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Parent-Child Relational Disorder

Most diagnoses focus on the individual. A relational disorder, however, involves two or more individuals and looks at their relationship. This disorder is based on the persistent disordered interactions between parent and child. 

If a parent is withdrawn from all children, dysfunction may be attributed to the individual. 

If, however, a parent is withdrawn from one child but not another, dysfunction can be attributed to a relational disorder. 

Parent–child relational disorder is largely defined by physical aggression by a parent toward a child, according to research. Frequently concealed by parent and child, this may become known in emergency room visits or reports from child protection services. Features of abusive relationships include: 

    • Parent is physically aggressive with a child, often producing physical injury 
    • Parent–child interaction is coercive. Parents are quick to react to provocations with aggression. Children often reciprocate aggression
    • Parents do not respond effectively to the child’s positive or prosocial behavior
    • Parents do not engage in discussion about emotions
    • Parent engages in deficient play behavior, ignores the child, rarely starts play and does little teaching
    • Children are insecurely attached and, where mothers have a history of physical abuse, show distinctive patterns of disorganized attachment
    • Parents’ relationship shows a pattern of coercive interactions

Read more about Child Behavior Problems & treatment at CFI…



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