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Review of The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting for Childhood Aggression and Violence

17 June 2024

The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting for Childhood Aggression and Violence” by Sally Donovan and Carly Kingswood is easy to read with a friendly, light and playful approach to the writing that many will find practical, accepting, non judgemental and warm.

It provides a wealth of ideas and real life examples of how to navigate complex and challenging situations that will resonate with other parents trying to manage children that are aggressive towards them, or towards themselves.

Whilst not purporting to be a ‘DDP book’ Carly and Sally weave in the day to day practice that parenting with an attitude of PACE might look like. Within DDP Level One training we focus an entire day on ‘day to day parenting’ and I believe that this book, amongst others, is a very helpful resource to support parents as they try to help their children accept their love and care. Indeed it is very much written for parents.

They weave in, throughout, the importance of self care for parents and carers, on parents recognising their own triggers and providing a voice for what can often feel like unacceptable thoughts and feelings that any parents and carers might be having. The defensive reactions that can be created within us, when faced with aggressive behaviour from our children, can be overwhelming and shaming. Sally and Carly carefully balance the fact that these reactions are in many ways natural and understandable alongside helping parents to understand the importance of approaching situations in a regulated state and giving them very real ideas about how to achieve this. Feeling helpless and like there is nothing you can do in these extreme situations is both frightening for parents and also for children who might be looking for confirmation that they need to be in control.  

They cover topics very current to issues families are grappling with today such as: Social Media use, choosing schools and supporting parents to manage the dynamics within their families with other children. I like the way it is set out with short pieces of writing and clear headlines that are easy to flick through. There isn’t an index but the chapter summary at the beginning is helpful to take you to certain topics. Sally has a wealth of experience in parenting and writing and Carly brings many years of experience both as a foster carer and a therapist.

There is a focus on the importance of ongoing relationships to both help parents to remain regulated enough to continue to have empathy for their children and to have resources, like this book, to help day to day. I would highly recommend this book as a rich source of ideas for parents grappling to support their children who are aggressively resisting their care and love.

Anna Binnie-Dawson

DDP Practitioner, Consultant and Trainer, DDP Connects UK Board of Directors Chairperson

The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting for Childhood Aggression and Violence

Sally Donovan and Carly Kingswood