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Adoptive parents learn strategies to manage aggression

Published: 25.03.15

Dr Peter Jakob works with families who have children and young people with violent, aggressive, controlling, or self-destructive behaviour. He was the main speaker at an Adoption UK conference in Birmingham last week.
Adoptive parents learn strategies to manage aggression

The 90 delegates attending the one-day conference in Birmingham heard about the latest thinking on how to de-escalate child-to-parent violence.
Dr Jakob, a clinical psychologist and systemic family therapist, told delegates that research shows that child-to-parent violence is more common than perhaps people realise.

Dr Jakob explained: "This can cause deep frustration and a sense of hurt from the family who have adopted a child. Adoptive parents need strong support, rather than 'a sense of blame' from friends, family and especially professionals in order to take back control and find ways and techniques to help deal with the aggression."

Another guest speaker, Shila Desai, a family and systemic psychotherapist, advised parents to "strike when the iron is cold" when dealing with violent outbursts from children or, in other words, tell them: "We'll talk about this later/tomorrow."

Delegates also had an opportunity to share their experiences and learn about the four main parts of non-violent resistance:

  • Understanding escalation patterns
  • Raising parental/adult presence
  • Reconciliation gestures to repair/heal relationships
  • Building networks of friends/family/mentors/teachers

An adoptive mother at the conference said: "It's been so useful to be in a room full of people who are experiencing similar behaviour from their children and knowing that you don't have to blame yourself."

Adoption UK's CEO Hugh Thornbery, said: "This conference was a sell-out which highlights to us the need for this sort of support for adoptive parents and their families. We cannot under-estimate the impact that aggressive behaviour can have on a family and we believe this is an area of support for our members that we can look at expanding on in the future.

"Indeed we were delighted to hear we have just been awarded a Department for Education contract to deliver support to adoptive families tackling child to parent violence so expect to see more from us."