"Parents First" is a preventive intervention designed to be delivered in ordinary educational and childcare settings. The program provides mental health consultation to staff members and families, as reflective parenting workshops. The workshops include a series of reflective exercises conducted across a 12-week period, and the exercises are presented in a fixed sequence according to graded levels of difficulty. Family activities intended to promote parental mentalizing also are prescribed as between-workshop exercises. The graded series of exercises begins with having parents simply watch their children's behaviour and talk about what they observe. Next they are encouraged to interpret the basis of their child's behaviour in terms of desires, emotions, and thoughts. Then, moving to another level of complexity, parents are helped to appriciate the cennection between their own state of mind and their child's experiecne - for example, considering the impact of their emotions and expectations on the child's own experience of self. In a related vein, they are made aware of differences in perspective as these are evident, for example, in disagreements between them and their children. All these steps set the stage for supporting the parents' capacity to mentalize in emotionally charged moments. In the last stage of workshop, the sheer complexities of mentalizing in parent-child relationships are addressed. Parents' attention is drawn to ambivalence, limitation in mindreading capacity, and the productivity for parents and children to misinterpret each other's intentions.
"Parents First" is intended primarily to cultivate mentalizing capacity for the purpose of promotin general competence rather than to help parents solve specific parenting problems. Parents who are disinclined to reflect, however, are inclined to seek practical advice regarding specific problems with their children. Published in "Mentalizing in Clinical Practice" by Jon G.Allen, Peter Fonagy, Anthony W.Bateman p.294-295 References - Slade Arietta.: Reflective parenting program: theory and development. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 26:640-657,2006
Information Sessions: Reflect to Connect. Think your child’s school, your local community center, or group of parents could benefit from hearing more about our programs? We’re happy to come to you. Contact the Center for Reflective Parenting to schedule a “Reflect to Connect” information session introducing the mindful and reflective parenting approach.
Reflective Parenting Programs are an innovative 10-week workshop series that engages groups of 6-10 parents in a more in-depth experiential learning process. Each week includes instruction, discussions and exercises to involve parents in topics such as temperament, responding to children’s distress, separation, play, discipline, and anger as they relate to issues in their own families. The workshops enable parents prenatally through their child’s adolescence to discover new ways to think about the links between behavior, feelings, and actions, while learning strategies and techniques designed to enhance their reflective functioning. Parents will begin to recognize how their capacity for reflection can serve as a powerful tool toward building stronger and more satisfying relationships. This skill helps children to feel more secure in the parent-child relationship and provides families with tools that will be critical to the child’s developing capacity to form and maintain intimate, mutual, and supportive relationships in the future.
Mindful Parenting Groups are a weekly experiential, interactive group designed to enhance parents’ capacity to “read” their babies’ and/or toddlers’ cues and communications. Each group creates the conditions for parents to experience, cultivate, and practice the art of mindful curiosity about their own and their infant’s experience. This mindful approach is shown to increase parents’ reflective capacity, which in turn supports secure parent-infant attachment and healthy child development. Group meetings commonly address practical concerns about behavioral and emotional issues typical of infants and toddlers, such as sleeping, eating, motor development, social interactions, separations, fears, and tantrums, while also providing parents with opportunities to reflect on their history and expectations of parenthood.