.261]Hey Al, how you doing?
[00:11:13.721]I'm doing fine, but more importantly how are you doing?
[00:11:15.317]Well the school is constantly calling me,
[00:11:19.669]leaving messages, I can't pick up the phone.
[00:11:22.009]But they keep calling adamant that I better do something
[00:11:25.241]about Johnny, he's acting up, "You better do something,
[00:11:27.621]"you've got to come in the school and Al I'm at my wits end,
[00:11:33.065]"I don't know what to do."
[00:11:34.896]Sounds to me like you're very frustrated over this
[00:11:37.981]and in those situations, I'll tell you,
[00:11:42.834]I know what you're going through, I know what you're
[00:11:45.925]talking about because I've been there.
[00:11:50.411]And the first thought that I used to get was,
[00:11:53.911]"Geeze, why can't I be a better parent?
[00:11:57.530]"What am I doing wrong? Why can't I--"
[00:11:59.639]And I used to read some pamphlets and things and
[00:12:02.881]Good Parenting and all that kind of stuff.
[00:12:06.201]And I wasn't doing it because I'm probably not that
[00:12:09.077]good at it.
[00:12:10.773]That's exactly, I'm feeling like I'm not doing something
[00:12:13.102]I should be doing.
[00:12:15.152]You know, let's step back a little bit and talk about
[00:12:18.295]what's going on here.
[00:12:19.931]Johnny is really doing what kids who have his issues do.
[00:12:25.757]He's acting out, he's probably bored to tears in class
[00:12:29.825]or some other kid is egging him on.
[00:12:33.883]And there are a bunch of things that are going on that
[00:12:36.855]are making you do that, not your poor parenting.
[00:12:42.400]You're not there, you're far away at home.
[00:12:45.519]Yeah but I should do something at home so he doesn't
[00:12:47.957]do that at school.
[00:12:49.706]I mean, that's the impression I'm getting.
[00:12:52.774]Well, that's where working together with your teacher
[00:12:54.826]comes in and that's why you've got to start getting
[00:12:58.527]that feeling that, "Look, it's not my fault and I haven't
[00:13:02.351]"caused this, there are people around who are wanting
[00:13:06.461]"to help me and willing to help me," and you know I've
[00:13:09.631]been trying to get you in there a little more or a little
[00:13:13.126]more involved with the teacher and this is a perfect
[00:13:15.893]opportunity for why you should do that.
[00:13:19.051]But Al, look at you, when you walk in that school the
[00:13:21.582]secretaries, the other teachers, they look at me like
[00:13:23.989]there's something wrong with me.
[00:13:26.060]I know they haven't gotten the message that it isn't
[00:13:29.141]your fault, but here's how you're going to bring
[00:13:34.196]You're going to go in there you're going to keep your
[00:13:36.564]head held high and you are going to meet with the teacher
[00:13:39.457]and let the teacher know that you sincerely care and
[00:13:43.055]love your son and you know that she's a good teacher
[00:13:48.021]and you also know that she has some good ideas and
[00:13:50.789]some things that you can do at home.
[00:13:54.860]And it may even turn out that you might make a suggestion
[00:13:58.167]to her that she might like too.
[00:14:02.171]And this is how you're going to bring that about.
[00:14:04.683]Because that teacher's going to start telling the secretary
[00:14:07.611]and the other people, "Kris is not that bad and Johnny's
[00:14:11.368]"a handful, let's face it.
[00:14:14.169]"Would any of you like him to be in your house?"
[00:14:16.876]And that's what's going to happen.
[00:14:20.205]So that's where we're going to go from here.
[00:14:22.295]So step one you're going to make an appointment to meet
[00:14:24.595]with that teacher, okay?
[00:14:26.507]That's fabulous, just hearing your support and saying
[00:14:29.111]it's not my fault has made a big difference and I
[00:14:33.427]So I'm gonna get on that phone and make the appointment
[00:14:35.445]and I'll look forward to talking to you next week.
[00:14:37.645]So same time next week?
[00:14:41.875]Al, another topic we've heard from a lot of parents we've
[00:14:45.211]talked to, and we've talked to a lot of parents over
[00:14:47.790]the years and really listened to their concern,
[00:14:49.952]is they have a lot of stress in their life.
[00:14:53.467]Not only the normal stresses of working,
[00:14:55.871]taking care of your house, but also the stress of helping
[00:15:00.241]a child with emotional behavioral challenges.
[00:15:04.857]Do you have some suggestions on how a PC can help
[00:15:08.206]a parent deal with those stressors?
[00:15:12.259]Sure, and again, as a PC you're going to know that
[00:15:17.259]you've been there too and you've felt that stress and
[00:15:19.745]maybe you're still feeling some now, too.
[00:15:22.278]So what do you do?
[00:15:24.070]Well what we've learned is one of the strategies to help
[00:15:29.477]a parent out is to try to (mumbles) a little more
[00:15:33.645]systematic problem solving, like in the role play that
[00:15:38.109]we did earlier.
[00:15:39.667]The parent was really flustered because so many things
[00:15:45.824]were going on with the parent,
[00:15:47.630]"The teacher feels that I'm no good and my child's
[00:15:50.227]"doing this," and a whole host of things.
