A county organization that helps military families will host them at military family nights in February and March.
Prevention Plus of Burlington County sponsors a six-session program for families of active and retired military members to teach strategies that promote good communication and supportive relationships.
All classes will be held via Zoom and will teach valuable skills, such as dealing with stress and peer pressure. Program dates are Feb. 8, 15 and 22 and March 1, 8 and 15. Free pizza will be sent to the homes of participating families, who will receive $150 in Visa gift cards upon graduation.
Joseph Conlin, director of community relations for Prevention Plus, explained that the program is funded by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services through the New Jersey Prevention Network.
According to Conlin, the program is designed for children of military families who are 8 to 14 years old and have difficulty in school or trouble adjusting to a new environment.
“We’re going to do one night a week for six weeks, and each lesson builds off the previous lesson,” he said.
The program will have parent, youth and family sessions that will cover topics such as encouraging good behavior, following rules, building family communication and supporting goals and dreams.
Parents learn a variety of lessons that focus on building bridges, protecting against substance abuse and making house rules. Kids can earn rewards by performing chores throughout the week.
“There’s a lot of families .. they can’t afford to buy the kid’s new video game systems, so we’re not saying that’s what your reward has to be,” Conlin emphasized. “It could be something as simple as you get to spend more time with mom and dad that weekend.”
“Whatever it is, they’re learning how to reward the kids for good behavior instead of just giving them everything and hoping for the best.”
Conlin shared the many benefits of the program.
“It is nice watching the families eat dinner together,” he said, “because we know that kids who eat dinner with their parents three to five times a week … do better in school.”
“I think that by doing this virtually, we might also have that opportunity where there may be a parent who’s deployed who could join us for at least one or two of the sessions, which would be really neat to be able to do,” Conlin added.
Families interested in learning more about the Prevention Plus program can contact Conlin at email@example.com.