THE STRENGTHENING FAMILIES PROGRAM, SFP7-17

Summary of Parents Lessons

with a brief summary of the Children's & Teen's lessons, the Family Practice Session, and the Risk & Protective Factors addressed in each lesson.

Note: There are 14 lessons -- 11 main lessons and 3 review lessons. If an agency needs to teach SFP in only 10 sessions, they can combine Lessons 8 and 9 without missing key skills.

Introduction Lesson:

SUMMARY: Parents learn how SFP lessons teach the skills of Bonding, Boundaries, and Monitoring to help families develop happy relationships and keep kids alcohol and drug free; how the brain develops and can be influenced by learning and practice; and the importance of nutritious family dinners to create good brain health and family bonding. SKILLS include giving positive attention to children during 10-15 minutes of one-on-one play time daily (called "My Time"); and recognizing and replacing Automatic Negative Thoughts. (The skill of Mindfulness is also introduced during the dinner portion of SFP -- with an optional short dinner-time lesson on Mindfulness included in each weekly lesson.)

Risk factors addressed:

  • Faulty Perceptions
  • Family Attachment
  • Perceived Risk of Drug or Alcohol Use

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on the power they have to direct the development of their own brains by what they think, say, do, or listen to; eating brain-healthy food and recognizing and replacing Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) to create a healthier brain; and the importance of contributing to happy family relationships. They brainstorm ideas for "My Time."

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION (as parents and youth join together for the last hour): The class brainstorms ideas for "My Time" and each family decides times for holding it. Families decorate a Family Conversation Jar to use during their family dinners and insert question slips from the Conversation Jar handout. They review the ANTs handout -- Automatic Negative Thoughts -- to use at home if needed. Family Practice sessions close by all linking arms to form a Family Circle and repeating the SFP Family Motto: "We are strong and loving families who take time to Bond, set Boundaries, and Monitor so that our children become their highest and

Lesson 1 -- Noticing and Complimenting the Good Daily

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn that the best way to change behavior is through noticing and complimenting the good, and ignoring minor annoying behavior. They learn how to give "Reinforcing Compliments" -- sincere, specific compliments that reinforces good behavior. They practice the "40 Phrases that Praise" from the handout to get used to saying positive things. They are encouraged to avoid criticizing and keep a 4-1 ratio of positive comments to negative ones. They practice Instant Stress Busters to help them stay calm.

Risk and Protective Factors addressed:

  • Family Attachment
  • Family Bonding
  • Increased Social Skills

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on learning to notice and compliment the good in others; avoid criticizing family members; and practicing instant Stress Busters to stay calm. They also learn how to receive a compliment graciously.

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Families practice the skills of noticing the good in each other and giving "Reinforcing Compliments" during role-play situations. They prepare their tracking sheet handouts to record their compliments at home. They commit to cease criticizing each other, and they all practice three Instant Stress Busters to stay calm. They end by repeating the SFP Motto during the Closing Circle.

Lesson 2 -- Communication and Fun Family Meetings

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn to use LUV Listening (Listen, Understand, Validate) and "I-Messages" when they speak, and to be assertive instead of aggressive or passive. They also learn to apologize when they make mistakes, hold weekly Family Meetings, and avoid throwing "Communication Boulders" -- like yelling, swearing, criticizing, put-downs, etc. when they speak to family members.

Risk and Protective Factors addressed:

  • Family Attachment
  • Family Bonding
  • Increased Social Skills

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on how to LUV listen to others, to use respectful "I-Messages" and to be assertive instead of aggressive. They learn what a Communication Boulder is, how it harms relationships, how to apologize, and the need to participate in family meetings.

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Families practice the skills of LUV Listening and using respectful "I-Messages" during role-play situations. They discuss the harm of Communication Boulders and sign a "Banishing the Boulders Agreement" handout. They practice holding a short Weekly Family Meeting using an SFP agenda and choose a set day and time to hold it. They receive the Apology and Forgiveness handouts to use when necessary.

Lesson 3 -- Rules, Rewards, and Responsibilities

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn the importance of Rules and write ideas for their family, which they will compare with their children's list during the Family Session. They learn that Rewards are the most effective means of changing children's behavior, and Social Rewards, or praise, are the best. They begin setting up a Rewards system, using things their children already get for free, like TV or video time. They learn the importance of Responsibilities to help children develop self-esteem; and receive SFP Chore Charts to fill out at home during the week to help this process.

Risk and Protective Factors addressed:

  • Poor Family Management
  • Clear rules and expectations
  • Family Attachment
  • Bonding to family with clear standards

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on the need for family rules and brainstorm ideas for rules they would want as parents. They list rewards they would like to receive for good behavior, and set up an effective Homework Routine -- which they will do in the Family Session.

