Child to parent abuse ‘What we do is encourage parents to see the behaviour as an uninvited guest or an infection…  The problem is the problem, it’s not the child’

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Senior social worker and family therapist Madeleine Connelly was so struck by an email read out on The Ryan Tubridy Show this week describing aggressive behaviour from a child towards a mother that she rang the show to share her professional opinion on the often-hushed subject.

“I was really very, very struck by the woman’s letter… talking about, it is ok for me to say I can’t do any more for my child…  Yes, of course, it’s ok to say that.  What you’re saying is you’ve done possibly everything you possibly can…  Saying I can’t do anything more for my child is really saying, what else can I do, who else is there to help me…  We have had many, many parents come into the service and really just in a by-the-way kind of way saying, and by the way, you know, he’s hit me or he’s punched me or he’s using verbal abuse.”

Madeleine says what impacted her most about the email was that while this is not an uncommon issue in households, parents are hesitant to speak about it, suffering in silence far more than they need to.

“Parenting is a challenge for most of us and things can get very, very difficult and it’s very isolating, especially when you’re not talking about it…  The first tip we always talk about with parents is to literally deescalate the pressure, is press your pause button, choose not to respond to the crisis immediately…  You can go back and talk at a calmer time maybe about how do we stop this happening in our house…  The second and probably the most powerful thing that parents are saying is the importance to them of opening it out to a support network.”

An important and useful tip, Madeleine says, is to separate out the child from the behaviour.

“What we do is encourage parents to see the behaviour as an uninvited guest or an infection, that it’s not the child, it’s a behaviour, to separate it out.  The problem is the problem, it’s not the child, and that helps parents to look at different ways of seeing the problem and then working together with the child.”

Click here to listen to The Ryan Tubridy Show

© The Listener 2018

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