therapeutic parenting

5 Powerful Therapeutic Parenting Techniques You Didn’t Know You Needed

Parenting can be a challenging aspect of families and adulthood, where various events can easily upset or cause harm to the child's mental health. While traditional parenthood is often considered to be the norm, the conventional methods are often not inclusive of all children, especially those who have undergone traumatic experiences.

This is where therapeutic parenting emerges as a parenting style that focuses on empathy, understanding, and emotional connection in children. In this blog, we will dive into various therapeutic parenting strategies that will help you form a deeper bond with your child.

What is Therapeutic Parenting?

Therapeutic parenting is a parenting style that actively prioritises a child's empathetic, emotional, attachment, and relational needs of a child. This parenting approach is particularly helpful for children who have previously experienced childhood trauma and, as a result, face difficulties in forming secure attachments, placing trust in adults, challenging behaviour, or attachment difficulties. While this style of parenting is often used with traumatised children, it can also be exercised to build a trusting and secure relationship with any child.

Foster carers mostly frequently employ this parenting style to build a trusting relationship with the child in their care or by adoptive parents to understand their child's past experiences better. This therapeutic approach to parenting can help enable children to build a positive understanding of the guardians around them, as well as help them understand and heal from the trauma they may have suffered.

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Why is Therapeutic Parenting Important?

This parenting approach is very helpful for children with adverse experiences during their formative years. Undergoing trauma at an early age can lead to developmental issues throughout life and leave children with difficulties in forming safe relationships and attachments. Furthermore, foster children or individuals who have undergone adverse childhood experiences may react negatively to traditional parenting styles, which are often punishment-based approaches.

Therapeutic parents replace these punishment-based styles with ones with an empathetic approach. This leads to a deeper bond with their children that prevents aggressive or difficult behaviour. Furthermore, this parenting style permits parents to use fair and firm developmental techniques that allow the child to start trusting adults.

This therapeutic parenting style is especially effective in children who do not have a secure and established emotional base, as it helps tremendously in recovering from past trauma and places an emphasis on healthy healing. This can include children in foster care systems, troubled children, or children with developmental trauma. However, it is critical to note that therapeutic parenting can be used with all children to form deeply empathetic bonds and allow them to gain deeper trust in the adults they are dealing with.

5 Powerful Therapeutic Parenting Techniques

Therapeutic approaches can be incorporated into the parenting regime of any child. The following techniques will help your child feel safe from within and reduce displays of difficult and aggressive behaviour.

1. Establishing Fair and Firm Boundaries: Setting and establishing firm boundaries is a cornerstone technique involved in therapeutic parenting. This method allows children to instil values of safety and a sense of security in their day-to-day happenings, as these boundaries can be as small as setting a fixed time for dinner. Since many children may struggle with feelings of instability, this technique lets parents minimise emotions of fear and surprise within their children. If there need to be any changes in these routines and boundaries, they must be introduced gradually.

2. Foster Empathy: Another technique is to foster empathy within yourself and your child. By allowing yourself to feel your child's emotions, you avoid jumping quickly to conclusions about your child's feelings and actions. Show empathy by acknowledging and validating their emotions, even if you disagree with their perspective. Use phrases like, "I understand that you're feeling upset" or "It's okay to feel sad about that." This step is beneficial in building a stronger connection with your child.

3. Avoid Punishment: Therapeutic parenting techniques actively avoid dealing with punishments as they can make children feel isolated, anxious, and scared. Instead, an empathy-based approach is adopted where a child's actions are understood, and they are helped through feelings that upset them. If a child is exhibiting strong behaviour, they are calmed down through the presence of the carer and other positive reinforcements rather than punishment.

4. Practice PACE Model: The PACE model is a therapeutic parenting style proposed by psychologist Dan Hughes. PACE stands for playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy. This model adopts these four principles and effectively utilises them to maximise connection with troubled children. This model allows parents to de-escalate certain situations by using a combination of the four concepts and provides a helpful framework for dealing with certain emotional and behavioural challenges.

5. Take Care of Yourself: As a parent, one can only practice these therapeutic approaches if they are well cared for. Practising these techniques requires parents to be calm and well-mannered in their approach towards their children, and it is not possible to do so if the parents themselves are struggling. Therefore, it is crucial that you find activities that support you and help you provide the best care possible for your child.

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In conclusion, therapeutic parenting offers a compassionate and effective approach to nurturing children's emotional well-being, particularly those who have experienced trauma or adversity. By prioritising empathy, understanding, and emotional connection, therapeutic parenting creates a safe and supportive environment where children can heal, develop resilience, and build secure attachments.

Through techniques such as establishing fair boundaries, fostering empathy, avoiding punishment, practising the PACE model, and prioritising self-care, parents can enhance their relationship with their children and promote positive behaviour.


What is the Therapeutic Parenting Approach?

The therapeutic parenting approach prioritises empathy, understanding, and emotional connection to meet the emotional, relational, and developmental needs of children, especially those who have experienced trauma or adversity. It emphasises building secure attachments, fostering emotional regulation, and using positive discipline strategies to promote healing, resilience, and healthy development in children.

What is the Role of a Therapeutic Parent?

The role of a therapeutic parent is to provide empathetic, nurturing, and consistent care that meets the emotional and developmental needs of children, particularly those who have experienced trauma. Therapeutic parents focus on building secure attachments and supporting healing and growth in their children through positive and understanding interactions.

What are the 4 Types of Parenting Styles?

The four types of parenting styles are authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved/neglectful.

Samar Takkar

Samar Takkar is a third year undergraduate student at the Indian Institute of Psychology and Research. An avid tech, automotive and sport enthusiast, Samar loves to read about cars & technology and watch football. In his free time, Samar enjoys playing video games and driving.


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