Thoughts on Parents and Children

Dr. Lisa has been providing therapy to children, parents and families since 1989. The knowledge and beliefs she acquired through these relationships have become foundational and influence her approach to therapy. Gleaned from experience, Dr. Lisa’s principles for effective family therapy are shared below.

The Gold Standard of Parent-Child Relationships

  • A secure and nurturing parent-child relationship precedes a child’s optimal growth and well-being.
  • The impact of parental communications, interactions, and the parent’s demonstration of their commitment are invaluable contributions to their child’s evolution into maturity.
  • Parents model respectful values that toddlers imitate and adopt later as children; e.g., generosity, problem solving, communication, respect, self-restraint, tolerance, and gratitude.
  • Within the relationship with their parents a child learns empathy, kindness, safety and how to calm themselves. They learn how to organize their thoughts, how to identify, name, and express their feelings, and how to cope when life presents difficult days.

The Essence of Childhood

  • Children of all ages want to grow, belong, feel loved, useful, safe, and be happy. They want to share, love others, contribute, trust, make friends, create, play, plan, and make good, safe decisions. Why? Because, this is the essence of who they are.

Bumps in the Road – Are the Wheels Coming Off?

  • When a parent is confused by a child’s behavior, their child is also probably feeling confused, and unable to communicate about what they are feeling. This may explain the reason why when parents ask “why did you do that?” children often respond, “I don’t know.” Often they really don’t know why. This is a parent’s cue that their child needs help.
  • When a child is struggling in response to an invisible obstacle, interpreting the “why” of that child’s behavior is more difficult for parents and teachers, because they can’t see the context of the child’s behavior. Examples of invisible obstacles to optimal functioning and happiness include: an undetected learning disability, undisclosed abuse, genetic inheritance, internal mental conflicts, or subtle changes in the child’s environment or routine.
  • An additional repercussion of invisible obstacles is the challenge it presents for parents, teachers, and other adults to distinguish whether it is that a child “won’t” or “can’t” follow a particular directive. An adult can misconstrue and errantly react to a child’s noncompliance with a shaming consequence, which can be exceedingly damaging to the child’s psychological well-being. It is crucial to first determine whether the child is “able” to consistently do what is being asked of him before reacting.
  • At some point in their life, many children and families experience a traumatic life event; e.g., being victims of crime, experiencing an unexpected or premature significant loss, or riding out a natural disaster that leave members emotionally vulnerable. While children may not have the words to express their feelings or ask specific questions about what happened or what might happen in the future, they see and feel everything, and they carry it with them. Unable to clearly voice their thoughts and fears, they are left to cope with their personal explanations.  Children sometimes formulate exaggerated interpretations and outcomes of these situations, leading to undesirable feelings; e.g., anxiety, fear, self doubt, guilt, unworthiness, and negative thoughts and behavior.
  • Coping with an unhappy and frustrated child takes a toll on parents, their partnership, marriage, and ultimately the whole family; fortunately, parents can access resources and make choices that can lead to better times.
  • Parents and children don’t need to do anything to prepare or get ready for therapy. It works regardless of where the family is at; sad, frustrated, angry, confused, indifferent, or eager to learn anticipating valuable change. Dr. Lisa encourages families to come as they are, because whatever they are experiencing now is the perfect starting point. Therapy is one place parents don’t have to worry about having all the answers or knowing what to do; families and Dr. Lisa sort it out together.

The Light at the End of the Playground – You’ve Got This

  • When parents bring their love, patience, authenticity and commitment to the process with a compassionate therapist that uses culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate words and interventions, even the youngest of children can transcend adversity and challenge.
  • The “parenting spirit” empowers parents to access new internal resources and reserves that motivate them to move through discomfort, and implement productive changes in the best interest of their children.
  • Parents make sacrifices everyday in order to provide their child with care, love and protection. Although at times it is challenging for children to share how they feel about you, their parents, they do want you to know how much they appreciate all you do and who you are to them. It will mean a lot to your child when Dr. Lisa helps him find ways to share and show you how much you mean to him.
  • Dedication to and engagement in the therapy process rewards families with new skills, confident and happy children, a bright future, and an enjoyable family life.

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