Dozens sign up for family strengthening

STEVE DOWNES Dozens of Norfolk parents and children will be given lessons in how to get on with each other in a bid to head off conflict and family breakdown, it was revealed last night.

STEVE DOWNES

Dozens of Norfolk parents and children will be given lessons in how to get on with each other in a bid to head off conflict and family breakdown, it was revealed last night.

They will be taught basic skills that are increasingly rare in some families - like setting limits for children, listening to each other and talking about problems without resorting to shouting or aggression.

Forty families have been signed up for the Strengthening Families Programme, which also aims to help families to confront and deal with substance misuse and peer pressure.

It is aimed at parents whose child:

t has a bad attitude

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t has started to argue more often

t may have begun to drink, smoke or take drugs.

It is also targeted at children who, according to the leaflet advertising the course:

t feel like they are on “another planet” to their parents

t want to understand their parents better.

And the course promises to help families “survive the pre-teen years”, reduce conflict, respect each other and have fun together.

The courses have begun in Dereham, Norwich, Yarmouth and King's Lynn, with each family attending seven two-hour sessions. They will bring the total of families helped to 150 since the courses began in Norfolk in 2005.

Rosalie Monbiot, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, said: “Strengthening the relationship between parents and their children is a real priority for the county council and an important part of our work.

“This kind of support can help keep families together and provide greater harmony in the home. The feedback from those who have taken part shows how much families can gain from the programme and I am delighted that we have been able to support so many families in this way.”

The programme is aimed at parents or carers of children aged 10 to 14 and is run by a combination of statutory and voluntary agencies.

It allows parents to work together with their children, both on their relationship and on the issues that affect them.

Parents and young people attend separate skill building sessions and then come together to build on the skills in supervised family activities.

It is recommended by both the Department of Heath and National Institute for Clinical Excellence as well as by the government's Respect taskforce.

One young person who took part in a previous programme said: “I learnt about peer pressure and how to cope with problems and anger at home and in school. I also learnt a little about my mum and she learnt about me I think.”

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