Troubleshooting parenting skills and difficulties are among the top questions and struggles that come up with Play Therapists and therapists that work with kids. Often it’s easier to know what to do in session than how to support parents and parenting outside of session.
If you struggle with this too - you're in the right place. Grab a cup of coffee, get cozy, and dive into 16 of my best resources, downloads, handouts, and skills for working with parents and caregiver systems!
I broke these resources down into three categories: Understanding Behavior and Meeting Needs, Parenting Skills: Co-Regulation, Parenting Skills: For When There Is A Problem, and Parenting Mindset Shifts! Let's dive in!
Understanding Behavior and Meeting Needs
Understand what’s underneath the behavior
Use this free download HERE to learn about the four basic emotional needs and to help identify the need that is underneath the behavior!
Help parents meet emotional needs
Sometimes when there isn’t a clear connection between a child’s behavior and what they hope the desired outcome will be, it can be tough to navigate through the situation. Check out these ideas and examples HERE for how parents can meet the need underneath the behavior.
Help parents identify what escalated behaviors actually mean
Sometimes when kids don’t feel like grownups are “getting it” they turn up the volume. This is typically frustrating for parents and can lead to some misguided thoughts about what is actually going on. Check out how to de-code escalating behavior HERE!
Learn that all kids need attention
Attention isn’t a dirty word, yet, in therapy sessions we often hear things like “she’s just doing it for attention”. Learn how to re-frame attention and help parents understand that attention and connection are an essential need.
Teach validation skills
Validation is one of the parenting superpowers, and it can be one of the most under-utilized skills. Learn the power of validation, how it helps meet children’s needs, and the 6 steps to use when validating children HERE!
Clear up any misunderstandings about validation
Parents can be hesitant to use validation because of some of the thoughts and beliefs they have about validation and what it means. Check out how to bust these myths with parents HERE!
Help parents avoid the one word that leads straight to invalidation
Ugh - it happens too often to very well meaning parents. They engage in a beautiful validation statement and then with one teeny tiny word, it takes a hard left into invalidation. And all of those beautiful words and hard work goes out the window in the eyes of a child. Check out what words to avoid HERE!
Parenting Skills: Co-Regulation
One of the most foundational parenting skills (and most difficult) is the skill of co-regulation. Check out this roundup HERE of the top 6 parenting skills, techniques, and downloads!
Parenting Skills: When There Is A Problem
Help parents identify the difference helpful and unhelpful parenting skills
Often times parents come to therapy with a set of skills likely passed down to them by parents, community, and culture. Some of these skills are brilliant and amazing. An others? Well… let’s just say they aren’t so effective. Check out the differences HERE!
Use reinforcement in times of success
This is another parenting superpower that is often underused! One of the biggest things parents can do is find times of success and reinforce what is going well to strengthen THIS behavior instead of chasing the unhelpful and undesirable behaviors when they flair up. Check out more about how to use reinforcement with parents HERE!
Help parents understand the power of reinforcement vs. punishment for behavioral change
Oftentimes parents want to focus on what isn’t going right, when actually putting effort and energy into the times things are going well can be exponentially more effective. Check out more about the power of reinforcement HERE!
Unpack the differences between consequences and punishment
Are they the same? Should parents use one over the other? Check out more about the differences between consequences and punishment HERE!
Identify the different types of consequences and how to troubleshoot when natural consequences are hard to find
Did you know there are different categories for consequences? And the most effective? Natural consequences! These, however, can at times be elusive in the complicated world we live in. Check out more about the different types of consequences and how to troubleshoot when natural consequences are hard to find!
Parenting Mindset Shifts
Parents can’t be attached to outcomes
This is one of the biggest mindset shifts and challenges in parenting. Parents want their children to succeed, to do well, and to feel good. It’s completely understandable that parents can get attached to outcomes. Check out this essential mindset shift and why parents can’t be attached to outcomes.
It’s necessary for kids to struggle
Okay… I’m talking about age appropriate struggle here. But in a world where parents might have the means and ability to solve kids problems, check out HERE why it is important for kids to struggle through their difficulties and solve their problems.
Understand when to step and and when to let kids solve their own problems
See note on *it’s necessary for kids to struggle* and the disclaimer of “age appropriate struggle”. So when should parents step in and when should kids solve it on their own? Check out support for how to troubleshoot this question HERE!
There you have it - my master list of 16 parenting techniques, guides, downloads, and skills! Be sure to bookmark this link to come back to as a resource!
If you are looking for more support in your work with parents and caregivers in the playroom check out my course Holding Systems: Supporting Parents and Caregivers in The Playroom!
I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,