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DBT Skills to Support Healthy Parenting

5 Ways to Improve Relationships with Your Child or Teen

Parenting can be challenging, but with the right skills and tools, you can overcome any obstacle and become the parent you want to be. One such tool that can help you stay calm and connected with your children, even in stressful situations, is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is actually a set of four skills that combine to help you live life with more purpose and ease. This blog aims to introduce you to DBT and explain how it can help you become a better parent. Whether you are struggling to cope, looking to enhance your parenting abilities, or looking for autism resources for parents, this blog will demonstrate how DBT can assist you in achieving your parenting goals. So, if you are ready to take the first step towards being the parent you want to be, read on to discover how DBT can help you navigate the ups and downs of parenting.

Understanding Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

One practical way to become a more empathetic parent is to develop the four fundamental skills of DBT: mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. These essential skills of DBT for parents equip caregivers with a roadmap to learn how to manage their emotions, communicate effectively, and navigate difficult situations with their children. If you are parenting a child with autism, you may be facing unique challenges. Still, these DBT skills can help you better understand your child’s needs, set appropriate limits, and foster a strong bond with your child.

Practicing Mindfulness in Parenting

Practicing mindfulness can help you connect with your kids by being present at the moment, observing the little things that make them unique, and cherishing the time you spend together. It can help you slow down, appreciate the beauty in the present moment, and create lasting memories with your children.

Some ways to practice mindfulness include:


Take a Pause

Overwhelmed parents, we get it. Take a deep breath when your child frustrates you. Respond calmly and offer guidance and support. Lead by example with the behavior you want to see.

Be Present

Spend quality time with your child by giving them your full attention and removing distractions. Focus on their interests, accomplishments, and growth. Enjoy each moment and show them that you care.


Prioritizing self-care is essential for your well-being and parenting success. You can achieve this by exercising, getting enough sleep, participating in hobbies, socializing, and seeking counseling. Taking care of yourself should be your top priority, and you should take advantage of the many parenting resources available to help you navigate the challenges of parenthood.


Emotional Regulation: The Key to Healthy Parenting and Stable Family Connections

Effective parenting involves regulating your emotions to approach situations calmly and make better decisions for your family. Embodying this skill and teaching your children how to do the same is crucial, as there is often a strong impulse to act out when overwhelmed. Demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms to help your children develop these essential skills.

Some tips include:

Identifying and Accepting Your Feelings

Recognize your emotions and identify their triggers. Of course, these moments will happen when you feel at your limit. Take a moment to breathe whenever they arise. This will help you respond calmly and thoughtfully instead of impulsively.

Choosing Your Response

Do your best to cultivate empathy, patience, and flexibility when interacting with your children. Acknowledging their perspectives and feelings can create a safe and supportive environment that encourages open communication and mutual respect. This openness can help defuse power struggles and tension.

Additionally, remember to:

  • Speak kindly. Use a gentle, encouraging tone even when disciplining your child. Criticism and harshness will likely make the situation worse.
  • Help your child identify the emotions they’re feeling and give them a name. This can help children gain awareness and feel in control.
  • Use these opportunities to teach problem-solving strategies to deal with upsetting emotions. If needed, give your child space to self-soothe healthily.

Improving Coping Skills: The Art of Distress Tolerance Techniques

Parenting can be overwhelming and can trigger emotions such as frustration, anger, or anxiety. When you have a skill set that allows you to deal with such situations constructively, relationships are preserved, and your child can develop the skills needed to deal with similar emotions throughout their lives. Although some problems may seem unsolvable and the distress may feel unbearable, DBT distress tolerance coping skills can help you return to a place of calm and control, at which point you’re more able to deal with the emotions of the moment.

Some fundamental techniques to draw on include:

Radical Acceptance

Radical acceptance is a powerful tool that helps reduce emotional distress and deal with difficult situations better. By embracing what’s happened without trying to deny it or remain attached to our expectations for the event, we can develop greater resilience and emotional regulation, essential skills for navigating life’s challenges.

Self-Soothing with Your Senses

To soothe yourself when feeling overwhelmed, engage your senses. Take slow breaths, listen to calming music or nature sounds, use lavender oil, wrap yourself in a cozy blanket, chew mint gum, or sip peppermint tea. Experiment with different sensory experiences to find what works best for you.