[00:15:52.771]But wait a minute, let's figure out how we can go
[00:15:57.108]We can develop a strategy of how we're going to change
[00:16:00.608]how the secretary views the mom when she comes in,
[00:16:04.976]how the teacher works with the mom.
[00:16:07.394]The parent is going to listen to some of the suggestions
[00:16:12.749]from the teacher and maybe make some herself.
[00:16:17.213]This is problem solving skills.
[00:16:20.691]And when stress is really operating problem solving
[00:16:25.435]skills are very hampered.
[00:16:28.322]So that's what we've got to do, figure out where to go.
[00:16:31.253]And one of the top ways is to develop more systematic
[00:16:35.050]and more effective problem solving skills.
[00:16:38.929]Now, another issue that's overlooked so much for family
[00:16:44.400]members who have a child who has emotional and mental
[00:16:48.333]health problems is really self care.
[00:16:52.142]Yeah, you need to take care of yourself.
[00:16:56.736]You are stressed out, what are you going to do?
[00:16:59.362]And what we are suggestion and what the parent connector
[00:17:04.503]is going to be suggestion is to do something good
[00:17:08.970]And the first thing that parent is going to feel is guilt.
[00:17:12.053]"What? I'm going to do this?
[00:17:14.195]"I'm gonna get my nails done when everything's
[00:17:19.328]Yes, you need to do some things that are going to
[00:17:24.663]help you so that you can reduce that stress and engage
[00:17:28.889]in good problem solving skills.
[00:17:32.113]So whatever it is, that's what a parent connector
[00:17:35.835]needs to explore.
[00:17:37.714]Explore with the family and with the parent what are
[00:17:41.493]some of the things that you do, that you do want to
[00:17:45.269]try to do?
[00:17:46.559]And there may be some misuse of economics,
[00:17:49.092]not everybody is gonna be able to have a spa day
[00:17:52.098]or something like that, but fortunately there are some
[00:17:55.777]other things that people can do and want to do,
[00:17:58.965]would like to do that are real costly.
[00:18:02.187]But for many mothers self care things like getting
[00:18:06.008]your hair done, getting your nails done,
[00:18:09.239]those are things that are really helpful and if they
[00:18:12.503]can fit it in they should do that and not feel
[00:18:15.540]guilty about it.
[00:18:17.472]Don't forget, also, about keeping in relatively good shape.
[00:18:21.700]You need to get out and take a little walk.
[00:18:24.471]You don't have to join a gym, you don't have to go to
[00:18:27.068]the gym, but taking maybe a half hour walk every day,
[00:18:31.973]we know the research on that.
[00:18:35.097]It's a tremendous help to a person.
[00:18:37.382]So you need to get the parent to start engaging in good
[00:18:43.008]self care for themselves for the benefit of their child
[00:18:47.661]and their family.
[00:18:48.927]So these are the kinds of strategies that a parent
[00:18:53.711]connector is going to be promoting in the family
[00:18:58.222]and the whole process, these three pillars,
[00:19:01.798]all rest on what basically is affirmational support.
[00:19:07.700]All of this translates to, "You're a good person,
[00:19:11.939]"you really need to get praised every now and then.
[00:19:17.339]"As a parent connector I am going to validate you that
[00:19:21.000]"you are a good parent, you're trying your best.
[00:19:24.421]"Sure you make some mistakes, so does everybody,
[00:19:27.235]"so did I and that's okay."
[00:19:30.303]But every session you need, as a parent connector,
[00:19:35.747]to do this, to give this kind of affirmation to the
[00:19:39.182]parent because I guarantee you they're not getting
[00:19:43.519]much of it--
[00:19:45.902]In their life.
[00:19:47.265]And so this is what you're going to have to do.
[00:19:48.993]Well Kristen I guess we're ready to turn the parent
[00:19:52.705]connectors over back to the coach.
[00:19:56.410]That was excellent, Al, the emotional support.
[00:19:59.267]So many parent support programs offer it and the parent
[00:20:04.185]connector program kind of defines it in three pillars,
[00:20:09.516]And those three pillars again are?
[00:20:12.039]Well the first one is stigma, we're trying to help
[00:20:16.023]families overcome stigma and it's there and it's real.
[00:20:18.918]We try our best as a society, but stigma is there.
[00:20:22.890]Then there's the blame, "What did I do wrong?
[00:20:26.606]"I'm a bad parent, why am I doing this?"
[00:20:29.482]And families need to understand that no you're not the
[00:20:34.089]cause of this problem, it's more complicated than that.
[00:20:37.587]And then finally you need to be involved in something that's
[00:20:41.665]gonna reduce the stress that occurs in trying to raise
[00:20:45.711]a child with emotional problems.
[00:20:48.279]And you'll do that through becoming a better problem
[00:20:51.785]solver and taking care of yourself and doing some things
[00:20:55.864]that are gonna reduce that.
[00:20:57.991]So all of those together are gonna lead to an improvement
[00:21:01.953]in what's going on in that family.
[00:21:04.659]So if we take care of those three pillars through
[00:21:07.630]that affirmational support parents are more likely
[00:21:13.543]Well we've enjoyed spending some time with you,
[00:21:15.771]we'll turn it over to your on-site trainers.
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