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National Drug Council equips parents with the necessary tools to raise emotionally healthy and well behaved children

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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (SKNIS) – As part of its ongoing efforts to prevent the misuse and abuse of substances by young people, the St. Kitts and Nevis National Council on Drug Abuse Prevention introduced the first cohort for its Safe Space Parenting programme which targeted parents of children in the 1st form of the Saddlers Secondary School.

The programme uses as its premise that when children are emotionally well-balanced their behaviour will be well-adjusted resulting in a lesser propensity to use and misuse drugs. Parents, therefore, have a pivotal role to play in raising emotionally well-balanced children, just as their psycho-social well-being is important.

The Safe Space Parenting programme, which commenced on March 16, 2023, was facilitated by a licensed clinical mental health therapist who is also a certified emotional processing and parenting coach. The training programme sought to increase awareness of childhood emotional neglect; expose participants to different parenting styles; and introduce them to tools to create an emotionally safe space for children to thrive.

Addressing the graduation ceremony for the programme participants on Thursday (April 20) evening at the Tabernacle Community Center, the Director of the St. Kitts-Nevis National Council on Drug Abuse Prevention Secretariat, Mrs. Karimu Byron Caines explained how this programme came about.

“In March of 2021, our Drug Abuse Prevention Officer Ms. Ishelle Huggins began facilitating drug education and prevention sessions at the Saddlers Secondary School. She would have facilitated sessions with students of various forms. Based on her feedback from her engagement with children and reports from the school, we knew we had to do more. We held a postmortem discussion with the school’s executive, community leaders, Mrs. Blake, and two of her family counselors from the National Counseling Center and our team at the National Drug Council. One of the recommendations from that discussion was to ensure parents are equipped with the knowledge and tools to raise children to thrive and become productive citizens,” Mrs. Byron Caines explained.

She further noted that targeted programmes of this nature are important.

Mrs. Byron Caines said, “Evidence proves that parenting practices predict essential outcomes for children and clinically sound programmes effectively support parents to promote optimal results for children. Parenting programmes are effective in improving the emotional and behavioral adjustments of children, in addition to enhancing the psycho-social wellbeing of parents.”

“I congratulate the parents who actively engaged in the sessions and showed outstanding commitment. Based on the evaluations from the participants, the sessions were beneficial and will be used throughout their parenting journey,” Director Byron Caines added.

The programme was facilitated by Ms. Konje Byron, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in the US states of North and South Carolina. Over the four-week training programme, Ms. Byron engaged the participants on the topics of childhood emotional neglect, emotional safety, self-regulation and stress management, as well as behavioral expectations of children at different ages and stages.

Fourteen (14) parents registered for the Safe Space Parenting programme, however, due to various commitments only eight (8) parents were able to attend all sessions and complete the necessary assignments to successfully graduate from the programme.

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