Therapeutic Parenting Isn’t Complicated!
Parenting hurt kids is hard! There is no question about it. The stuff our kids can come up with, and the extreme behaviors they seem to pull out of nowhere can be mind blowing and maddening at best.
Anyone who has tried to do it for any length of time likely also knows that “run of the mill” doesn’t work. Consequences don’t work. Rewards don’t work. The methods we were raised with or even that we successfully used with our other kids most likely doesn’t work either. In fact, all of these things may even make things worse for our struggling kids.
Special kids need special parenting
Our special kids need specialized, or more appropriately, therapeutic parenting that is designed to help reduce fear responses, promote attachment and healing, and help rewire neural pathways that were damaged by trauma exposure.
If you’re a parent of struggling kids and have been around the trauma parent communities, you’ve likely heard of therapeutic parenting. Unlike when we first adopted our kids, there are now a lot of people out there now talking about it. There are many voices, ideas, opinions, strategies, approaches, and methods. Some of those ideas are very good and do work well, especially when they are implemented correctly and things are done in the proper order. There are also others that are very bad, not at all “therapeutic” or healing, will only promote more chaos and dysfunction, and if they’re not careful, can even land parents in legal hot water!
Trying to weed through all of it and figure out what is what and how to make it work for your unique situation can be mind boggling and overwhelming. Let’s untangle it!
What exactly IS therapeutic parenting?
The very first thing we need to understand is what TRUE therapeutic parenting really is.
Therapeutic Parenting: A high nurture/high structure style of parenting designed to promote healing through connection and relationship.
That’s it. That’s all. It isn’t complicated a list of rules or strategies of what to do or not do. Nor is it turning a blind eye to poor behavior or letting kids rule the roost or do whatever they want all in the name of “love” (or let’s be honest…exhaustion). It is, however, lots of love, grace, patience, understanding, and guidance combined with very strong boundaries that keep everyone safe.
Why is therapeutic parenting important?
Kids who have been hurt don’t instinctively know how to engage in healthy relationships. From their perspective, big people hurt kids, not love them. They need to be taught something different. The ultimate goal of therapeutic parenting is to reduce fear-based responses and behavior and help them understand appropriate human interactions by promoting healing through connection and relationship.
There is no one right or wrong way to do it, as long as that end goal is in mind. It is, however, a learned skill and will likely will take a lot of trial, error, and practice to get it right. It’s also never too late to turn things around, though. Just start where you are and remember what the purpose is.
The goal isn’t to control or break a child’s spirit. It’s to promote healing that lasts and helping kids learn to trust enough to have successful relationships, not just with you as a mom, but ultimately with everyone. They’ll never learn the latter until they learn the first, though. That’s why attachment and building connection with mom is so important.
Now it’s your turn!
How do you balance the need for both structure and nurture…or what questions do you have about making it happen? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Are you looking for more help and support in this area? Check out the Parent Transformation Academy! Its what we do over there!