The Best Valentine’s Day Gifts Can’t Be Wrapped in a Box.

Valentine’s Day is this weekend and the best gift you can give your partner is not a fancy dinner or a piece of jewelry. The greatest gift is to turn towards each other.

tiffany-blue-boxI have attended lectures by Dr. John Gottman (a professor emeritus in psychology known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis through scientific direct observations) and he uses the term “turn toward” a lot. I wasn’t always sure what he meant by that, so I did a little research. Gottman says every day we are given countless opportunities to turn towards, turn away, or turn against a partner’s bid for attention. The act of turning toward instead of away during these small moments will help you to learn to recognize your partner’s needs. These small acts will add points to your emotional bank account (deposits) and over time will have a big impact on your relationship (Gottman, Bringing Baby Home. 2010).

I use the same analogies in my parenting workshop on building an emotional bank account with your children so that, when you have to make a withdrawal, the bank is full. When you have to make a withdrawal and the emotional bank is empty, it typically doesn’t go well (you have no leverage). Gottman’s research has determined that couples who interact with five positive interactions to every one negative interaction have better relationships. So how do I fill the emotional bank (or turn towards)?

  • It starts by noticing. You need to be present and notice the good things in your partner. Slowing down and taking the time to express your appreciation fills that bank.
  • It needs to be specific. A general “good job” is okay, but to get the biggest bang for your buck, give specific praise.

This Valentine’s Day, committing to remembering to take time in even the smallest of moments and turn towards can lead to a more satisfying relationship. Forego the presents and dinner, and practice those positive interactions. Your children will thank you.

But, sweetie, if you already bought me something in a blue box with a white bow…..don’t take it back!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!


New PCIT Certification Assures High-Quality Parenting Coaching for Encompass Families

By Liann Smith, Washington State Parent Support Specialist & Encompass PCIT CoachLiann

Here is a mouthful — “Washington State PCIT Parent Support Specialist.” What does that mean? It is a certification that is 3 years in the making. In 2011, I had been practicing as a Parent coach for two years, using a very good curriculum, but I still had parents struggling with their child’s misbehaviors. As I researched more tools, I found Parent Child Interaction Training (PCIT). It is a set of parenting tools that increases emotional connection and control with a child and teaches parents how to set calm, predictable limits. Best of all, the parent is taught specific skills and then coached while they interact with their child in a playroom via an ear bud (the coach views the parent-child through a one -way viewing window).

To earn this certification, I engaged in the 40 hours of direct teaching from the University of Washington at Harborview medical Center. The next step was a one-year internship with monthly fellowship phone calls with our trainer. Next was submitting three DVD recordings demonstrating the coaching skills specific to PCIT and having a live observation with my trainer. Lastly, was an application process with PCIT International, meeting all the requirements to take the certification examination. On August 29th, 2014 I passed the PCIT International exam.

Why is this important for local families? It ensures a high quality of parent coaching. Although this process was rigorous, it was surely worth it. I learned to be precise with the tools of Parent Child Interaction Training. And the certification affirms PCIT as an evidenced-based practice, meaning there are specific assessments in place that guide the coach for predictable outcomes. The outcomes increase emotional connection between parent and child and decrease negative behaviors of the child. Simply put, families enjoy one another.

When families come to see me for the first time, I always explain to the child that I am their parent’s teacher. They always smile at this statement. I tell the child, “Your parents told me they don’t want to be good parents, they want to be GREAT parents.” With the tools of Parent Child Interaction Training, I truly do help parents be GREAT parents.

Here is a video outlining what the Encompass PCIT lab looks like, how the coach interacts with families and some of the tools you will learn if you engage with Parent Child Interaction Training. VIDEO — 

Call 425.888.2777 for more information on how your family can participate in PCIT.

Click here for more information about PCIT International.