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Parents and children compare their ideas for Family Rules, decide on some they agree on and write them on a draft copy of their "My Family Rules!" handout. They discuss ideas for Rewards, decide on some their children would like to receive, and list them on the Rewarding Rewards handout. They will receive a Rewards Jar and a Rewards Spinner, and children will choose a Rewards Tracking Chart for the week. Families will discuss the need for everyone to share in family Responsibilities, and will review the SFP Chore Chart which they will fill out during the week.

Lesson 4 -- Limits and Consequences

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn the skill of Positive Discipline vs. Punishment; how to use Positive Practice to teach the behaviors they want; how to "graduate" consequences from mild to severe to fit the offense; that mild, short consequences work best, and how to give consequences calmly. They learn the most effective consequences and prepare for the Family Session where together they will choose consequences for breaking family rules. They make a "Chore Jar" and practice "giving and receiving consequences calmly" during role-plays.

Risk and Protective Factors addressed:

  • Clear limits
  • Positive Discipline model (not lax or harsh)
  • Consistent enforcement of discipline
  • Rebelliousness

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on ways to develop Impulse Control, the importance of Positive Practice to become their best self, and help decide on consequences for misbehavior that they think is fair, which they will share with their parents during the Family Session. They also practice receiving a negative consequence calmly.

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Children share the three new skills they just learned in class:

a) Follow Instructions; b) Accept ‘No' Nicely; c) Stay Calm in Consequences. Families review the 7 Steps of Positive Discipline; choose a warning cue, and role-play using Positive Practice as the consequence for a misbehavior. The group brainstorms ideas for consequences for Minor, Medium, and Major Offenses, and families decide on and write their consequences on their handout. Families role-play "staying calm" while giving or receiving Consequences, and prepare handouts to track staying calm this week.

Lesson 5 -- Problem Solving and Win-Win Negotiation

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn and practice the steps of effective problem solving and "win-win" negotiation using the SFP handouts. They learn to train their children to "Pre-Problem Solve" by helping them identify possible sources of trouble they may get asked to participate in, list them on the handout, identify them as anti-social behavior, and practice ways to say "No." This will help children learn critical thinking skills as well as belief in a moral order.

Risk and Protective Factors addressed:

  • Problem solving
  • Belief in a moral order
  • Good decision making skills
  • Good refusal skills
  • Pre-Problem Solving to avoid negative, anti-social behavior

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on the steps of problem solving and how to do it in real life. They also learn the skill of Pre-problem Solving which is looking ahead at behaviors that could cause them problems; and practice the 5-Cs Refusal Skill to say "no" to trouble.

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Families practice the skill of Problem-Solving using the handout to solve an imaginary family problem; and share results with the class. Parents lead children through an exercise of Pre-Problem Solving, which is thinking ahead of problem-causing behaviors that children may be asked to participate in; identifying the negative consequences that might occur, and practice saying "No" to anti-social behaviors using the 5-C's Refusal Technique. Families review the Win-Win Negotiation handout for home use.

Lesson 6 -- Stress and Anger Management Skills

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn to identify the causes of stress in their lives and ways to reduce it, including setting up effective routines and learning how to trigger a Relaxation Response. They also learn how uncontrolled anger damages relationships, to notice and track their anger triggers and cues, and learn techniques to identify and re-program their brains with pro-social responses to anger stimuli.

Risk factors addressed:

  • Family Conflict
  • Stress management
  • Good anger management
  • Increase in Social skills

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on identifying things that cause them stress and brainstorm ways to reduce it -- including setting up effective routines. They also learn why uncontrolled anger damages relationships, and learn to identify and track their anger responses, and how to program their brain with new, better responses to things that make them angry.

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Families practice stress reduction techniques to trigger a Relaxation Response. They practice "Stepping Out of Anger" to reprogram their brain with pro-social responses, and ready their handouts to track their anger responses in the coming week.

Lesson 7 -- Contracts and Goals to Change Behavior

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn how to help children set goals, and ways to help them change their behavior through a "Contract For Change" handout. They to give Positive Criticism and Deliver Difficult Feedback in a way that preserves loving family relationships. They also learn ways to help kids manage their time well, and succeed in school.

Risk factors addressed:

  • Parental involvement in the child's life
  • Poor classroom behavior
  • Low commitment to school
  • Academic failure

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on identifying their goals and dreams; and learning skills to create school success & achieve their dreams, including working on a Contract for Change. They learn how to give Positive Criticism and how to accept Criticism without getting offended.

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Families practice the skills learned in their classes: Goal setting, filling out a Contract for Change; setting up a Homework Routine, and how to give and receive Positive Criticism.

Lesson 8 -- How Alcohol and Drugs Hijack the Teen Brain

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn how alcohol and drugs harm the developing teen brain; and the three types of skills they need to help prevent underage use: Bonding, Boundaries, and Monitoring to see that teens always stay in an alcohol and drug-free social environment. They review the 5-Cs refusal skill (from Lesson 5) that helps kids say "No" to drinking or using drugs.

