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Published on November 16, 2017

Powell family

Parenting program gives parents tools to help raise children

Michelle and Alex Powell of La Crosse try to find balance in their lives between raising their two young daughters and working full time.

"Creating a home where our girls are able to try out their social and emotional skills is a daily challenge," says Michelle. "Our 3-year-old's tantrums are frequent because of her stage of development, and our 1-and-a-half-year-old is in the imitation phase and copies her older sister, yet doesn't have the verbal capacity to communicate."

Michelle and Alex's challenges are not unique. Most parents face similar or even more extreme struggles with their children.

"Parenting is the most challenging job that you'll never receive a formal training for," explains Jeff Reiland, MS, a parent and family therapist in Behavioral Health at Gundersen Health System. "Because kids don't come with instruction manuals, it helps to have parenting strategy resources available."

Gundersen offers many levels of parenting education including Parents Raising Resilient Children, based on ACT Raising Safe Kids, an internationally recognized program. The eight-week program is designed to equip parents with effective tools and strategies to raise healthy and resilient children.

The Powells are two of more than 500 parents who have participated in the program. "We are able to co-parent more effectively now and feel we are better equipped for parenting struggles as they arise," says Michelle, who is now a certified facilitator for this program.

"This program will teach parents to have a more positive relationship with their kids," Jeff explains. "Parents walk away from our program with a better understanding of child development and proactive ways to help their children problem solve and grow."

The next session at the Gundersen Onalaska Clinic begins Jan. 23.

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