Nearly a dozen Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) practitioners in Greenville County gathered virtually last month to build their understanding of foundational skills for family-serving professionals and parents alike.

“Self-regulation is the gateway, not just to learning, but to healing and well-being,” said Dr. Linda Chamberlain, an internationally recognized epidemiologist and trauma specialist.

During the morning-long workshop, Chamberlain presented the latest science on trauma and resilience and demonstrated ways to regulate emotions and behavior.

Greenville First Steps, an organization that helps parents access support and resources, hosted the event as an opportunity for Triple P practitioners to further their education. First Steps serves as the hub for Triple P in Greenville County with funding and support from Children’s Trust and The Duke Endowment.

Triple P is an evidence-based parenting program that gives caregivers simple strategies to help them build healthy relationships, confidently manage their children’s behavior, and prevent problems from developing. Triple P practitioners offer virtual and in-person programming, including one-on-one support, group classes and one-time workshops, at schools and organizations across Greenville County.

Virginia Bikas, the Triple P community capacity coach in Greenville for Children’s Trust, believes workshops like this are important for providers to build their “tool kit” to better serve families.

“Practitioners can use some of the tools Chamberlain shared to help parents ground, release stress and clear their mind to be ready to engage with an open mind during Triple P sessions,” Bikas said.

Chamberlain led participants through a variety of body-based strategies, such as mindful movement, breathwork, muscle relaxation and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), all of which help shift the nervous system out of survival mode and into regulation. Only once a person’s system is regulated can they experience optimal mental and physical health. She showed how reducing stress in one’s environment and building an awareness of feelings and sensations in the body also aid in self-regulation.

Ultimately, self-regulation, as illustrated by Chamberlain, develops in the context of co-regulation, meaning children must learn how to regulate from mature adults, such as their parents and other caring people.

“Self-regulatory skills in your work are key because that’s how we open the door to learn and to really thrive,” Chamberlain said.

Throughout her presentation, Chamberlain showed ways to adapt the practices for children, parents and practitioners. One example she gave was Inner Explorer, a mindfulness app that connects parents to teachers and children in the classroom.

At the end of the workshop, Chamberlain, who served as a keynote speaker at the 2021 Building Hope for Children Conference hosted by Children’s Trust in the spring, reminded participants to lead parents and children back to their innate knowing.

“Encourage people to be their own scientists. Invite them to explore what already works for them. The wisdom of the body is powerful.”