Course Description

Course Description

KIDS FIRST is a 2 ½ hour educational program designed for families to help their children cope with the difficulties of parental separation and family conflict. Participants are presented with information and experiences to help them learn how parental relationships have a direct effect on children, how children might respond by age and gender, how to reduce separation distress in children, how to deal with parent-child alliances, how parents might free themselves from entrenched conflict and how to develop a functional co-parenting relationship.

Understand Your Child’s
“Emotional Room”

We spend a lot of time, energy and money making our homes safe and pleasant for our children. In spite of these good efforts, it is easy to overlook the fact that there is another place where children grow up. It’s not a physical space that can be seen with your eyes. To help imagine this place, think of it as your children’s emotional room, the invisible environment your children experience. This room may be filled with healthy cooperation or unhealthy behaviors and interactions. Children are likely to be okay if their emotional room is filled with stable, caring, kind adults and parental cooperation.


Do Less of What Hurts  Do More of What Helps
Make an honest attempt to identify hurtful things that might be in your children’s emotional room. Make a commitment to do less of what hurts. Identity helpful things that will improve your children’s emotional room. Make a commitment to more of what helps.
• Children witnessing open parental conflict• Children witnessing violence and intimidation• Parents dropping out of a child’s life

• Chaotic changes and family disorganization

• Surprise separations

• Disturbing or overly emotional departures

• Communicating through the children

• Quizzing the children

• Hearing one parent criticize the other

• Making children feel like they have to side with a parent

• Forcing children to keep secrets

• Too many adult responsibilities

• Children nurturing adults

• Impulsive angry phone calls or confrontations

• Interfering with the other parent’s time or authority

• Enduring more change than can be tolerated: losing parents, moving from friends and family, being cut off from grandparents, changing schools and/or neighborhoods

• Adopt a child-centered vision of a functional co-parenting relationship• Create a developmentally appropriate and predictable time-sharing schedule that allows for reasonable flexibility.• Child exchange routines are caring, on-time, conflict free

• Shielding children from destructive conflict

• Disengage from conflict and stay in control of emotions

• Both parents remain cooperatively involved in the lives of the children

• Schedule business, like parental communications, when the children are not present

• Reasonable and private communications between children and the away parent

• Parents healing and taking care of themselves

• Parents support children’s reasonable involvement in activities

• A balance of nurturing and discipline in parenting children

• Staying emotionally connected to children

• Practicing active listening to ensure everyone’s needs are heard

• Support system for parents and children

• Develop predictable routines and communicate them clearly with children.