Holly Davie The Center

Holly Davis, family outreach coordinator at The Center, discusses different tools parents are taught in The Center’s parenting program to help them build connections and empathize with their children, such as using “loving eyes” and the “pause button” for stressful situations.

The Center hopes to provide a bridge between parents and children with its parenting program, geared toward improving and building communication and connections with children.

The program was developed in April 2020 by family outreach coordinator Holly Davis and family outreach specialist Megan Brannon and has been completed by 89 families, so far, according to Davis.

The program consists of five weekly sessions, each covering its own unique topic, which are taught and mediated by Davis.

Topics covered include taking care of you first, understanding your child’s brain, building relationships, empathy and finally, discipline and consequences.

Davis said the first session, “taking care of you first,” is the foundation for everything to come.

“This is something I had to learn in the very beginning. I was a screamer and yeller and I knew I needed to change because my babies deserved better. It was not what I wanted to be as a parent,” she said. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of you to give the people in your life the best of you, not what’s left of you.”

The second session, “understanding your child’s brain,” covers why children act the way they do and understanding the reasoning behind it, whether they are in a fight or flight state or a survival state, which Davis called “their burning building.”

The session teaches parents how to address those emotions and behaviors and understand that nothing is wrong with the child and those behaviors and emotions are normal, physical reactions.

The third session, “building relationships,” covers creating bonds and positive connections between child and parent.

Rebuilding connections, Davis said, requires a combination of positive interactions, such as making genuine eye contact, being playful and being present.

Session four, empathy, covers understand a child’s emotions and helping them learn how to talk about and express them and giving them the tools to do so.

Finally, Davis said the final session, “discipline and consequences,” covers correcting negative behaviors, which she said is just a small part of the process. The rest, she said, is the foundation.

The five sessions, she said, will help provide parents with the tools they need to develop positive and effective parenting.

She said the program has made a significant difference in the lives and relationships of many families she has worked with throughout the past year and a half since the program’s inception.

“I was that mom that needed someone to say, ‘Hey, you’re not crazy. There’s not something wrong with you.’ ” she said. “There’s just this gap between parents and kids and we want to be that bridge.”

The program is currently ongoing with 20 parents enrolled in the five-week program. It will begin a new five-week session starting

Oct. 14.

To enroll in the upcoming program, parents can reach out to the family outreach department at the center by calling 270-684-3837.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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