In Ask Nicole, Family Support

by Yesenia Gomez-Carrillo and Nicole M. Young, MSW

My kids were 5- and 9-years old when I began managing the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program in 2009. Now they’re 20 and 24, and I’m incredibly proud of the young adults they’ve become. We’ve had many highs and lows as a family, with countless times where my parenting skills, confidence, and patience were tested. Each time, I found my way using Triple P strategies. It triplep-yseniamade me a firm believer in Triple P’s motto, “Small changes make a big difference.” Now, I’m thrilled to pass the baton to First 5’s Triple P Program Manager, Yesenia, who will be taking over this column. This month, Yesenia answers my questions as a parent and Triple P champion. Enjoy! – Nicole

Nicole: What does “positive parenting” mean to you?

Yesenia: Positive parenting means being there for your child to help them grow, develop, and thrive. It means loving your child and creating a safe space for them to have the big emotions that children often have. I’m looking at you, tantrums! As a parent, it’s my role to help my child navigate those big emotions in a positive, effective way so they can process, self-regulate, and feel secure. Triple P is similar to my own philosophy, as it’s built on these principles of positive parenting: Create a safe, engaging environment; Create a positive learning environment;Use assertive discipline; Have realistic expectations; and Take care of yourself as a parent.

Nicole: What’s the most rewarding and challenging thing about being a parent?

Yesenia: The most rewarding thing is being able to love someone so deeply and unconditionally and to see them grow. I love seeing my daughter’s personality develop each day— whether it’s learning a new word or facial expression, finding her voice, or discovering she loves or dislikes a new thing. Witnessing this firsthand is the best joy I’ll ever experience.

The most challenging thing is resisting the urge to be “the perfect parent.” At times, the responsibility of molding a little one can feel like a heavy weight because you want to do it perfectly. I constantly need to remind myself that it’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that no one is perfect. All parents have bad days, good days, and in-between days, and that’s okay, as long as we show up for our children.

Nicole: What Triple P parenting strategies are most useful and effective in your family?

Yesenia: One of my favorite Triple P strategies is Showing Affection, which can mean hugging, holding, cuddling, kissing, or tickling your child. Affection helps develop a secure attachment and trust, and it can be a powerful form of encouragement. This strategy has helped form my relationship with my daughter and continues to enhance our bond. I love seeing her big smile when I hug and kiss her when I come home from work, getting hugs from her as she says, “mama” in a high pitched voice, and cuddling together as we read books. The joy she expresses tells me she feels loved and secure. Showing affection is something so simple I can do to nurture our bond, and it validates that I’m doing a good job as a parent.

Descriptive Praise is another effective strategy that encourages positive behavior by acknowledging a child’s efforts, behaviors, and accomplishments. I use this strategy frequently with my daughter. I love that it encourages positive behaviors and builds her self-pride. One time,after our dogs made a mess, I said, “We need to clean this up. Mama will get the broom.” My daughter immediately got her little broom and helped me clean. As I gave her descriptive praise — “Thank you for helping me clean, that’s very nice.” — she smiled, signed “thank you,” and gave herself a fist bump. After this instance, she began to throw trash away, put toys away, and look at me as she signed “thank you” and walked away feeling proud of herself.

Final Thoughts: Parenting is extremely rewarding and challenging, and it’s also extremely fulfilling. Yet parenting is the one job that doesn’t come with an instruction manual or training. Triple P offers practical tools that are simple and effective, which allows you to let go, trust yourself, and experience the joy of parenting.

This monthly column provides tips for anyone who is helping raise children, based on the world-renowned Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, available to families in Santa Cruz County. If you have a question or idea for a future column, please email triplep@first5scc.org.

Yesenia Gomez-Carrillo is the mother of a 2-year-old daughter and the Triple P Program Manager for First 5 Santa Cruz County. Nicole Young is the mother of two young adults, who managed Santa Cruz County’s Triple P program for over 10 years. Scientifically proven, Triple P is made available locally by First 5, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, and the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department. To find a Triple P parenting class or practitioner, visit http://triplep.first5scc.org, http://www.facebook.com/triplepscc, or contact First 5 Santa Cruz County at 465-2217 or triplep@first5scc.org.

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