UA offers behavior, family transition classes for TUSD parents

By Gabriella Vukelic For the Arizona Daily Star

A University of Arizona family engagement program is helping TUSD parents cope with their children’s behavioral issues, coaching them through family transitions. The free program offers classes that focus on different aspects of behavioral issues and how to talk to children whose parents are going through a divorce or separation, said Debbie Curley, who runs the program.

What might be appropriate for one family might not be appropriate for another, so parents learn to be aware and there for their children, she said. The program is based on knowledge and research from the university and seeks to help child brain development.

“The importance of this is learning how to keep kids out of the middle,” Curley said. “Don’t blame them, they are not the cause, and say that mom and dad will work it out.”

The sessions, taught at TUSD’s Palo Verde Family Center, 1302 S. Avenida Vega, are open to parents with children of all ages.

Children don’t attend the classes with their parents, but child care is available. The care center has trained professionals and is education-based.

The child-behavioral management classes give parents a “tool box” of skills, said Ana Morales, a facilitator and trainer of the program. In the first session, parents learn positive parenting skills and set their first goals. Then, in the second session, they develop relationship techniques related to better communication and social skills.

Each week, parents are required to log in any meltdowns that their child might have had. If one happens, they need to log what happened before, what triggered them to melt down, and what happened after.

Michelle Naour, a TUSD parent with 5-year-old twin daughters, takes the child-behavior management classes for an opportunity to be a better parent. The most interesting part about the classes, she said, is interacting with other parents and knowing that she is not alone in dealing with behavioral issues. “My twins are very different, so I can’t parent both of them the same way,” Naour said. “That’s the change I need to focus on.”

Gabriella Vukelic is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at

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