COPE's free parent workshops will resume in October. In the meantime, check Topics for Parents for information on those (and other) topics.

Family Matters

Understand what is going on with your child, socially and emotionally. The resources to help you be prepared to respond and act. Anticipate the next step and to steer your child toward success and independence.

Getting Along

Workshop: Positive Parenting Skills

  • What are the essential elements of effective parenting that help to provide a happy and stable environment for your child to develop as an independent and resilient individual.
  • The importance of developing a strong parenting partnership;
  • How to increase positivity through play
  • Setting limits (including discipline)
  • How to use communication strategies to provide structure to family life
  • Navigating conflict and understanding the emotional triggers that challenge the parent-child relationship
  • The use of mindfulness tools to manage emotions in a healthy way.
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Pocket Reference

In-depth Articles

Workshop: Managing Conflict: Keeping Your Cool and Making it A Teachable Moment

  • Techniques for navigating the conflicts that are a part of all families’ lives.
  • Learn how to recognize and manage your own anger in order to becoming a better role model for your child.
  • The impact of a parent’s behavior on a child’s.
  • What triggers anger, and ways to express and control it in non-explosive ways.
  • Managing stress.
  • The effects of anger on the parent-child relationship and ideas for improving outcomes after family conflict.
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Pocket Reference
  • Feelings Thermometer

Podcast:  Managing Conflict

In-depth Articles:


Workshop: Active Listening

  • An overview of the tasks and benefits of active listening.
  • Exercises to practice this essential communication skill in a variety of parent-child and parent-to-parent scenarios.
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Pocket Reference

In-depth Articles:

Challenges of Contemporary Life

Workshop: Emotional Regulation

  • What is emotional regulation and how might it be relevant for you and your family?
  • Develop the skills needed for managing emotions under all circumstances which will aid you in successfully keep your cool when in crisis mode.
  • How to use self-calming strategies to reduce emotionally induced stress.
  • Explore how helping our children manage their emotions effectively is a key building block in family communication, school success, and positive peer interactions.
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Pocket Reference

Workshop: Mindfulness: Managing Seasonal Stress

  • Use mindfulness techniques and self-calming strategies to manage stress
  • Better understand, tolerate, and deal with your emotions in healthy ways by using techniques to alter habitual responses by pausing and choosing how you act.
  • Explore how helping our children manage their emotions effectively is a key building block in family communication, school success, and positive peer interactions.
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Pocket Reference

In-depth articles

Workshop: Taming Technology: Getting “Plugged-In Time” Under Control

  • Help to disconnect from our devices and to create digital boundaries for the entire family.
  • Addresses impact of being “plugged-in,” including brain, social and emotional development.
  • How to fit technology into your family’s values
  • Strategies for managing electronic use.
  • How to help your child develop a safe and responsible online presence.
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Pocket Reference
  • Our Family Values

In-depth Articles:


Related Articles of Interest


In-depth Articles


In-depth Articles

Moving On Toward Adulthood

Workshop: Launching Teens and Young Adults

Successfully launching your young adult begins long before high school graduation.

  • What are the milestones that serve as a countdown to a successful transition to adulthood.
  • The shifting dynamic of the parent/child relationship as teens become more independent.
  • What are the developmental, emotional and practical aspects of this transition.
  • How to young people make safe choices.
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Pocket Reference

In-depth Articles:


It’s important to help teens understand the consequences of their actions, however trivial the decision. If your teen doesn’t get out of bed until noon, they may miss out on fun time with friends because the dishwasher hasn’t been emptied or work hasn’t been done on summer homework. Letting a teenager make that decision while holding firm on your expectations reinforces the message that there are consequences for every action. It is easy to give in but you’re denying them an important opportunity to mature. Later, follow up with a conversation about how things worked out.

If you’re busy getting a child ready to go off to college, take a minute to check out this quick read: 3 Financial Tips for Launching College Students. Simple steps to get your freshman on a solid financial foundation.

Do you think your kids are tired of hearing your voice giving them advice? Check out this link to 3 TED talks to inspire them.

Summer vacation may have ended, but the beautiful weather hasn’t. On the weekend, you don’t have to go far to get outdoors with your family. Essex County has a wonderful network of parks (; Duke Farms near Sommerville has lots of free programming (;and it’s not too late to find lots to do at the shore, at Sandy Hook (

As your child grows older, there may be times when your values conflict with the values that they are learning from other people and the media. Talk with your teen and let them know what is important to you and why. Give them a chance to respond, and make sure you really listen. When you are genuinely willing to engage in a dialogue, you may find that the conversation is much more effective.

Now is a great time to start a new family holiday tradition. Long after your children outgrow the toys they desperately wanted, the gift of shared experiences will stay with them. With a little planning, you can start your own family’s tradition, one that celebrates what you value most and want to pass on to your children. Need ideas? These links can help jumpstart your efforts: Start a New Family Tradition (link to:

Tip: You probably understand “lol” in your tween’s text, but do you know what “pos” and “iykwim” or “cul8r” mean? Before you sit down with your tween to talk about texting, check out this media glossary of abbreviations and slang at the PBS Parents website.

You’ve practiced driving with your teen and you feel confident that he or she knows what they need to do to be a safe driver. But when it comes to the moment, and when they are with friends who may want them to make unsafe choices, it’s harder for them to say what they need to say and do what they need to do.

Teach them to speak up for what they know is safe and right. If a driver has been drinking, use a designated driver service to get everyone home safely. Use this link to find one in your area (available in very county in New Jersey):

Getting ready for an end-of-summer get-away? Have you run out of ideas to keep your family occupied. There is nothing better than sharing a good book.

