TORONTO- The workers at the Child Development Institute have spent 29 years trying to keep kids out of trouble and in school.
“We have three major streams, family violence, early intervention and healthy child development,” said Dr. Leena Augimeri, the program’s director of scientific and program development.
Augimeri is also the creator of SNAP (Stop Now and Plan).
“SNAP is actually used to help children and families, specifically children under the age of 12, for emotion regulation, self control, and problem solving,” said Augimeri.
Scientifically tested and refined over the past 29 years, SNAP helps children to think before they act, with a goal of keeping kids in school and out of trouble.
“It is like a stop light,” said Augimeri. “The red light is where you get the kids to stop, take a deep breath. The yellow light is where you use your thinking. The green light is where you come up with a plan, it makes your problem smaller, you feel okay, and not hurt anyone.”
Paul Henry, a researcher at the institute specializing in services for children with disruptive behaviour problems, was a former client of SNAP.
“I was 11, there was a lot of issues; pretty covert behavior, lying, stealing, manipulating,” said Henry. “SNAP has helped me in so many ways. It has given me a foundation, gave me skills to stop and learn how to think before I act. Really important fundamental skills for anybody.”
Henry is currently working in collaboration with the University of Toronto on a five-year research study on children’s truth and lie telling behaviours.
“If a child is lying more and more than what’s socially acceptable, that could be a warning sign that they are heading down a path of problem behavior,” said Henry.
SNAP programs are gender sensitive and centered around easy to learn techniques.
“It’s not only a child rehabilitation program, it’s a parent rehabilitation program. They’re learning the steps to change their behaviour and so are we,” said Marlene Tremplay, a parent and SNAP participant.
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