SPACE (Supportive Parenting of Anxious Childhood Emotions) is a highly effective application of Nonviolent Resistance. It was developed at Yale University by Dr. Eli Lebowitz, based on the foundational framework of Nonviolent Resistance by Dr. Haim Omer (University of Tel Aviv).
SPACE teaches parents to recognize their child’s behaviours, their own interactions with their child’s behaviour, and to implement plans for reducing their child’s anxious or other (destructive) behaviours. It is fully research-based (read latest research). Since SPACE is a parent training, children do not attend any of the sessions. Parents maintain an empathic and supportive attitude towards their child while increasing parents’ ability to work cooperatively to reduce the child’s anxiety and increase support. Parents are taught skills that will continue to support and help their children.
Childhood behaviour difficulties in children is not just a one-person event. It’s an interpersonal event involving the child signalling their intentions to the parent and the parent picking up that signal and responding back to the child with fear, protection, or soothing.
Children who experience a lot of anxiety a lot of the time – meaning children with anxiety problems or anxiety disorders – they’re going to involve their parents a lot as well. And this can be really hard on the parents who may find their whole life being taken over by their child’s anxiety and the need to help them not feel anxious.
Dealing with difficult childhood behaviours at home can be quite powerful, especially when you think about how a parent’s anxious behaviours and worry can influence how their child responds to them or to situations. Therefore, one of the best approaches for dealing with anxiety and worry at home is to learn cutting-edge parenting strategies and to work on stress reduction through mindfulness at the same time.
I help parents who struggle to say “no” and have trouble managing their children’s problem behaviours. It is hard when you are constantly drawn into a power struggle.
Many parents struggle as you do. Despite being smart, excited to problem-solve, and deeply hardworking, parenting is hard. I get it, I am a parent too.
When parents first book an intake for one of the NVR / SPACE programs, they feel rushed and angry, pulled too much in every direction. They feel selfish, exhausted, and unappreciated. They feel hopeless and helpless as they have already tried everything they know unsuccessfully.
Parents often worry they are pushing their children away when they say no. They feel resigned to the needs of their children. What they want no longer matters as boundaries, and personal space are ignored.
Parents often feel shame or guilt whenever they say yes to something they don’t have the physical or emotional energy for, but they are afraid of letting their children down.
Their fear of saying no gets in the way of the life many parents want in so many ways. They make many adjustments and accommodations to help regulate their children’s behaviour, often failing as friends, sisters, daughters, or partners. And their confidence at work is tanking as parents often worry about their children’s behaviour a lot.
Before parents start one of the NVR / SPACE programs, they felt guilty for being frustrated and drained. Other people can be parents to their children freely; why can’t they? Many parents in the same situation are running on empty, and at their core, they’re suffering for it… and so is the relationship between the parents.
Like others, you deserve to put yourself first without worrying about letting down your family, friend, or boss. Together we can work on managing childhood behaviours – whether it is anxiety, picky eaters, or children with ADHD.
Can you recognize yourself and your family in this? Is your family constantly making adjustments to schedules, cancelling social visits, limiting friends coming over, or even having to deal with a child sleeping in your bed most of the time? Or perhaps you are always having to ensure your child’s favourite foods are available in abundance to prevent meltdowns? And what if you are constantly having to help your child get organized and carry the burden of their lack of self-regulation that gets them in trouble?
The sessions are offered as individual Skills training – psychoeducational – in which parents problem solve and learn to apply skills to help their child manage difficult behaviours. These sessions are not considered psychotherapy.
I strongly believe that no one should be pressured to decide whether or not they want to work with a therapist before meeting them. I will see you (and your child) at no charge to make sure we are a good fit for each other. Every therapist works in their own unique way so I want you to be certain you feel comfortable with the way I work. The initial meeting is not a therapy session; it’s designed to be low-key and low-pressure with no “hard sell” at the end.