What is Parenting?
Parenting is a difficult but rewarding role in many people's lives. Whether you are a parent of one or more you know that there are struggles that pertain to being a good parent and that sometimes you may need guidance to provide your children with the stable and caring environment they need for a healthy development.
The American Psychological Association definition of parenting has three common goals that are shared around the world of parents. These goals include "ensuring children's health and safety, preparing children for life as productive adults and transmitting cultural values." (3) Other definitions go a step further to say that a "good" parent is a "positive role model, and plays a positive and active part in a child's life. Good parents provide moral and spiritual guidance, set limits, and provide consequences for a child's behavior. Good parents accept responsibility for the total development of the child and guide the child in making sound, healthy, life decisions through open communication and mutual respect." (4)
Integrating Parents in Children's Therapy
The most important, influential adults in a child's life are their parents. Whether your child is under the age of 10, a teenager, or nearing adulthood, you still play a vital role in their lives and can help with successful outcomes in your child's therapy.
When speaking specifically with play therapy, which involves children under the age of 10, "it makes sense for parents to be actively included in the therapeutic process of play therapy. Parents play a vital role in accurate assessment and successful outcomes. Parents consultation creates opportunities for parents to gather information about their child's functioning and learn new ways to help their child be successful at home and at school. At times, the play therapist will invite parents to participate in Filial Therapy training. This training teaches parents how to use play therapy principles and skills to enhance the child-parent relationship. This training may be offered in an individual or group training format." (5)
In play therapy and therapy done with adolescents and children under the age of 18 it is common for times to be set for the therapist and the parents to talk about how the child is doing during therapy sessions and what the parents can due at home to specifically help outside of therapy. Sometimes it can be benefitial for
Tools for Parenting
One of the most important tools you can use when interacting with your children is to know how and when to communicate with them. Kids want to know that they are being heard, understood, and noticed. Parents should be available when their child needs them, know you are listening to them, and respond in a way that makes them feel respected. (2)
Valuable tips The American Psychological Association believes you should keep in mind when communicating with your child begin with being available for your child, which means noticing when they are most likely to want to talk. This could include when they are about to go to bed, before dinner, or whenever you are in the car together. Be the one to start the conversation and ask what is going on in their lives. Be active in their lives and schedule a time where it is just the two of you, or get involved in things they are interested in and spend that time together. Sometimes the best way to start a conversation is not by asking a question but by expressing what you are thinking so that they will not feel bombarded and on the spot. (1)
Another tip to keep in mind as a parent is to let your children know you are listening to what they say by stopping what you are doing and just listen to them. Without being pushy express interest in what they a re saying even if it may be something you do not agree with. Don't interrupt them while they are speaking and repeat them so they can feel like you are indeed listening and understand what was said. (1)
When you are communicating with your child you want to respond in ways that they will hear you, like using "soften strong reactions" because children tend to not listen when they feel the other person is showing anger. Let them know that it is okay to not agree on everything and that one person does not have to be 'right' all the time. And lastly, focus on their feelings when communicating. The last thing to remember is that being present for your children is what matters. (1)
Being an active parent is to validate your child's feelings. When you are validating you are listening, showing that person you understand how they feel, take that person seriously when they are speaking, and that you accept them in every way. "Validation does NOT mean that you agree or that you like what the person is doing, feeling, or saying. Validation is a combination of empathy and acceptance." (1)
Parenting is not an easy task, but it does not have to be an uncomfortable one. You will face challenges and struggles as most of life includes them, but remember a healthy relationship starts with good communication. (3)
- ADAA (online). <https://www.adaa.org/sites/default/files/Harvey%20131.pdf>. April 10, 2014
- APA (online). <http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/communication-parents.aspx>. April 10, 2014
- APA (online). <http://www.apa.org/topics/parenting/>. April 7, 2014
- Google (online). <https://www.wps.k12.va.us/sysinfo/policies/AB.htm>. April 7, 2014
- Dr. Lauren Wynn (online). <https://www.stressmgt.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/play-therapy-with-Dr-Lauren-Wynne.pdf>. April 10, 2014