In today’s blog I will look at exactly what child to parent violence is and list some tips for dealing with a violent child.

For most parents/carers when they come to tell me about the issues they are having with their child, they are at the end of their tether. They have tried to manage the situation to the best of their ability but to no avail. They are scared, frustrated and mostly they are sad. The issue of child to parent violence is one which no parent ever wishes to find themselves dealing with.

There is usually a process which the parents go through before reaching out for support. This process typically involves the parent putting the behaviour down to ‘normal testing of boundaries’. While some of the behaviour may be normal boundary pushing a clear definition of Child to Parent Violence tells us that the key difference between testing of boundaries and child to parent violence is the issue of power and fear. If a parent feels they must adapt their behaviour due to threats or abusive/violent behaviour by their child, then there is child to parent violence (Wilcox 2012).

Definition of Child to Parent Violence

A clear definition of child to parent abuse then can be noted as: an abuse of power through which the child or adolescent coerces, controls or dominates others in the family (Coogan2016).

Tips for Dealing with a Violent Child

  • Protect Yourself: by this I mean, if you must call the authorities in order to protect yourself then please do this. Your safety matters.

  • Begin to externalise the problem: the problem is the problem not the child. I understand this is probably a new and difficult concept but trust me, it is a very useful one. Instead of thinking “if only he/she would behave better” try thinking “if only there was no violence in the home”. This is the start to externalising the problem.

  • Press the pause button: violent incidents can occur through a habit of escalation between the parent and young person. When things are getting heated, press the pause button. Walk away, think about how you want to react and strike when the iron is COLD.

  • Be clear in your message to them that you will not tolerate violence and abuse. Make a commitment to them that you will not use this type of behaviour either.

  • Tell trusted and supportive family and friends: secrecy perpetuates abuse. By telling others you are stepping out of secrecy and breaking the cycle.

  • Don’t pull back from being a parent, remain present in your child’s life. Tell them you love them and suggest some ideas for nice things to do together.

  • Contact me and let’s discuss what is happening to you and how the Non Violent Resistance (NVR) training can help you.


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