FOCUS helps parents fine-tune their parenting skills by building on their current strengths.

Through FOCUS, parents learn strategies to help them overcome and adapt to new situations. Below are 5 tips that can help you tweak your parenting to help you master any challenge that may come your way:

Set parenting goals. Figure out what you hope to accomplish as a parenting unit. In other words, ask yourselves what characteristics you are trying to build in your children. Whatever they are, be sure to break them down into realistic and specific steps. Setting these goals will help you maintain flexible, yet consistent parenting strategies during deployment, other parental absences, and beyond.

Communicate openly. Maintain open and direct communication about rules and expectations. Explain the reasons behind rules to your children and encourage them to ask questions openly and honestly. Prompt them to communicate about their true feelings by asking open-ended questions, such as “Why do you think that we have that rule in our house?”

Build consistent routines. Stick to a somewhat structured routine. Knowing what to expect helps kids feel secure and comforted. Routines give children a better understanding of their roles, the world they live in, and how they are expected to function in it. It also helps build their trust in you, knowing that you will help them through whatever is to come. If routine building is a tricky area for your family, check out our website, http://www.focusproject.org, for some helpful tips.

Provide logical consequences. Try to use clear and natural consequences. Reserve time-outs or groundings for more severe behavior if you can. Kids are curious, they often do things because they are exploring, not because they are willfully breaking a rule. Try redirecting the behavior first, but if that doesn’t work or if the behavior needs to be stopped immediately, give a clear command with a direct logical consequence: “You can write on paper, not on walls. I have to take the markers away because you wrote on the wall. We can try again later only if you use them on paper.”

Model the behaviors you want to see. Your children look to you for clues about how they should behave. In other words, your behavior teaches kids about theirs.  Make sure you are modeling behaviors that are consistent with your family values and household rules. When we are inconsistent, we may accidentally teach children to use inappropriate or undesirable behavior to get what they want.

FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) is a resiliency-building program of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED). FOCUS is an eight-session training program for military families that is grounded in more than two decades of research and experience serving families dealing with stress and changes. FOCUS is specifically adapted for the needs of military couples, children and families and provides training in core resilience skills. These skills increase closeness, support, communication and adaptability. Couples and families learn to work together to manage difficult emotions, set goals and problem solve, communicate clearly and effectively, and develop customized strategies to deal with ongoing stress and change.

For more info about FOCUS, visit www.focusproject.org or www.facebook.com/FOCUSresiliencytraining

Contact your local FOCUS site:

• Marine and Family Services, Bldg. 13150, Camp Pendleton, 760-859-6079, camppendleton@focuproject.org

• Dolphin Alley, Bldg. 265, NBSD, 619-556-6075, sandiego@focuproject.org.

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Military Press

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