Therapeutic Parenting - Encouragement and Positive Speech

Therapeutic parenting describes the type of high structure/high nurture parenting needed for a traumatized child to feel safe and relaxed enough that they begin to heal and attach. Therapeutic parenting helps children to heal from the trauma, maltreatment, or lack of care they experienced early in life from primary caregivers. Therapeutic parenting is particularly effective for children with reactive attachment disorder (RAD); but it can also be useful for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Apserger's Syndrome, and PDD-NOS.

Because of their unresolved relationship trauma, children often react to current, nurturing caregivers with the same defensive behaviors they needed to survive their early trauma. They operate from a fear-based world view.

Creating a feeling of safety for the child, so they can let down their defenses and process all the positive things we parents want to give them, is so important. Therapeutic parenting requires that you rethink your parenting instincts, experience with other children, and advice on child rearing. It means constantly making conscious, therapeutic parenting decisions every day and being consistent with them. It also means focusing on the deeper meaning of your child's behavior so that you respond to the motivations behind your child's actions and their underlying unmet needs. How you diagnose your child's behavior and respond to it will have greatly impact how you and your child move forward in your relationship.

There are many places to learn therapeutic parenting. Some of the best resources are members of the Attachment & Trauma Network (ATN) which include:

Beyond ConsequencesHeather
Brand New Day ConsultingKatharine
Dance of AttachmentHHolly van
Families by DesignNancy
Love & Logic
The Connected ChildKaryn
The Nurtured HeartHoward

Many parents find that studying each of these gives them more tools to use. Some strategies might work for your family; others may not. And some strategies work better at different stages in the child’s development and healing.

Important Tips for Therapeutic Parenting

  1. Remember to take care of yourself - physically, emotionally, spiritually.
  2. Find support - other parents, support groups, or therapy.
  3. Remember that your child’s behaviors are based in fear, even though they may be expressed as anger, aggression, violence, and rejection.
  4. Remaining calm, regulated, and positive yourself is the key to making any strategy successful.
  5. If your child’s behaviors are triggering emotional issues for you, seek counseling for yourself (and for your marriage). Ask your child’s attachment therapist for recommendations.


Solutions for Complex Kids conference

Joy & Des Davies