Seventeen Barbadians have gone back to the classroom for an intensive training programme which will see them learning various techniques aimed at assisting parents across the island to improve their parenting skills.

The training of trainers component of the Parent Education and Support Programme, which is being managed by the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports, started on January 11 and will run for 12 weeks. Some of the modules to be taught include parenting, coping and managing, finding self, seeking help and action planning.

On completion, they will join the 18 facilitators who graduated last August in delivering a series of seminars in the community on Positive Parenting Skills.?? It is part of an effort to help all persons who are interested in sharpening their skills in this area.????

Senior Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Youth, Marva Howell, said the programme was constantly being tweaked to improve the quality of its content and application. In addition, she stated, both the facilitators and the parents give feedback so the programme could be evaluated at different levels.

"We also hope to provide our parent facilitators with a manual, so that any time they think they are weak in a particular subject matter, they can go back to the manual and utilise a lot of the exercises," Ms. Howell explained.??

She noted that a survey conducted by the Ministry early last year revealed that parent education was in demand in Barbados and described the initiative as multifaceted.

"From participating in the programme, we hope parents can utilise the knowledge and skills they learn and apply these techniques within the home environment, so they are able to communicate more effectively with their children.

"Parents should feel more empowered at the end of the training, while children should feel they are being listened to. We expect to see an improvement in their inter-personal relations, not only in the home environment, but work places and communities as well," the Senior Administrative Officer stated.

Some of the issues being dealt with during the training include, managing finances, sexuality, dealing with troubled teens, domestic violence, health and family life and conflict resolution and anger management.

She indicated that negative parenting skills were manifested by some and she stressed that the Parent Support and Education Programme would help to dispel some of those practices, while reinforcing positive ones. The official added that the participants were also being given information about social services and how they could be accessed.

So far, about 70 persons have been exposed to positive parenting techniques and the organisers are seeking to ensure that the programme is held at several venues across the island, thus making the training accessible to all.

Meanwhile, positive parenting skills seminars will start tomorrow Tuesday, February 9, at Weston New Testament Church of God for those in that community, and on Thursday, February 11, in the Conference Room of the Ministry of Education for the

Parent Association of the Barbados Youth Service. About 240 persons are expected to undergo training this financial year.

Ms. Howell pointed out that the initial response to the training had been good, with most parents reporting it was beneficial and informative. "But, we would like to see parents use a bit more of the information in their households, so it is reflected in how they deal with other members of the family," she stated.

Ms. Howell urged those parents who have not yet done so and interested persons to register for the seminars. She declared: "I believe that even if you are already a parent with teenagers, there are areas you may have been exposed to that gave some sort of challenge, and a programme like this offers new techniques which would be beneficial to you.

"By parents sharing their experiences with each other and interacting with our expert facilitators, I am confident that they will find ways to improve their relationships with their children, even if they are troubled teenagers," the official opined.

??The Administrative Officer explained that parent teacher associations were also being targeted and pointed out that members of such groups who were interested in the positive parenting seminars should contact the Ministry at 430-2915 or 430-2917.

Ms. Howell asserted that parents were not left on their own after undergoing the training, but could receive additional support from the Ministry or the expert facilitators.

So, as the Ministry of Youth presses ahead with this initiative, which is one of its flagship programmes, parents and potential facilitators are encouraged to take advantage of the training which will greatly benefit our society.

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