Successful family relationships – how parents AND children need support

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Today’s post is written by Karen Green, who works from The Terrace. Karen is a fully qualified Chartered Clinical Psychologist and is registered with the British Psychological Society (BPS). 

As a clinical psychologist who works with children and families I am faced with a wide range of concerns which have to be considered in the context of individual development, the family and family relationships, friendships groups and schooling.

Children and young people constantly behave in ways which challenge the adults around them and whilst it is part of ‘parenting’ to meet and manage these challenges few of us can do this without any support, ideas and advice from others. Sometimes professional help can be valuable in ‘unlocking’ patterns that have become ‘stuck’ and fraught with negative emotion. This is can be especially difficult when juggling work, family and/or the demands and stress of other issues such as poor health, relationship difficulties and even separation/divorce. Many adult stresses and anxieties can impact on children and young people through their often uncanny radar for parental distress whether or not this is related to obvious relationships problems or less obvious stresses. Parental well-being also affects our tolerance with, for example, teenage challenges for greater control and independence. Other ways children and young people may be impacted are when decisions are being made about them, for example, access/contact with a separated parent.

Even the apparently simplest of problems can actually be complex and distressing for the family. With younger children it is often the parents who are the main source of any change. They may need confidence and space to explore alternative approaches to parenting, for example, a generally anxious or fussy child or one who has a phobia of clowns. Whilst this may initially seem amusing, the restrictiveness on family daily life and the child’s learning and development is no laughing matter. In this case, work was with the family and the child; although individual child work is not always necessary and often more likely with older children and teenagers.

Bringing various members of a family together in a safe and supportive environment can often help to build better communication and understanding of each other. Family strengths are explored along with alternative patterns and approaches to stresses and difficulties. Everyone in the family may need to change their behaviours in some way.

We are really interested in your thoughts about the best way to support parents and children to build successful relationships. Do get in touch with us on post@the-terrace.co.uk or comment below. We look forward to hearing your views.

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