I have been planning on writing on this topic since I started this blog and am excited to finally share it with you. By far, the greatest blessing I have received is the opportunity to participate in PCIT due to the circumstances surrounding my divorce. PCIT stands for Parent Child Interaction Therapy. It is a two part, hands-on parent training program designed to teach parents how to deal effectively with extreme behavior problems that stem from abuse. You see, children who are abused tend to take out their anger on the non-abusive parent. It is as if the child is saying, “Why didn’t you protect me?”
When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, my oldest daughter started biting, hitting, and kicking me with all her mite. I just chalked it up to jealousy of the new baby on the way. When the hitting never stopped, I blamed myself for not being a stronger parent. Thank goodness that the doctors at Safe and Healthy Families recognized the real problem and recommended that we participate in PCIT.
The critical goal of PCIT is to increase positive, nurturing interactions between parents and their children. PCIT helps to increase parents' behavior management skills and children’s pro-social behaviors through two phases. The first phase is Child Directed Interaction (CDI) where parents let the children lead play therapy sessions while learning PRIDE skills. The second phase is the Parent-Directed Interaction (PDI) where parents have the opportunity to learn and practice effective discipline skills.
This week I want to focus on the Child Directed Interaction piece and PRIDE skills. PRIDE stands for:
Reflection is repeating or paraphrasing what your child says. If a child holds up a crayon and says, “This is blue.” A parent might respond with, “Yes, that is a blue crayon.” This lets your children know that you are really listing to them. In fact, it helped me learn to listen to my children better. It also lets your child know that you understand and accept what they are saying. I remember how awkward it felt at first but after a while it became natural for me to repeat what my children were saying. I even found myself repeating what my co-worker were saying which helped me at work as well.
Imitate means to do the same thing your child is doing. This allows your child to feel like they are leading the play and makes it fun for them. It shows that you approve of the type of activity they have decided upon and gets you playing on their development level. It is a great way to teach your child how to play well with others by encouraging taking turns. Again, being specific is the key to success. It your child decides to draw a tree, you want to copy the picture that they are attempting to draw by also drawing a tree.
Describe is stating exactly what your child is doing. It is like you get to become the sports announcer giving the play by play of everything your child does. Just like imitating your child, describing what they are doing lets them know that you are paying attention to them and that they are leading the play session. Children like to know that you approve of what they are doing. Describing also helps hold your child’s attention to the task they are doing and teaches them how to hold their own attention to a task.
Enthusiasm shows your child that you are excited to be playing with them and increases the warmth of your play. Everyone has more fun if you let your voice show how excited you are to be there.
The thing that I loved most about PCIT is that it used all three learning models to drive home the learning objectives. I know all too well as a corporate trainer that people only remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 50% of what they see and hear. However, when you add a bit of practice to that, they are more likely to remember 80% of what they see, hear, and do. During Phase I, I would learn one of the PRIDE skills per week then go home and practice just that one skill. Then when we went back to class, we would spend time playing together to show that I had mastered that skill. If I had not mastered the skill of the week, we would work on it during class and then go home and practice it again for a week until I could pass it off. What I found is that if I spent at least 5 minutes every night playing with my daughter one on one and practicing just one skill, I did much better. The key though was to make sure that I had no distractions. I had to force myself to turn off the TV, and ignore ringing phones, laundry buzzers letting me know it was time to change laundry, and many other regular duties that I had to accomplish. I had to find a balance between spending enough time on my house work and spending enough time with my children. The time spent with my children was by far worth the little bit dirtier house that I ended up with.
By the end of Phase I, I was singing PCIT praises and telling all my friends about it. I truly think that every parent should have the opportunity to go through this type of program before their children develop behavior problems. In fact, I would love to go through it again; this time with my youngest child.
I hope you enjoyed reading this week. Definitely let me know if you try any of the skills listed here and how they work out for you.