This post is LONG overdo! Last February I wrote about some of the challenges we were facing and our decision to start Parent Child Interaction Therapy. You can read that post here.
Well, we completed PCIT months ago and I have yet to write a post about our experience. Oops!
When we decided to start PCIT we were at a loss on how to best handle some of Jackson’s behaviors.
Honestly, I felt like I was failing as a mom.
My husband, who’s a neuropsychologist, had seen first-hand how successful PCIT can be.
PCIT is a dyadic behavioral intervention for children (ages 2.0 – 7.0 years) and their parents or caregivers that focuses on decreasing externalizing child behavior problems (e.g., defiance, aggression), increasing child social skills and cooperation, and improving the parent-child attachment relationship.
We chose to give it a try because we wanted to find something that worked for our son. We wanted to discipline him in a positive way and set him up for success. We wanted him to have the social skills and self-regulating techniques to help him overcome the aggression and behavioral challenges that come with having Dyspraxia, Apraxia, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.
I’ll admit I wasn’t sure it would work.
I was very skeptical.
But we put in the hard work – and it was very hard at times – and we succeeded.
Here are five things PCIT taught me…
I Do Not Have A Defiant Child
I have a child with a unique set of challenges, but deep down I know he wants to make the right choices. He wants to be praised. How do I know this? I can see it when his eyes sparkle after he’s completed a task, been obedient or listened well.
PCIT reaffirmed what I already knew – Jackson wasn’t misbehaving out of spite – he was struggling and needed our help!
One day as we were leaving Target, I was praising Jackson and using some of the skills I had learned in PCIT.
Jackson, you did such a great job listening to Mom while we were in the store. I’m proud of you for leaving the toy aisle in a calm way.
Jackson was so proud of himself. His smile was radiant.
Just like therapy, Mom!
That was a defining moment for me. I knew PCIT was working for our family!
It’s ALWAYS Okay To Ask For Help
Maybe I should have started with this one. Special needs parents can often feel completely alone in their struggles.
I found myself in that place last February. I felt alone and helpless. I didn’t know what to do to help my son.
If you feel that way, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
When we sat down with the child psychologist and explained our concerns, she didn’t think we were crazy. She didn’t judge us. She provided us with the tools and resources we needed to thrive!
It’s All In The Way You Word Things
PCIT is all about praise! Asking questions if frowned upon. It was very hard for me to shift my way of communicating with Jackson. I asked a lot of questions. I think part of the reason is because I had spent years trying to get him to talk! Those early Child Directed Play sessions were brutal. I felt like I was failing as one question after another fell from my lips.
But I kept practicing. I worked on praising him and describing what he was doing. I eventually got the hang of this new way of communicating with my son and it really did make a world of difference.
Five Minutes A Day Can Change Everything
I rolled my eyes when we were told we had to dedicate five minutes of special time to Jackson each day. After all, I spent every waking moment interacting with my kid. What was five minutes really going to accomplish? Well, it accomplished a lot! During those five minutes of child directed play, as I praised Jackson and used our PCIT skills, our relationship grew deeper. Jackson was so incredibly happy! Those five uninterrupted minutes meant the WORLD to him.
I also watched his language skyrocket. Even our therapist was floored by how much his language skills improved during our time in therapy. He blossomed. His sense of humor took center stage! He had his therapist, John and I rolling on many occasions. He was comfortable and secure and happy and that allowed the words to flow freely! We got to have a ton of fun with our awesome kid!
The Right Time Out System Does Work
PCIT is based on time outs. When we first started therapy, Jackson was having a hard time regulating himself. Time outs were brutal! It wasn’t long after we began implementing special time at home and attending weekly PCIT sessions, that time out became a completely different experience. Jackson would sit on his bed and he knew his body had to be “a one” before he could come out of his room. There were no tears, screaming or aggressive behaviors. The skills we were learning in PCIT worked!
I am so glad I took a change on PCIT! It was exactly what our family needed during a really difficult season. For more information about Parent Child Interaction Therapy, click here.