Evaluation of Family Relationships



All parents strive to create an atmosphere of harmony, cooperation and mutual respect in their families.  Sometimes, however, this ideal seems difficult to achieve.  Instead daily life may be dominated by frequent conflicts over such things as bedtimes, media consume, school related topics, sibling rivalry, table manners or non-compliance with family rules and disregard for others feelings and property.  Such chronic conflicts often makes parents feel helpless, frustrated and angry.  After all, they give so much love and care to their children, often at the expense of their own needs – why do their children not appreciate their efforts and simply cooperate!  Initially, parents may try to handle such conflicts with patience, diplomacy and by “reasoning” with their children.  But when these strategies don’t work, they may try to force compliance by taking away privileges or using some other kind of mild to harsh punishment.  This is where the vicious circle of coercion and non-compliance begins to dominate parent-child interactions.

High levels of stress tend to pervade in such families.  This will eventually take its toll.  The worst consequence is when parents begin to doubt their own effectiveness as a parent.  This may lead to either resignation and emotional withdrawal from the relationship with the child or to excessive strictness and the use of punishment in an effort to get the child to be “reasonable”.   Both extreme reactions will have a detrimental effect on the quality of the parent-child relationship.  Unfortunately, severely strained parent-child relationships seldom heal by themselves in the course of time.  Parents who wait too long before seeking professional guidance;  or those who don’t seek professional help; or those who are willing to send their “difficult” child/adolescent to therapy – but are not willing to question whether their own parenting behaviour and/or attitude towards this “difficult” child is maybe contributing to the child’s developmental difficulties, forfeit the chance to repair the damaged parent-child relationship before it becomes unrepairable.   The younger the child is when the first signs of a chronically strained parent-child relationship can no longer be explained as a passing phase,  the better the chances of changing this relationship into a into a loving, caring, rewarding and cooperative relationship.  The parent will feel competent and confident in his/her role as a parent and the child will experience optimal conditions for mastering his or her developmental tasks from infancy to adulthood under the benevolent care and guidance of competent and proud parents.

I offer several forms of parent-child relationship therapy, depending on the age of the “difficult” child or children.  For the parents of very young children (infancy to 6+), I offer parent coaching.  This intervention focuses on teaching the parent how to create a strong and emotionally secure bond between her or himself and the infant, toddler or the pre-school child by improving their sensitivity to the child’s basic emotional and physical needs and finding ways to satisfy those needs.  Once this foundation is securely established, the parent is then coached in the process of kindly but firmly setting boundaries regarding what the child is allowed to do and what he/she is not allowed to do (this is a basic need of all children.  It helps them feel confident that their parents know how to keep them safe).  This includes teaching the young child to accept and follow social rules and to begin to learn to exercise self-control (to an age-appropriate degree).  These are social competence skills that even very young children can learn to that they can keep themselves safe and relate happily and successfully with other children and adults, including those outside of the family circle.   The ability to accept and abide by social rules and to exercise some degree of self-control in childhood are life coping skills that in adolescent years mature into chat is then called “self-discipline”, “frustration tolerance”, “emotional resilience”) and to develop age-appropriate levels of emotional and practical independence.

For the parents of children aged 6 to 12 (middle childhood years), parent-child relationship therapy focuses more on identifying and changing destructive communication styles and attitudes towards each other.  The emotional quality of the parent-child relationship of children of these ages can be improved relatively easily emotional