Addressing Behavioral Issues with Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) – How It Works

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) was created to improve the relationship you have with your child. It uses child-directed interaction couple with coaching to teach different parenting techniques.

PCIT also helps to reduce any problematic behavioral issues you might be facing with your child. As a result, your relationship with your child/children and the entire family can grow stronger.

But, how does PCIT actually work? And who can it benefit?

If you’ve never heard about this type of family-oriented therapy, it could be the solution you’re looking for to find answers regarding your child’s behavior.

Who Benefits from PCIT?

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy can benefit any parent seeking to develop a healthier, stronger relationship with their child. But it’s often most beneficial for children who have certain types of behavioral issues.

For example, children who exhibit noncompliance, tantrums, anger, or even aggression are a great fit. Parents who feel overwhelmed by their child’s behavior and confused about how to make changes benefit greatly. This model teaches specific skills that can be put into action from the first session. The whole family can find deeper connection and harmony with the use of these tools.

How Does PCIT Work?

The goal of PCIT is to reduce any behavioral issues in children and to create a better environment in the home. Ultimately, negative behaviors should turn into positive patterns.

There are two stages involved with PCIT.

The first aims to enhance your relationship with your child. Throughout this phase, a therapist will observe how you naturally interact and play with your child. They offer you coaching on techniques throughout this process to ensure that positive interactions continue to get better over time. The therapist will make note of these changes and chart how effectively progress is being made. They will also help you to address your own negative patterns and behaviors with your child.

The second stage of PCIT involves various disciplinary approaches to use with your child. Different techniques can help your child to improve their negative behaviors and start to develop more positive ones. By implementing these methods every day, the idea is that the negative behaviors will continuously diminish over time and appropriate behaviors will increase. Skills that are missing can be directly taught, such as requesting, manners, coping tools, and self-help skills.

How Does PCIT Help?

Perhaps the most important part of PCIT is the relationship enhancement stage. It allows you to improve your own parenting skills while helping your child learn how to keep their emotions under control.

It is effective because it allows the child to direct the play, while building in specific goals.  For example, if they choose to play with a specific toy, you’ll play along with that toy and use the skills suggested to you by the therapist. This includes praising your child for positive behaviors and showing your enthusiasm for what they’re doing.

You’ll also learn to help your child better communicate their feelings by communicating your own as you play. You can describe what you’re doing together, which will boost your child’s vocabulary. As a result, they’ll be more likely to be able to express themselves through their words, rather than acting out negatively.

If your child is struggling with negative behaviors and you’re not sure what to do, contact us for more information.

It can be humbling to have to learn different parenting and behavioral techniques. But it may be the best way to truly connect and interact with your child. When you’re able to do that, you can continue to encourage positive behaviors at home. And, as that starts to happen, your entire family will benefit!

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