Parenting & Child Therapy

Ever felt stressed about your kids and how to be a better parent? Ever argued with your partner about how to discipline your kids? Ever felt guilty or ashamed for the ways you’ve treated your kids? Lots of parents and couples have.

I work with and teach a mixture of three parenting models that can make life for everyone much easier – Positive Parenting with a Plan (or P3), Love and Logic, and Common Sense Parenting, but I emphasize P3. These models have two common themes – structure and positive parenting. Kids and the elderly have one characteristic in common – they do much better if they have structure in their lives. Interestingly, families – adults and kids alike – also do much better if they have structure.

Parenting is easy, lots of books say so. But the three above, especially P3, really do work. Parenting is, in many respects, the toughest job any adult ever has and often comes with the least amount of preparation or training. As parents, we’re responsible for teaching and modeling positive attitudes and relationships – respect for others, trust, open-mindedness, calmness, open and honest communication, politeness, to name just a few. Parents also have to model, promote, and encourage positive attributes in their children – things like work ethic, healthy behavior, self-discipline, critical thinking and ability to think for oneself, lifelong curiosity and learning … again naming just a few. It’s a very tough act and we all make mistakes as parents. And it can be tougher for a single parent. There  are, however, ways to be a better parent and actually enjoy life, your family, and your kids.

Believe it or not, every adult on the planet has had parenting classes. We all learned how to be parents from our own parents. Sometimes those lessons were pretty good … and sometimes not. If we had poor lessons, we may have vowed to never treat our kids the way our parents treated us. And that works pretty good … until we’re stressed, get angry, and we revert to old lessons; repeating what we’d promised ourselves we’d never do to our own kids. That can lead to guilt, shame, self-recrimination, and family dysfunction. It doesn’t have to be this way. It is fixable.

Good parenting is a bit like a benevolent dictatorship. We’re the parents, we make the rules, rules will be followed or there will be consequences, but there has to be some flexibility. Rules have to be realistic and fair for our kids’ ages and developmental stages. And as parents we cannot be our child’s best friend. We can’t be parents – teaching, modeling good behavior and relationships, imposing rules and consequences – if we’re also trying to be our child’s best friend. This doesn’t mean we can’t play with, read to, or simply talk with our kids. But as parents we need to be authoritative – demanding yet also supportive and involved – and not rejecting, neglectful or uninvolved, not permissive (my child’s best friend), and not authoritarian (rigid).

If you’d like to learn more about why we as parents do what we do vs. effective and positive parenting check out our Resources page.

Child Therapy
Kids are not little adults. They don’t and can’t think like adults. They react differently than adults to stress. And they need parents’ help to cope with stress and any associated emotions they encounter in life.

Many things we deal with effectively as adults – stress, relationships, traumatic events – are beyond the cognitive and emotional capability of kids. Kids can and often do react in a variety of ways that concern us as parents. Doesn’t necessarily mean we’re bad parents, in fact quite the opposite.

But as a result of our parental concern, kids often receive a variety of diagnoses and treatments that are incorrect and unneeded; diagnoses like ADHD, oppositional defiant, OCD, bipolar, personality disorders, conduct disorder, phobias, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, etc. They also often receive a cocktail of psychiatric medications with all their side effects. Psychiatric medications work in kids just like they do in adults – they mask symptoms without addressing the underlying cause. Medications may be needed for initial stability, but they can’t cure a problem.

The Process
I work with children within a family context. That means mom and/or dad will be involved in the therapy and siblings/extended family may also be involved. I do an age-appropriate assessment of the child, and also do an assessment with mom and dad. We’ll develop a family treatment plan together and then begin therapy.

Therapy with children and families can be very open-ended. Typically, therapy will run for 10 sessions and possibly more. We’ll focus initially on safety for the child, parents, and other family members, and then move into specific areas.

My focus in therapy is on what’s happened to the child, not so much on what’s wrong with the child. Therapy will vary depending on the emotional age and developmental stage of the child. It will also change if there are marital problems or histories of trauma to the child, history of trauma to either or both parents, or any other member of the family.

Have more questions or want additional information? Send me an email asking for a free consultation. Include your availability in the coming week and I’ll respond within 24 hours with a day and time that works for both of us.