Distraction and Relaxation

Taking a break from upsetting situations can help you gain clarity. Engage in art, read a book, or tidy up. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or gentle yoga can also help manage stress. Incorporate these practices into your routine to handle difficult situations calmly.

Mastering Interpersonal Effectiveness: Key Skills for Successful Communication and Relationships

Effective communication is critical to avoid power struggles with your kids. Keep your messages clear and concise, and teach them these skills to help them personally and academically. A proactive approach to communication can create a harmonious family dynamic.

To improve your communication with your children, focus on these practices:

Express Your Feelings and Needs Calmly

Using “I-statements” and polite language is essential when communicating with your child. Instead of accusing them, try to say how you feel. For instance, instead of saying, “You never pick up your stuff,” say, “I feel frustrated when you leave your toys on the floor.” Also, ask for what you want directly and respectfully using “please” and “thank you.” This sets a good example and promotes positive communication.

Be Sure to Ask, Listen, and Reflect

To effectively communicate with your child, it is essential to ask open-ended questions that allow for broader and more detailed responses, listen carefully to what your child is saying, and, if there is a disagreement, find a solution that is acceptable to both of you, which may require exploring alternative options.

Model Taking Responsibility

If you make a mistake, it’s important to apologize genuinely and show your child that admitting fault is okay. By saying “I’m sorry” and genuinely meaning it, you can teach your child to do the same and promote a healthy and respectful relationship.

Fun and Engaging Activities to Strengthen the Bond Between You and your Children

Dedicating quality time to your children is crucial as it significantly reinforces the connection between you and your little ones. These moments are valuable in helping your kids acquire social and emotional skills essential for their development. Moreover, spending time with your children creates unforgettable memories that will stay with them forever.

Some easy activities you can do together include:

Play Games

Playing games with kids is a fun way to promote learning. Board games, card games, and indoor games like Simon Says and Jenga are great choices. Kids can learn important skills like following instructions, waiting their turn, and managing frustration while having fun.

Connect Through Play

Spending time playing with your child who has Autism is an excellent way to establish a connection. We recommend allocating some time each day for unstructured play. During playtime, follow your child’s lead and engage in activities they enjoy, whether playing with Legos, drawing, or engaging in imaginative play.

Cook Together

Cooking with your child is a great way to bond and spend quality time. Let them help measure, stir, decorate, or choose the meal. It builds confidence and new skills. Keep recipes simple, be patient with messes, and appreciate their effort.

Read Books Together

Reading a book together is a cozy way to bond and improve literacy skills. You can take turns reading aloud, use different voices for characters, and discuss important themes and lessons.

Get Outside

Spending time outdoors is essential and a great way to bond with your children. You can play catch, fly a kite, take a nature walk, and collect items like leaves and rocks. Enjoy your surroundings and take note of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings you encounter.

Seek Counseling

Counseling and child-parent relationship therapy can be a fun and effective way to improve your connection with your children. This is especially true for parents with children who have autism, as therapy can provide support in developing communication skills using simple language, consistent routines, and visual aids. Furthermore, therapy can help you learn how to create behavior plans with appropriate rewards and consequences to encourage desired behaviors.

DBT Therapy for Children on Long Island

Parents and caretakers, your efforts in providing a nurturing environment for your child are remarkable. Parenting is not easy, but by developing the right skills, you can become a more effective and nurturing parent while caring for yourself. Parenting resources and family therapy options are readily available to help you become a better parent. By incorporating even one DBT therapy skill daily, you’ll notice positive changes in how you respond to your child’s big emotions and behaviors. These mindfulness practices can help you regulate your emotions, tolerate distress, and become a more compassionate and resilient parent. Even small changes can make a big difference and positively impact your entire family. So, don’t hesitate to seek resources and support to assist you in becoming a more empathetic parent.

If you need extra guidance and support, contact Suffolk DBT today, where we offer professional assistance and a wide range of treatment options for children, teens, and adults. We also provide child-parent relationship therapy, which can help you and your child learn more effective communication strategies.

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