Workshop teaches skills to stay connected - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

Workshop teaches skills to stay connected

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Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 12:08 pm

Deployments can be a stressful time, especially for families with young children. That’s why Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s New Parent Support Program (NPSP) and Families Overcoming Under Stress (FOCUS) program are teaming up for a free workshop for military parents on Friday.

The workshop, called Staying Connected, is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday in Classroom B, Building 208 on Bancroft Street on Marine Corps Air Station New River. The interactive program is geared toward parents of children between birth and 3 years old who are facing upcoming deployments or separations.

NPSP employees came up with the program after seeing a void that needed filled.

“We were seeing a lot of families with kids under 3 who were having separations coming up,” said Alyson Nowicki, a licensed clinical social worker and home visitor with the NPSP. “We identified there was kind of a gap.”

The program will be primarily comprised of hands-on activities parents can take home with them for times that deployment stress picks up.

“These are activities they can put into action immediately,” said Elizabeth Shott, a licensed professional counselor and home visitor with the NPSP.

Nowicki and Shott see the activities as forms of self-care. Parents are doing something for themselves in a healthy way.

“This is for the parents,” Shott said. “Of course military life is very busy and packed with lots of activity. Sometimes it’s important to just carve out some specific time to be intentional and think about what we can do to make transitions better.”

One such activity is what Shott calls a prickly day plan.

“A prickly day is a day when everything seems to not be going well,” Shott said. “A prickly day plan would be setting aside some activities that, when you recognize there’s a high stress level, you take that time to have humor and some fun. It’s giving parents permission to kind of put the rules aside and … go have fun together. It’s about enjoying each other.”

The plan also helps parents see what their child might need on their own prickly days. During a deployment, that means the parent at home can head off tantrums or other incidents that might add a level of stress to the entire family.

Another activity for children who move around more is blowing bubbles.

“It lets the kids run around and get some energy out,” Nowicki said. “It also encourages parents to take deep breaths.”

“With older children, you can help them visualize blowing away their bad feelings,” Shott added.

The workshop will present a wide array of more hands-on activities as well. The emphasis is never to make parents feel insecure about their abilities but to provide them with a network of support to make transitions and separation easier.

“I was a military child myself,” Shott said. “I’ve experienced the separations and know the child’s perspective. That’s something I bring to the table.”

NPSP and FOCUS staff are also prepared to answer any questions parents might have about deployments in general. Videos and research will be provided for parents interested in the tangible science behind child development.

The goal, as with many NPSP programs, is self-care and connection among parents.

“We want them (new parents) to take care of themselves,” Nowicki said. “When you get home from deployment, your child will have changed and you may have changed too. That doesn’t mean you’re not still a valid member of the family.”

Parents can register for the Staying Connected Workshop online at www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/npsp.

For more information on FOCUS, call 450-5631 or go online to www.focusproject.org.

For more information on NPSP, call 449-9826.

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