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Step-Up focuses on the following five areas of skill development to build respectful family relationships:

Safe Behaviors
Youth develop a ‘Safety Plan’ including steps they will take to stay safe when they are angry and escalated. They identify their ‘Red Flags’ or warning signs that let them know they are heading toward using hurtful behaviors or words. Youth and parents work together to make a plan to disengage and take a break when conflict turns to disrespect or abuse. The Respect Wheel and Abuse/Disrespect Wheel are tools used in group each week to help youth monitor their own behaviors at home. Teens make weekly goals with a plan about the skills they will use at home to help them stay safe and “on the Respect Wheel”.
Once teens and parents learn the skill of disengaging from conflict, they learn to self-sooth and calm the physical arousal and feelings of anger, frustration and anxiety they are often left with after they separate. They learn a variety of tools for self-calming and emotion regulation.
Respectful Communication
Throughout the program, teens and parents learn about the meaning of respect – what it looks like and feels like, and how it impacts relationships. They learn step-by-step techniques for how to communicate with others in a respectful way, even when there is disagreement and difficult emotions. Youth and parents practice and role play solving a problem using respectful communication and listening skills.
Self-Awareness of Thinking, Feelings and Behavior
Understanding the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behavior helps youth recognize their unhelpful perceptions that contribute to difficult feelings and behavioral choices. Youth examine their negative thinking and ‘self-talk’, and learn how to change it to more helpful thinking that reduces their anxiety and reactivity to situations.
Responsibility for Behavior
Youth in Step-Up develop skills for taking active responsibility for harm they have caused through a process called ‘Restorative Inquiry’. In dialogue with their parents they talk about who was effected by their behavior, what harm was done to others and themselves, and what they will do to repair the harm, damage or loss and ‘make amends’. Youth also write a ‘Responsibility Letter’ and ‘Empathy Letter’ to a person they were violent toward (usually the incident that brought them to the program) that they read at their last Step-Up session.