MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Has your little one been kicked out of daycare or school because of their bad behavior? If you're having trouble controlling your child, you're not alone and shouldn't feel that way. There’s a therapy program that’s been clinically studied for 40 years, but now is becoming mainstream.
Christina Warner-Metzger, Ph.D. is a master trainer for Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) at the University of Tennessee’s Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities. She says many parents come to her wondering if their toddler’s tantrums are normal or something more.
She says, “Earlier signs may be if the family has to change their routine and family activities because of the child's behavior. For example, we have families come in and say we don't go to church anymore because our child acts out.”
Warner-Metzger is among few in the world trained to teach PCIT to other licensed clinical psychologists. The doctors work with children 2 to 6 years old.
PCIT is a two phase approach: relationship enhancement then discipline.
Warner-Metzger says, “Parents also think discipline, discipline, discipline and not balancing it out with a positive relationship, but you really need both.”
PCIT therapy works like this, both the therapist and the parents wear ear bugs. The therapist speaks to you through the device and coaches you while watching you play with your child through a one way mirror. They will also go to the grocery store or the playground, places where your children tend act out.
PCIT coaches say children do a lot of negative things just to get your attention. They teach techniques on how and when to give positive feedback to eventually change your child from acting out. For example, if your toddler takes a toy and says "my toy mommy" they may suggest you ignore it, keep playing and a short time later say, "I like when you share."
Warner-Metzger says, “So, when Johnny starts to whine, this is what you do, when he starts to take it up a notch, here's the next step.” She suggests trying to avoid using words like no, stop or quit.
Colby Reed, Ph.D. is PCIT certified and also works at the UT Boling Center.
She says with this eleven week therapy, parents shouldn't feel isolated anymore. PCIT has a 70 percent success rate.
Reed says, “They don’t have to do it alone, they have someone that is there with them as a team as a coach.”
Your insurance may cover part of the therapy. The program is also offered at the Camelot Care Center, Exchange Club Family Center, and Southeast Mental Health Center.