By Marianne Beyersdorf
Have mandated breaks from work, community sports, and other commitments left you with more free time than usual? Parents often report they are so busy they hardly have time to spend even five minutes playing with their child. Now is your chance, parents! God promises (in everything) to work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28)—maybe some of that “good” is the time you now have to reconnect and attune to your children.
Research shows several benefits of truly connected, present play with children when using a certain set of skills, taught in a therapy called, “Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)”. The skills are referred to as “PRIDE” skills---an acronym for “Praise”, “Reflection”, “Imitation”, “Description”, and “Enjoyment”. When these skills are practiced during play interactions on a regular basis, benefits often include increased compliance and pro-social behaviors, positive impact on speech development, promotion of cooperation, and increase in warmth of interactions between parent and child.
Practice your PRIDE skills while you are at home with these simple suggestions!
Basic Overview of PRIDE Skills
- DO: Labeled praise is specific praise: “You choose such pretty colors” or “I like it when you play so quietly”
- REFRAIN FROM: Unlabeled praise is nonspecific: “Good!” or “Great job!”
*Labeled praise is more effective because it lets the child know exactly what you like, and increases the likelihood of the behavior happening again.
Reflections repeat/paraphrase your child’s statements: “Yes, the cow is hungry.”
- Allow your child to lead the conversation.
- Show your child you are listening.
- Show you accept/understand what your child is saying.
- Improve and increase child’s speech and language.
To imitate is to do the same thing your child is doing, such as drawing a unicorn if your child is drawing a unicorn.
- Helps you keep your attention/comments focused on what your child is doing.
- Helps you play at your child’s developmental level.
- Shows your approval of your child’s activity of choice.
- Teaches your child how to play well with others.
Behavior descriptions state exactly what your child is doing: “You’re rocking the baby to sleep” (think sports announcer).
- Different kinds of descriptions
- Describing the toys or what you are doing can make play interesting, but describing what your child is doing is especially important because it gives specific attention to your child’s positive behavior.
- Behavior description
- Shows your child you are interested and paying attention to him/her.
- Models speech and teaches vocabulary and concepts.
- Shows your child you like and approve of what he/she is doing.
- Holds your child’s attention to the play and helps increase attention span.
Let your child know you enjoy time spent with him/her.
- Enjoyment can be conveyed by:
- Genuinely interested tone of voice
- Positive touch
- Expressions of enjoyment increase the warmth of your play
A few things to keep in mind as you set aside 5-10 minutes to practice these skills during play with your children:
- Avoid giving commands—allow your child to lead play
- Avoid criticism—criticism points out mistakes rather than correcting them
During this time of increased anxiety and isolation within our homes, your decision to dedicate time for child-led play can provide both you and your child with a greater sense of warmth and connection. When we listen and engage with children we also hear the funniest, most adorable comments. While it may not be medically prescribed, I am praying we can all get an extra dose of laughter and love as we fight against COVID-19.
**Disclaimer** This blog post is meant to be an informative/educational guide for parents with a brief overview of one component of PCIT and is NOT a substitute for clinically guided Parent-Child Interaction Therapy.
 Handman, R. S. (2016). Harnessing the power of positive attention in parent-child interaction therapy: The link between "catching" good behavior and child compliance (Order No. 10182835). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1833195689). Retrieved from https://ezproxy.lib.uwm.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1833195689?accountid=15078
 Tempel, A. B., Wagner, S. M., & McNeil, C. B. (2009). Parent-child interaction therapy and language facilitation: The role of parent-training on language development. The Journal of Speech and Language Pathology – Applied Behavior Analysis, 3(2-3), 216-232. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0100241
 Gershenson, R., Lyon, A., & Budd, K. (2010). Promoting Positive Interactions in the Classroom: Adapting Parent-Child Interaction Therapy as a Universal Prevention Program. Education and Treatment of Children,33(2), 261-287