By Suzyn Jacobson, Clinical Director
Children need predictable rules and routines to make them feel loved and safe. Families sometimes struggle with creating this sense of predictable and reliable routine and structure because they are overwhelmed by the pressing needs of everyday life.
Family Priority counselors and therapists assist families in creating consistent expectations and boundaries in the home through educating and coaching parents. Parents develop rules and consistently implement them and find that children respond to this sense of reliability and feel safer in the home, having less need to act out to get their needs met.
When children know what to expect, they are more cooperative and less likely to argue and dispute parental authority. The Family Priority counselor is trained to engage families in establishing bottom line priorities and in the implementation of rules and consistent schedules.
Parents, who previously believed that routines and structure were beyond their control, find that they exert less energy in arguing with their children once expectations are clear. Family Priority counselors are trained to assist families in communicating their expectations clearly and firmly, and in translating these priorities into structure in the home. Counselors demonstrate and model non-reactive communication skills so that parents and children do not get bogged down in arguments about the rules.
Limits and rules allow children to internalize structure and to feel secure in approaching the world on their own. Secure children know what to expect and structure provides them with the necessary sense of self to interact successfully in the world.
In my work as Clinical Director, I am amazed to see previously dysregulated children flourish under this approach. Families find that they have more cooperation, fewer arguments and can enjoy each other more. In over fifteen years of doing this work, I have seen children blossom once they get over their shock at their parents being kind, but firm and consistent.