If you’ve felt overwhelmed by your child’s behavior in the past, then you know just how isolating it can feel.
Have you received frequent calls from your child’s school because of their behavior? Do you feel nervous being in public with your child for fear of a tantrum? Can you get nothing done at home because you are constantly managing negative behaviors? Do you find yourself feeling embarrassed about your child’s behaviors?
If you can say “yes” to some or all of those questions, you and your child may benefit from Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).
This powerful, hands-on form of therapy can help bridge the gap of emotional understanding between parents and young children. Furthermore, it can help you get a better grasp on your child’s behavior and know how to react when disruptive behavior flares up.
Understanding Parent-Child Interaction Therapy*
As PCIT International notes, “PCIT is an evidence-based treatment for young children with behavioral problems.” This could include such issues as screaming, destructive behavior (i.e. intentionally breaking things), hyperactivity (ADHD), tantrums, etc.
Through “coaching” sessions, a therapist will watch how you and your child interact and will help you manage your child’s disruptive behavior and improve your relationship. Via a “bug-in-ear” device, the therapist will give you immediate tips on how to mediate the situation with your child. Throughout this process, you will soon see your relationship with your child improve and will feel more confident in managing their behaviors.
PCIT Treatment Phases
PCIT is carried out in two distinct treatment phases which entail two sets of goals.
The first phase will further establish the relationship between you and your child. Not only will the therapist note how you two interact, but they will give you tips to increase your child’s positive behaviors. By allowing space for warmth, positive reinforcement, and security, your child will be more inclined to adjust their behaviors.
Some goals of phase one are:
- Fewer tantrums (and those that do occur are less severe)
- Increased closeness and attachment to you, the primary caregiver
- Higher levels of self-esteem and attention span
- Increased prosocial behaviors (such as sharing) and decreased negative behaviors (such as whining)
- Less frustration for you, the parent
With the goals of phase one firmly accomplished, phase two of PCIT can begin. The second phase is more focused on allowing you to manage your child’s most difficult behaviors, all while remaining calm. In essence, during this state, “you will learn proven strategies to help your child accept your limits, comply with your directions, respect house rules, and demonstrate appropriate behavior in public,” explains PCIT International.
The goals of phase two include:
- Increased respect for rules and adult requests
- Better public behavior and fewer tantrums
- Fewer episodes of destructive behavior
- Decreased severity and frequency of aggressive and defiant behaviors
Long-Term Benefits of PCIT
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is typically completed within 12 to 20 sessions, according to PCIT International. Upon completion, you and your child will have the skills to successfully navigate your future relationship.
Instead of fearing a tantrum in public, you will be able to move forward with confidence that you can handle negative behaviors when they arise. Your child will feel more trust and comfort in you as their caretaker and will be more willing to comply with your rules.
Overall, PCIT will help you and your child establish a healthy, functional, and loving parent/child relationship.
Seeking Out PCIT
If you feel that you and your child may benefit from PCIT, reach out to a certified PCIT therapist. The longer your child’s negative behavior goes on, the more difficult it will be to correct it. Unfortunately, most children do not outgrow disruptive behavior.
It will take some work, but PCIT is a proven way to establish productive behaviors for both you and your child. You don’t have to dread your child’s tantrums any longer. Don’t put up with stressful conduct any longer—your child’s behavior can absolutely improve! Please, feel free to reach out to schedule an appointment or free consultation call to discuss your options.
(*Note: The information about PCIT in this post is referenced from PCIT International.)