A Family’s First Summer Camp Story

This is a letter sent to us by a local family, who chose Encompass Summer Camps as their toddler’s first enrichment program. Both our 2-year old camps and our toddler playgroups are wonderful first experiences for 2-year olds where they are guided through developmentally-appropriate play and are able to have fun with other toddlers. Parents benefit from access to our expert staff and connections with other parents of toddlers.

Enrolling my 2 year old son in Encompass summer camps was the best thing I could have done for his growth and development.  Registration opened late March and I nervously signed him up for 3 camp sessions.  As a first time mom I was going through some uneasy and challenging times with my toddler.  He was very content being with me and only me.  If I put him in a situation where he was with other children, he would cling to my leg.  I took it in stride but wondered if he would ever get over his separation anxiety.

In April, my son turned 2, and was showing signs of improvement.  His language and social skills were developing into that of a typical 2-year old.  He would parallel play with other children but would keep his focus on me.  Every time he was left with a sitter there would be tears.  If I walked out of sight he would start to panic.  He preferred me over anyone else.  I was starting to think my parenting skills weren’t up to par and then the first day of summer camp came!

I vividly remember dropping Reid off for the Planes, Trains and Automobile camp in June.  We met our friends outside and all walked in together.  When it came time for me to say goodbye and leave I was shocked to see that he was okay.  I expected him to look for me and cry.  Instead he walked in to the classroom and started playing with the trucks.  I was relieved and excited to see that there were no tears but then thought to myself, what if he was just distracted?  Second day of summer camp came and I walked him to the class room again…and still no tears!  I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.  We both needed this positive experience.  Since he loved being at camp so much I decided to sign him up for a 4th week.

As a mom, one of the best things about summer camp was bringing home all of the adorable and creative artwork he created.  Together we went through his masterpieces and framed a few for his room.  Needless to say my kitchen walls and fridge are plastered with art!

Miss Nikki and all of the summer camp counselors were great and always greeted us warmly when we walked in.  Eventually it got to the point where my son would run in to the class room and start playing without giving me a goodbye hug and kiss.  Summer camp at Encompass truly cured his ongoing separation anxiety and for that I am grateful.  Thank you so much!

~Jenna, North Bend



Decrease Parental Stress and Target Challenging Behavior

By Kerry Beymer

PFP_WashingtonColorEach April, people across the country join forces to raise awareness of the terrible tragedy of child abuse and neglect for National Child Abuse Prevention Month. At Encompass, we know that parenting can be difficult – especially when kids have challenging behaviors. Parenting is the most challenging yet most important job we do and in those challenging times parental stress runs high. Parental stress levels can be a predictor of child abuse.

There is no single known cause of child maltreatment. Nor is there any single description that captures all families in which children are victims of abuse and neglect. Child abuse occurs across all socio-economic, religious, cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. No one is immune. It must be emphasized, however, that while certain factors often are present among families where maltreatment occurs, this does not mean that the presence of these factors will always result in child abuse and neglect.

In 2011, Child Protective Services (CPS) accepted referrals for 46,636 individual children, equaling a rate of 30 per 1,000 children under age 18. Bear in mind that only a portion of child maltreatment is reported to CPS, and not all referrals are investigated.

To reduce child abuse and neglect in our community, Encompass offers a host of programing that can help decrease the parental stress and help parents sort through their children’s challenging behaviors, including:

Each of us can make a difference preventing child abuse and neglect. There are a few ways for you to get involved:

  • Educate yourself and others about child abuse and its prevention by visiting or
  • Build a support network by increasing your involvement in your community. Getting involved with Encompass programs, community center groups, or library programs is a good start.
  • Volunteer for organizations serving children and families.
  • Contribute to organizations working to prevent child abuse. At Encompass, your contribution will go a long way at helping to develop healthy children and create strong families – two critical components of child abuse prevention. To donate, click here.

With your support, we can to increase child abuse prevention efforts in our community.

To report child (or adult) abuse, call 866-ENDHARM in Washington State.