Parenting is known to be the toughest job in the world. You can love your child but still struggle to control your wrath over their challenging behaviors. You might be proud of your child but might feel embarrassed by their behaviors when in public. You might try your best to control or manage your child’s destructive behavior but fail to see any positive change in them.
All this can leave you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and helpless. But what if there was a way to fix it? What if a tell you there is a specific kind of treatment for it? Yes, it’s called PCIT. So, what exactly is PCIT? Parent-Child Interactive Therapy is evidence and behavior-based family-oriented therapy that is done with the intention of improving the parent-child relationship.
In simple terms, it is an evidence-based treatment for children who have behavioral issues. It is done via coaching methodology. This technique of interactive behavioral therapy facilitates effective parenting skills in the parents and reduces the frequency and intensity of the child’s problematic behaviors. It ultimately leads to the strengthening of the parent-child relationship.
Suppose you are wondering who this is for. Well, this therapy is effective for children who have had an experience with abuse or have behavioral issues. The coaching of the parent is done live via videoconferencing, where the therapist observes them the entire time.
During this process, the parent wears a Bluetooth device so that they can receive real-time feedback given by the therapist. This enables them to act upon the suggestions given by the therapist. It eventually leads to the facilitation of effective behavior in the child.
A Quick Definition
PCIT International defines “Parent-Child Interactive Therapy as an evidence-based treatment for young children with behavioral problems conducted through ‘coaching’ sessions.”
The Two Phases
This therapy-based treatment is designed to help parents improve their parenting skills and facilitate a child’s better control over themselves. This therapy method consists of two phases – Relationship Enhancement and Discipline and Compliance.
The first phase is primarily focused on fostering a positive and healthy relationship between the child and the parent. This is essential to reduce the frequency and severity of the child’s behavioral issues. How is it done?
In this phase, the parent is guided as to how they can break the dysfunctional cycles they are currently engaged in with their child. They are then coached as to how they can interact with their child in a more positive and healthy manner.
In simple words, the Relationship Enhancement phase is focused on developing the communication and new behaviors needed for better cooperation between the parent-child.
Discipline and Compliance
The second phase is Discipline and Compliance. The parent is taught to better handle the issues of the child. They are taught how, instead of reacting negatively, they can react in a calm way. This de-escalates the child, and they are able to trust their parents more.
This phase is focused primarily on teaching the parents the specific skills and techniques required to address the child’s behavioral issues in a healthy manner. They need to set clear and healthy boundaries with their child.
The main goal of this phase is to cause improvement in the child’s behavior and regulation of the emotions exhibited by the parents.
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The Different Techniques
The techniques used in PCIT are designed in a way that helps both parent and child in their own ways to cope with the issue. Let’s understand these techniques by dividing them into 2 phases:
- Relationship Enhancement
The first phase, i.e., Relationship Enhancement, is directed more toward the child. In this phase, the child has the autonomy of deciding the toys they want to play with in the playroom, and the parent is expected to play along with them. During this process, the parent is expected to use the positive reinforcement skills taught to him/her by the therapist previously. These skills are represented in the form of an acronym PRIDE:
- Praise – It involves praising the child for their good behavior.
- Reflection – It involves repeating and expanding upon the child’s words leading to better communication between them.
- Imitation – It involves showing the child approval by mimicking the child’s actions.
- Description – This involves parents describing or narrating the child’s behavior to build the child’s vocabulary.
- Enjoyment – This involves demonstrating enthusiasm for the child’s behavior.
This stage also encourages the parent to ignore the child’s negative behavior if they aren’t harmful. They are also told to refrain from using negative words like don’t, can’t, etc. They are told not to use sarcasm or criticism for their child.
- Discipline and Compliance
This phase is directed more towards the parents and hence they take the lead. In this phase, the parents are coached to provide direct instructions to children that are easy for them to understand. The parents must also set clear and consistent repercussions for following or not following the instructions.
Let’s understand this with an example. Suppose the child happily picks up the toys lying on the floor and puts them in their respective places. The parent should respond in a way that acknowledges and appreciates the child efforts.
For example, the parent can say, “Thank you so much for picking up your toys and keeping them in the right place.” If the child fails to do so, the parent should respond in a way that shows the child that there would be specific repercussions for defiance. In this case, the parent can say something like, “Pick up your toys, or you will have to take time out.”
How Effective Is It?
PCIT is highly effective in treating the child’s behavioral issues and leads to improvement in parent-child dynamics. There is a lot of research to support this claim. In fact, this treatment is found to be effective even for a child who is 14 months old.
Here is how this therapy is effective for both the child and parent:
- It fosters a positive and healthy relationship between the child and the parent.
- It helps in the development of positive strategies for child-rearing in the parents.
- It drastically reduces the chance of child abuse at both physical and verbal levels.
- It fosters positive interactions within the family.
- It drastically reduces the child’s problematic issues like aggressive behavior, defiance, anger issues, etc.
Seek Parenting Therapy from a Trusted Provider with Docvita
So, if you are a parent having a hard time correcting your child’s problematic behavior, and you feel utterly helpless about it, reach out to us for help instantly. We at DocVita have various specialists from different fields that can help you manage and cope with this issue through coaching. All you need to do is hop on to DocVita’s book from the therapist page and book your first session.