Risk factors addressed:

  • Parental attitudes favorable toward alcohol & drugs
  • Perceived risk of drug or alcohol use
  • High ATOD resistance skills

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on the harms that alcohol, tobacco, and drugs do to their still developing brain, and are encouraged to stay alcohol and drug free. Kids review the 5-Cs refusal skill from Lesson 5 that enables them to say "No" to anti-social behavior, like drinking underage or using drugs -- and still keep their friends

FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Families review the harms of underage drinking and drug use and agree to watch the SFP Home-Use DVD Lesson 8 together at home. They practice the 5-C's refusal skill and decide on "one-liners" they could use if asked to use alcohol or drugs. They review and sign Pledge Cards -- with youth committing not to use, and parents committing to use the skills of Bonding, Setting Boundaries, and Monitoring to help keep their kids alcohol and drug free.

Lesson 9 -- Choosing Good Friends and Monitoring Kids' Activities

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn to help kids identify and choose good friends; and to ask questions and actively monitor their activities to see they always stay in an alcohol/ drug-free social environment. They are also coached in the skills of talking to their kids' friends parents to share their no alcohol or drugs rules and ask for help in monitoring and planning fun alcohol and drug-free activities.

Risk factors addressed:

  • Parental Monitoring
  • Increase in Social skills
  • Bonding to peers with healthy beliefs & standards
  • Interaction with Antisocial or Drug-Using Peers

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on identifying and choosing good friends who will help them be their best self and stay alcohol and drug free -- and also how THEY can be that good friend and help their friends stay alcohol and drug free too. They learn social skills to cultivate friendships; and discuss ways to plan alcohol-free fun with friends FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Families discuss and choose appropriate curfews for school nights and week-ends. They review the 5-C's refusal skill and use it while kids role-play being a good example, with their parents as negative peers. Youth discuss the "Choosing and Becoming a Good Friend" handout with their parents, and provide their friends' names and contact info. Parents practice asking the 5-W Questions to their children; and also role-play talking to their kids' friends' parents about monitoring and their "No Alcohol or Drugs" rule.

Lesson 10 -- Values, Traditions, and Service

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents learn the importance of fun family Traditions and happy family Rituals to help create family bonding, which makes kids less likely to use alcohol and drugs. They are encouraged to teach children to appreciate the many benefits they receive from society, and the importance of them doing service to give back. Parents identify and write down their four most important values and prepare to share them with their children during the Family Session.

Risk factors addressed:

  • Opportunities for Pro-social Involvement
  • Belief in the Moral Order
  • Healthy beliefs and clear standards
  • Strong neighborhood attachment

CHILD/TEEN LESSONS focus on the benefits society provides them, and the importance of giving service to say "thanks." They learn how the brain is hardwired to give them feelings of pleasure when they do pro-social behaviors, and how pro-social values help them feel happier. They also learn that they have the power, through their choices to become a positive "agent of FAMILY PRACTICE SESSION: Families discuss and choose one new Family Tradition or happy family Ritual. Families brainstorm ideas for service; and parents and children discuss their family values and make a Values Shield to display at home listing their 4 top family

Lesson 11 -- Keeping the Changes We've Made

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents and children meet together to review and practice five key SFP skills that will enable them to keep the positive changes they've made. These skills are presented in categories of Bonding, setting Boundaries, and Monitoring. The five skills are: 1) Communicate with LUV and kindness; 2) Have "My Time" regularly; 3) Use Positive Discipline; 4) Hold a Weekly Family Meeting; 5) Monitor their kids' activities to see that they always stay in an alcohol and drug-free social environment. Families rate themselves on how well they are doing in each skill; and then plan how they can improve. NOTE: If this is the last lesson, a Graduation Ceremony is also included.

Risk factors addressed:

  • Anti-social beliefs, attitudes and behavior
  • Healthy beliefs and clear standards
  • Family attachment

Lesson 12 -- Reducing Family Conflict

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents and children meet together to review and practice 6 key SFP skills they learned over the course of the class will help them reduce family conflict. They are: 1. Respect others as equals with a win-win attitude; 2. Communicate calmly; 3. Express appreciation and compliments daily; 4. Discipline positively; 5. Look for ways to be kind and helpful; 6. Examine your Hot Thoughts or "Grievance Stories" when you find yourself becoming angry.

Risk factors addressed:

  • Family Conflict
  • Family attachment

Lesson 13 -- Creating Stable Families & Sharing Successes + Graduation Ceremony

SUMMARY of SKILLS: Parents and children meet together at this last class to have a short presentation and receive handouts on Skills for a Stable Family. They have an opportunity to share their Successes and Family Values Shield, and enjoy a Graduation Celebration.

Risk factors addressed:

  • Family attachment
  • Healthy beliefs and clear standards