If you’re going to be driving – and especially if sitting in a traffic jam is a likely part of your trip – download a book for everyone in the car to listen too. Libraries have downloading services where you can “borrow” an audiobook to download or you can purchase an audiobook from or

The summer is a great time to start a new family tradition: reading aloud together. Pick out a family favorite (Harry Potter? Charlotte’s Web? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?… you get the idea!) or dig into the classics: (something like A Wrinkle in Time, Sounder, or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). Snuggle up together on the sofa or on a bed and turn to page 1. Even if you just read a few pages a night, sharing a great story will build lasting family bonds.

Click here for links for book suggestions both for audio books and family read alouds.


Labor Day Weekend is a transition point in every family’s year, an opportunity to reflect together on the summer just past and look forward to the coming year.  While you’re enjoying an end-of-summer barbecue or picnic with the family together at the table, ask each person to think back on the summer to express gratitude, joy, humor, or awe about their favorite memory. Maybe you want to bring out markers and index cards for everyone (adults included) to create a picture to stick to the fridge as a reminder of the summer’s highlights. Later on, maybe on the night before school starts, make a family bucket list of what everyone wants to accomplish this fall. Keep the list handy and as the fall progresses, make sure you remember to mark off each accomplished item on the list.

Did your good intentions about getting organized before the school year started just not happen? Don’t feel guilty and don’t despair. There are many things that you do to make this school year feel like you are in control and starting off right. First step, start the habit of taking a few minutes to sit quietly and clear your mind, concentrating on some image or feeling each breath. Next, click here for practical, achievable steps to re-set the start of the school year in Jennifer Kantor’s “Making the Back to School Transition Better” from Check out our other resources on this website and come to our parenting workshops, the first one is on October 12th, Positive Parenting Skills. Click here for more information.



Are you looking for a new way to share the love on Valentine’s Day? Here are some ideas:

  • Sign up to volunteer at a local soup kitchen or senior citizens residence as a family.
  • Brainstorm with your kids about ways to make sure that their celebration of Valentine’s Day is inclusive. It’s an opportunity to talk about feelings – about love and friendship and about feeling left out and lonely.
  • Did you know that Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 11th to 17th? Check out the website here for inspiration.
  • Make a family “kindness calendar” with goals for each day of the week; you could include: doing something nice for someone you know as well as for someone you don’t know; sending a card to someone in the military; getting in touch with an old friend who has fallen off the radar; finding a way to say “I love you” to a family member that includes a shout out about what makes them special to you; setting time aside for a family activity where everyone puts away their devices and does something together. Lastly, make a resolution that these goals aren’t just for a single week of the year, but something for the other 51 weeks of the year as well.

 Reframe the message! Turn making a mistake into a problem-solving opportunity. Brain science research tells us that making mistakes can help us learn. Doing it wrong should send the message to work harder to get it right, not discourage you from trying. So, what can we do as parents to encourage this “growth” mindset? To give children confidence to feel good about themselves and their abilities to ultimately get it right requires that parents lay a foundation, all of which are building blocks of positive parenting:

  • Manage expectations: this strategy only works when expectations are realistic. What is being asked should be age/developmentally appropriate.
  • Set a good example: when you get frustrated or mess up, do you rage or laugh at yourself?
  • Be patient with accidents and mistakes. Calmly having kids clean up their own messes teach responsibility and that these things do happen.
  • Recognize effort; find the positive and ask what lesson was learned.
  • Don’t solve your child’s problems for her. Throw a lifeline to help her understand her mistakes and focus on how to find solutions.
  • Show you understand and believe in your child’s abilities.
  • Consequences still matter. Don’t skip the conversation about how to right a wrong.
  • Stay in the moment; don’t shift focus to past mistakes.
  • Problem solving doesn’t always work in all situations; some problems can’t be solved, know when to try a different approach.

The process of how you do something sometimes matters more than the result or outcome. The lessons that stay with you are the ones that you own. The key is to make figuring something out a part of the fun.

Want to read more: How Making Mistakes Primes Kids to Learn BetterLearn From Mistakes and How Praise Became the Consolation Prize.


How to make a day of unplugging into a memorable day together for your family when you break out of all kinds of routines.

Confiscating your family’s phones and tablets for a day isn’t enough to make a day unplugged from electronics meaningful. Make a plan; if you want to your kids to not just roll their eyes when you reminisce about this day, planning ahead is essential. Here are some suggestions for the day:

  • Before bed the night before, “corral” everyone’s phones and tablets and set them aside together.
  • Use the start of the day to try a mindfulness exercise (print one out the night before) as a family.
  • Prepare and eat breakfast all together. Mix It up, let the kids prepare the meal, you can set the table.
  • Reconnect with friends and family. Visit an elderly relative. Meet up at a museum, park, or an unfamiliar neighborhood or town you’ve always wanted to explore.
  • Work together on a project: create or build something, bake something fabulously delicious to share, volunteer, tackle cleaning out clutter or rearranging the family room.
  • Wrap up the day by pulling out art supplies, pens and paper for everyone to document their own highlight (you might get a “low-light.” Be good humored about it, you never know how the experience might be remembered by your child; in years to come, it might become a vivid and, maybe even, happy memory. Go around the table and share, laughing and groaning together.
  • When you liberate your electronics, pick the next day you’ll “unplug” together and enter it in your calendar with an alert far enough ahead to plan another memorable day.

June 2018