A transactional model exists between a parent and a child. A child is born with sensitivities and emotional reactivity that can stress an environment, especially when the environment is not well suited to meet the child’s needs. Meaning, the interaction between the child’s behavior and the parent’s reaction to it can further emotionally dysregulate the child if the environment is unable to respond appropriately. This leads to a vicious cycle.
Children with self-regulation difficulties or mood disorders are at a greater risk to receive negative interactions from their social worlds (i.e., parents focusing on what their child is not doing or teacher’s frequently redirecting their behaviors), which impacts their self-esteem because they feel they are always getting into trouble. These children/adolescents tend to receive mixed reactions from their social world which leads to internal confusion and lack of trust in their feelings. This directly impacts their self-esteem and relationships as they develop.
One step, parents and children can take to break the vicious cycle and provide a positive alternative is by incorporating “connected check-in” time daily.
What is connected check in time? It is special time set aside daily for 10-15 minutes.
· During this time, the parent follows the child and/or adolescent’s lead in whatever play or topic of conversation the child/adolescent chooses.
· This time is special because it is free of demands, directives by parents, consequences, requests, judgments, or feedback.
· Instead, the parent’s role is to actively listen, observe their child’s/adolescent’s words and behaviors, validate their child’s/adolescent’s feelings, provide positive labeled praise (i.e., I really like how well you explained or showed me that toy/topic), and reflect the child/adolescent’s words back to them, so they feel understood.
· Often children with self-regulation and mood disorders feel their feelings have been invalidated by being told “you’re overreacting,” “it is not that big of a deal,” or “calm down.”
**By having the parent join in on whatever activity or topic the child and/or adolescent would like to engage in and providing positive labeled praise and reflecting what your child has said validates their experience and offers a positive alternative.
· Connected check in time improves the child’s and/or adolescent’s self-esteem by allowing them to be in control and have positive interactions with their parents instead of arguing. It strengthens the parent child relationship because it offers a time to repair the relationship and work as a team.
If you have any questions, please contact our office.
Tali Frankfort, PsyD
Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellow
NJ Permit #213-056