7 Common Child Behavioral Therapy Techniques

Blog graphic with a child playing with blocks and the title 7 Child Behavioral Therapy Techniques

Behavioral therapy can help your child learn healthy habits and behaviors, so they can thrive at school, at home, and eventually, at work. It addresses a wide range of behaviors, from meltdowns to a lack of time management, to help children learn coping skills and minimize the effects of these behaviors. Committing to behavioral therapy may feel overwhelming. But it’s one of the best ways you can support your child with emotional and behavioral challenges.

Child behavioral therapy techniques will be tailored to your family’s needs, and a professional therapist can help you decide on the best treatment plan. Here are a few of our favorite techniques as a cognitive and behavioral health center in Colorado Springs:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of talk therapy that helps people change negative thinking and behavior patterns. With CBT, your child can learn to replace negative thoughts with more positive ones and understand the impact of their actions on themselves and others. CBT works best for children who can self-reflect and talk about their challenges.

CBT can help children with autism, ADHD, autism, depression, and trauma process the thoughts and emotions leading to harmful or undesirable behaviors. For example, a child with ADHD may struggle to complete school assignments on time. A CBT therapist can help the child break down larger projects into easy-to-manage steps and track due dates in a calendar to change the child’s behavioral outcome.

2. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Little girl sitting between her smiling parents while a child behavioral therapist asks a question

DBT helps children learn to manage intense emotions, regulate behavior, and create meaningful relationships with others. It is particularly successful in helping children with explosive outbursts or difficulty managing extreme emotions like sadness or anger.

DBT emphasizes the concept of mindfulness, teaching children to stay in tune with their current emotions without judging them.

DBT also focuses on helping children learn skills that can be used to manage emotionally challenging situations. For instance, if a child feels agitated by a situation, they may be taught calming techniques such as deep breathing or counting.

3. Behavioral Activation Therapy (BAT)

BAT is a great tool for children dealing with depression or anxiety. It’s based on the theory that if someone is struggling emotionally, engaging in positive activities can help improve their mindset.

BAT is usually the most effective when the activities are aligned with the child’s values. For example, if your child values time with friends but won’t respond to messages or go out, their therapist will help them take actionable steps toward reconnecting. Another approach is to look at the activities your child is no longer participating in and analyze what’s contributing to their avoidance behaviors.

4. Child-Centered Play Therapy

Play therapy is best for younger children who may not yet be able to express their feelings with words. With play therapy, your child uses toys to act out scenes from their everyday life. This allows them to practice healthy coping skills and create a sense of control over their emotions.

Your therapist can also use play therapy to help your child process trauma, build self-esteem, and develop problem-solving skills. This type of therapy works best with children who have a rich imagination and can express their feelings through play.

5. Family Therapy

Family therapy helps the entire family work together to create a healthy home environment for your child. It can help parents learn better parenting techniques, provide support for siblings of children with behavioral issues, and allow all family members to communicate their needs in a safe and supportive way. 

Family therapy also helps identify environmental factors that may be contributing to your child’s challenging behaviors. For example, if a parent has difficulty setting consistent boundaries, the therapist can provide guidance on communicating expectations.

6. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied behavior analysis is a scientifically-based intervention that uses positive rewards to shape and reinforce desired behaviors. ABA is highly beneficial for children with autism since it helps them learn social, verbal, and motor skills that they wouldn’t pick up in the same way as their peers.

ABA aims to help children develop daily living skills, communication, and self-management so that they can be happier, healthier, and more independent. An ABA therapist will pay close attention to what happens before and after a problem behavior and work to address things that trigger and reinforce it.

7. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

(PCIT) This therapy focuses on strengthening the relationship between parent and child and improving parenting skills. PCIT is designed to help parents set clear expectations for their child’s behavior and provide appropriate consequences when needed.

The therapist works closely with the parent to observe how they interact with their child in various scenarios and provides feedback to help them create a more positive environment. PCIT helps parents learn how to respond better when their child is upset or acting out. This type of therapy is especially beneficial for families with young children who have trouble.

Speak to a Behavioral Therapist at A Cognitive Connection

A Cognitive Connection offers behavioral therapy services to help children struggling with mental health and behavior issues. Our team of therapists is committed to helping families create a safe, supportive environment so their children can thrive. We even offer parenting classes to help equip you with the tools and strategies you need to be the best parent to your child.

If your family could benefit from the behavioral therapy techniques discussed above, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping your family build a brighter future!

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